What We Do

We provide legal representation in Massachusetts for those unable to afford an attorney in all matters in which the law requires the appointment of counsel. This includes representation in criminal, delinquency, youthful offender, child welfare, mental health, sexually dangerous person and sex offender registry cases, as well as related appeals and post-conviction matters.

Representation is provided by a combination of approximately 500 staff attorneys and 3,000 private attorneys trained and certified to accept appointments. Support for and supervision of these attorneys is provided by the Private Counsel and Public Defender Divisions (for criminal cases and related matters), the Children and Family Law Division (for child welfare cases), the Youth Advocacy Division (for delinquency, youthful offender, and GCL revocation cases), and the Mental Health Litigation Division (for guardianships and mental health/substance abuse commitments). Additionally, the Immigration Impact Unit provides attorneys within all divisions with training, litigation support and advice in individual cases regarding immigration consequences for noncitizens clients.

Learn more about who we are and how we are structured…

CPCS News

To see the latest CPCS news, check out our blog.


Massachusetts Has Lost An Indigent Defense Giant June 22, 2016 - Gerry Schaefer surrounded by old colleagues at the CPCS 25th Anniversary Party in 2009. Attorney Gerry Schaefer, former head of the Massachusetts Defender Committee (MDC), passed away earlier this month at his home in Easthampton, MA.  Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Gerry, I’ve heard many heartfelt and remarkable stories from long time […]
Honoring the Best in Indigent Defense May 31, 2016 - On May 24, 2016, at the John Adams Courthouse, CPCS honored exemplary attorneys – both public and private – social workers, investigators, and professional administrative staff who dedicate their careers to overcoming injustice and championing the cause of zealous representation and effective assistance of counsel. In describing this year’s event, CPCS Chief Counsel Anthony Benedetti […]




Reunification Day Celebration State holds first “Reunification Day Celebration” in Berkshire County July 21, 2016 - On Tuesday, June 28, 2016, for the first time in Berkshire County, local agencies hosted a Reunification Day Celebration to recognize the reunification of families after separation through the child welfare system.  This event was hosted by Berkshire Children & Families, the Department of Children and Families, and the Committee for Public Counsel Services – […]
CAFL Accepting Applications for September Trial Panel Certification Training June 20, 2016 - The Children and Family Law Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services is seeking qualified attorneys to represent children and indigent parents in termination of parental rights and child requiring assistance cases in the Juvenile Court.  Admission to the CAFL trial panel is by application only and requires completion of a seven-day training.  Applicants […]

High School Suspensions Cost The Country $35 Billion Annually, Report Estimates June 3, 2016 - When students get suspended from school for a few days, they may not be the only ones who miss out.  A report released by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project tries for the first time to quantify the full social cost of so-called “exclusionary discipline.” Here is the link to the story on NPR.
Police routinely read juveniles their Miranda rights, but do kids really understand them? June 2, 2016 - Not surprisingly the answer is no.  Here is the ABA article. Here is a link to the Grisso study published in 1980:  Juveniles’ Capacity to Waive Miranda Rights: An Empirical Study