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…


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

HELP PROTECT THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH PSYCHIATRIC CHALLENGES – APPLY TO JOIN THE MENTAL HEALTH LITIGATION DIVISION COMMITMENT PANEL! June 25, 2019 - The Mental Health Litigation Division (MHLD) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is now accepting applications to its Fall 2019 Civil Commitment Certification Training. In Massachusetts, people experiencing psychiatric distress can be involuntarily detained at psychiatric facilities, committed for up to six months, and treated with medications against their wishes. This substantial deprivation […]
MENTAL HEALTH LITIGATION APPELLATE CERTIFICATION TRAINING – OCTOBER 2- 4, 2019 June 10, 2019 - The CPCS Mental Health Litigation Division is now accepting applications for an Appellate Certification Training taking place this October.  The training will take place in Worcester over the course of three days: Wednesday, October 2, 2019 from 8:45 – 4:30** Thursday, October 3, 2019 from 8:45 – 4:30 Friday, October 4, 2019 from 8:45 – […]
SJC rules that Discharge in mental health commitments means: Discharge June 4, 2019 - In a major decision (Pembroke Hospital v. D.L. (May 23, 2019)) the SJC ruled that when a petition for commitment under Chapter 123 is denied, the respondent cannot be held for further evaluation at the petitioning facility or another facility barring new evidence “that failure to hospitalize such person would create a likelihood of serious […]
Annual Award Recipients – 1988-2019 May 6, 2019 - Award Recipients – 1998 – 2019
Good Work of Public Defenders Leads to Outstanding Results in the SJC April 25, 2019 - Recently, the outstanding efforts of public defenders – and assigned counsel – have led to great results for our clients in the Supreme Judicial Court.  This Tuesday, the SJC issued two groundbreaking decisions expanding access to post-conviction forensic analysis under G.L. c. 278A, in Commonwealth v. Williams and Commonwealth v. Putnam.  And just two weeks […]
In a Broken Foster System, Some Kids Can’t Find a Bed For the Night reports Boston Globe April 12, 2019 - The Boston Globe recently published an article on the severe shortage of foster homes for children removed from their parents.  According to the article, Massachusetts has one of the worst records nationally for placement instability, lagging behind all but three states.  “In 2018 nearly a third of children in foster care in Massachusetts were moved three […]