The Mental Health Litigation Division (MHLD) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services is now accepting applications for the March 2023 Guardianship Certification Training

Application deadline is January 27, 2023

This training is for attorneys who want to represent adult respondents in probate court guardianship matters. A guardianship is a substantial deprivation of liberty; under guardianship an adult can no longer legally make their own decisions about many issues, including where to live, what medical treatment to accept or refuse, and other decisions people make every day. Because of this significant infringement on civil rights, respondents are entitled to court-appointed counsel. There is a great need for certified attorneys to represent these clients in this rewarding work. You will get client contact, litigation experience, and the satisfaction of providing zealous, client-centered advocacy for some of the most marginalized and disempowered people in the Commonwealth. The hourly rate for these Probate Court cases is $65.

CERTIFICATION PAYMENT: Attorneys accepted into the training will be eligible for a “Certification Payment” in the amount of $2,291.25 upon successful completion of the entire course including a mock trial, and within one year of completing the course accepting at least ten (10) MHLD guardianship matters, and billing at least two hundred (200) hours on those cases.

Application Submission: Admission to the MHLD trial panel is by application only. All attorneys who accept CPCS assignments are required to maintain professional liability insurance. Completed applications must be submitted by Friday January 27, 2023. MHLD will notify applicants on or about February 3, 2023 whether they have been admitted to the training program and with instructions for how to register. The link to our online application is at the end of this announcement.

Training Format and Requirements: Please review all information below carefully to make sure the format and dates work for you considering your work/family/other obligations. It will be challenging to maintain a full workload and usual responsibilities while participating in this course, so please be mindful of the required time commitment. You may need to work on this course in evenings and on weekends in order to keep up with the class.

This intensive mini course is a remote certification training with a mix of live Zoom sessions and substantial online learning through our online learning management system (Talent LMS). There will also be a half-day mock trial held in person in either Boston or Worcester.

The live Zoom sessions will be held from 1:00-4:00 PM on February 27, March 2, 6, 9, 13, and 16. Each course participant will be scheduled for an in-person mock trials on one of the following dates: March 27, 28, 29, or 30 (morning and afternoon options, to be scheduled once registration is complete). Please hold these dates open pending notification of acceptance to the training.

The online learning will include watching recorded lectures and other videos, reading articles and cases, and completing some quizzes and written assignments. There will be some pre-work before the training begins; the rest will be done in between the live sessions. You should expect a substantial number of hours of this self-directed work per week, in addition to the live sessions. The live sessions include interactive discussions and small group skills exercises that you prepare for in advance. The mock trial will take significant preparation in advance (you will be examining witnesses on cross and direct, as well as making legal arguments). The mock trial is an important part of the certification training, where you practice what you learned in the first part of the course and get constructive feedback from experienced mental health attorneys.

The cost of the training is $175*, which includes access to the LMS and the MCLE Mental Health Proceedings in Massachusetts Manual for Defense Counsel. After receiving confirmation that you have been accepted into the training, you will receive registration and payment instructions.

MHLD Panel Requirements: Certification is based on successful completion of the training course, including all live sessions, all required materials in the learning management system, and a mock trial. Attorneys who have successfully completed the course training requirements are provisionally certified and assigned a mentor. During the period of the attorney’s provisional certification, the attorney must adhere to the CPCS Performance Standards for these cases, and work cooperatively with their mentor as required by the MHLD Mentor Program requirements. The mentor will periodically report to the MHLD Trial Support Unit about the attorney’s progress towards full MHLD panel certification.

If you have any questions or need reasonable accommodations to complete the application, please email mruttenberg@publiccounsel.net or call (617) 910-5782.

Spring 2023 MHLD Guardianship Certification Course Application  (no fee to submit application)

Note: to submit your application, you must press Submit at the bottom left-hand side, below the signature. If you are not able to complete the application in one sitting you may press the Save button, on the bottom right-hand side, and you will receive a link to use when you are ready to complete the application.

* We do not want the cost of this training to be a barrier for interested attorneys who are dedicated to representing our clients against petitions for guardianship and authority for treatment. If the cost of this training would be a financial hardship, please contact Miriam Ruttenberg when you submit your application to discuss a confidential fee waiver.