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In-Person Program

CPCS Mental Health Litigation Certification Training

Statutes, rules, standards, and policies

9 am - 5 pm, Monday, April 11 through Friday, April 15, 2011
Massachusetts School of Law, 500 Federal Street, Andover
32.5 substantive credits, 0 ethics credits
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Product Description

CPCS' Mental Health Litigation Unit (MHLU) has adopted certification requirements and performance standards for attorneys seeking assignments in civil commitment and guardianship proceedings, and in appeals in these matters. The certification requirements for such assignments are outlined below.

Civil Commitment and Guardianship Proceedings

In order to obtain MHLU certification to accept assignments in mental health proceedings (e.g., civil commitments, guardianships, "Rogers" cases, "extraordinary treatment" cases), an attorney must apply for admission (see below) and, if accepted, attend the 5-day certification program Mental Health Proceedings and Advocacy for Assigned Counsel described below. Upon completion, participants will be granted conditional certification. Full certification will be granted upon successful completion of MHLU's mentor program and attendance at an eight- hour training program entitled Clinical Aspects of Mental Illness and Treatment. Information about this program will be posted on the MHLU website at: Practice_Areas/Mental_Health/training/trial_certification.html.

In order to maintain MHLU certification, attorneys must attend at least eight (8) hours of approved continuing legal education programs in each fiscal year (a fiscal year runs between July 1st and June 30th). 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.

Mental Health Appeals

In order to obtain certification to accept assignments in mental health appeals, attorneys must be certified to accept mental health assignments as described above, must apply for admission to the appellate panel and, if accepted, must complete the CPCS program Children and Family Law Appellate Certification Training. Thereafter, mental health certification must be maintained, as described above.

Mental Health Proceedings and Advocacy for Assigned Counsel

This course is a comprehensive 5-day review of the substantive law and procedural requisites in mental health proceedings. Conducted from a defense perspective, emphasis is placed upon litigation technique and strategy. Topics include commitment to psychiatric facilities, authorization to administer "extraordinary" treatment, guardianship of incapacitated adults, competence to stand trial, criminal responsibility, and selected evidentiary issues.

Completion of this program is required in order to obtain MHLU certification and accept assignments in mental health proceedings. Acceptance into this program for initial certification is by application only. Attorneys who are already MHLU-certified may attend this course for continuing legal education credit.

Take Away Materials

In addition to program materials, registrants in the Mental Health Proceedings and Advocacy for Assigned Counsel program also receive Mental Health Proceedings in Massachusetts. This "Manual for Defense Counsel," now in its 4th edition, takes the mystery out of the State's mental health legal system and provides a useful guide for advocates long after the program itself is over. Commitment proceedings, insanity acquittals, detention, examinations, and sensitive topics, such as competency, the attorney-client relationship, and confidentiality, are all covered. The book is replete with hundreds of citations to Massachusetts case law.

Application Deadline - Mental Health Proceedings and Advocacy for Assigned Counsel

Friday, March 4, 2011

How to Become Certified As a CPCS MHLU-Certified Attorney

Download and complete the Application for Mental Health Litigation Unit Certification form, available online at either the MHLU website ( or at MCLE's website ( Submit your completed application electronically to:

Upon being notified by CPCS that you have been accepted into the program, you may register for the training:

  • By mail, to MCLE, Inc., 10 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108
  • By phone: (617) 482-2205 or (800) 966-6253
  • By fax: (617) 482-94988

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  • $495
  • $445 MCLE Sponsor Members
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