Who We Are and How We Are Structured
Welcome to the website of the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services. The Committee, a 15-member body appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, oversees the provision of legal representation to indigent persons in criminal and civil cases and administrative proceedings in which there is a right to counsel.
Most representation is provided by approximately 3,000 private attorneys trained and certified to accept appointments. Support for and supervision of these attorneys is provided by the Private Counsel Division (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 Division (for guardianships and mental health/substance abuse commitments). Approximately 500 staff attorneys, working in offices located across Massachusetts, provide representation to clients in Superior, District, Juvenile, and Probate and Family Court cases and in appeals of those cases.
The Chief Counsel, appointed by the Committee and assisted by the Senior Management Team, is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the agency.
Private Counsel Division
The Private Counsel Division of CPCS delivers legal services to indigent clients through assigned private attorneys in criminal defense trial and post-conviction cases as well as commitment and registration cases for persons convicted of sex offenses. Our mission is to provide excellent legal services to each and every client by assuring that all assigned attorneys possess the skills they need through experience or training, meet high standards of performance and have ready access to mentoring, supervision and continuing legal education. To support this effort CPCS also provides consulting attorneys with expertise in trial skills, post-conviction matters, immigration law, forensic evidence and expert witnesses, community resources and sex offender registration. The CPCS Private Counsel division welcomes feedback about our service from clients and from assigned attorneys.
Public Defender Division
The mission of the Public Defender Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services is to ensure that criminal defendants are given the fundamental protection of the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Massachusetts Constitution. We believe that every defendant should not only receive zealous advocacy but respect and dignity as they deal with the potential loss of their liberty.
The Public Defender Division is committed to meeting the needs of clients in Massachusetts in all their diversity. We are dedicated to providing zealous advocacy, community oriented defense and protection of fundamental constitutional and human rights.Our staff encompasses a broad range of human differences and abilities including but not limited to: age, ethnicity, gender, geographic origin, race, faith, religion, and progressive values; and are committed to utilize them to best serve our clients.
Youth Advocacy Division
The Youth Advocacy Division is tasked with ensuring that every child in Massachusetts has access to zealous legal representation that incorporates a Youth Development Approach resulting in both legal and life success. Accordingly, YAD will lead, train, support, and oversee a diverse and collaborative juvenile defense bar across the state. Through individual representation and systemic advocacy, YAD also will partner with community organizations and local agencies to work toward creating safer and healthier communities.
Children and Family Law Division
The Children and Family Law Division (CAFL) provides legal representation to children and indigent parents in child welfare matters, including care and protection proceedings, children requiring assistance cases, actions to terminate parental rights, guardianship-of-a-minor cases, and any other child custody proceeding where the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is a party or where the court is considering granting custody to DCF. In Massachusetts, both children and indigent parents have a right to representation by counsel in child welfare cases. See G. L. c. 119, § 29 and Dep’t of Public Welfare v. J.K.B., 379 Mass. 1 (1979). Representation is provided by a panel of private attorneys and by staff attorneys in offices throughout the state.
Mental Health Litigation Division
The Mental Health Litigation Division provides attorneys for civil commitment proceedings in the District Courts and the Boston Municipal Court as well as attorneys in the Probate and Family Courts for guardianships, substituted judgment proceedings, and cases involving the validation of health care proxies. Civil commitments are handled by both panel attorneys and staff attorneys, while all of the cases in Probate Court are handled by private panel attorneys.
General Counsel’s Office
The General Counsel’s Office is responsible for providing legal counsel and support for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, all its divisions, offices, and activities including a leadership role in the carrying out of the agency’s fiscal, human resources, and operational responsibilities, internally and externally. The General Counsel also oversees the Community Liaison and the Audit & Oversight Department.
The Information Technology Division enables and enhances the Agency’s abilities to deliver our mission and serve our clients. The Information Technology Division performs this function by delivering technology capabilities for Agency staff and private counsel partners.
The Human Resources Department for the Committee for Public Counsel Services strives to provide exceptional service for our clients and our staff. We aim to uphold an environment which maximizes our employees’ experience, foster personal and professional growth, and enhances our staff’s mastery of the general practice of the law. By ensuring that CPCS provides an inviting and supportive atmosphere for our employees, we can best ensure superior representation for our clients.
CPCS is committed to protecting the fundamental constitutional and human rights of its clients by providing zealous advocacy, community-oriented defense, and excellent representation. We are dedicated to building a strong professional relationship with each of our clients, to understanding their diverse circumstances, and to meeting their needs. In striving always to achieve those goals, CPCS embraces diversity and inclusion as core values and is steadfast in our commitment to: (1) ensuring that CPCS staff members represent a broad range of human difference and experience; (2) providing a work climate that is respectful and that supports success; and (3) promoting the dignity and well-being of all staff members. CPCS’s leadership is responsible for ensuring excellence, diversity, and inclusion. Our ability to achieve these goals depends on the efforts of all of us.
Administration and Finance
The Administration and Finance units provide support for the agency in the areas of budgeting, accounting, facilities and equipment, records retention and reporting. This encompasses financial planning/budgeting, purchasing and procurement, equipment, inventories and accounts payables and receivables.
We initiate and execute fiscal policies which assure the efficiency, effectiveness, and financial strength of the agency. Our purpose is to ensure the smooth functioning of the agency’s support operations, so that CPCS’s clients receive the best defense possible.
Administration and Finance’s staff are orgainzed into three groups: Accounts Payable, Budget, and Facilities and Procurement.