Trial Certification

IN ORDER TO OBTAIN CERTIFICATION to accept assignments in mental health proceedings (e.g., civil commitments, guardianships, and substituted judgment cases), an attorney must apply for admission to the panel.  At least one year of litigation experience is required. If accepted, a person must attend the two-part training program described below and then successfully complete a mentorship program.


Part 1:  “Mental Health Proceedings and Advocacy for Assigned Counsel”

A comprehensive five-day review of substantive mental health law and the procedural rules applicable in mental health proceedings. Conducted from a defense perspective, emphasis is placed upon litigation technique and strategy. [Sponsored by CPCS and Mass. Continuing Legal Education, Inc. (MCLE). Written material: Goldman, S., Mental Health Proceedings in Massachusetts: A Manual for Defense Counsel.  See training schedule for next session.]


Part 2:  “Clinical Aspects of Mental Illness and Treatment”

An overview of the clinical perspectives on the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, with an emphasis on those issues typically raised in mental health proceedings (e.g., the prediction of dangerousness, treatment with antipsychotic medication). [Sponsored by CPCS and the University of Mass. Medical Center, Dept. of Psychiatry. Instructors: faculty of UMass Dept. of Psychiatry. Written material: Selected articles by the faculty and others. See training schedule for next session.]

IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN MENTAL HEALTH CERTIFICATION, attorneys must attend at least eight (8) hours of approved continuing legal education programs in each fiscal year (i.e., 7/1 – 6/30). Most programs are jointly sponsored by CPCS and MCLE. Written materials are developed for each program by the respective faculty.

Membership in Mental Health Litigation Unit E-Group also is required. ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING THE LIST SERVE PLEASE CONTACT MARK LARSEN, DIRECTOR AT

Appellate Certification

In order to accept mental health appellate assignments, an attorney must be certified to accept mental health assignments (described above), must apply for admission to the appellate panel and must then complete a training program entitled “Appellate Advocacy and Procedure in Civil Cases.” [Sponsored by CPCS and MCLE. Faculty are experienced mental health and appellate counsel. Written materials are developed for each program by the faculty. See training schedule for next session.] Thereafter, mental health certification must be maintained, as described above.