Trial Attorney - CAFL Hampden County Conflict Office
The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), the public defender agency for Massachusetts, is seeking attorneys to work in the office of Family Justice Advocates (FJA), CPCS’s Children and Family Law Division Hampden County Conflicts Trial Office, located in Springfield. FJA provides legal representation to children and indigent parents in family regulation cases, including care and protection (C&P) proceedings, child requiring assistance (CRA) 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.
We fight for equal justice and human dignity by supporting our clients in achieving their legal and life goals. We zealously advocate for the rights of individuals and promote just public policy to protect the rights of all.
Courage • Accountability • Respect • Excellence
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION MISSION STATEMENT
CPCS is committed to protecting the fundamental constitutional and human rights of our assigned clients through zealous advocacy, community-oriented defense, and the fullness of excellent legal representation. We are dedicated to building and maintaining strong professional relationships, while striving to accept, listen to and respect the diverse circumstances of each client, as we dedicate ourselves to meeting their individual needs. It is our CPCS mission to achieve these goals, and in furtherance thereof, we embrace and endorse diversity, equity and inclusion as our core values as we maintain a steadfast commitment to: (1) Ensure that CPCS management and staff members represent a broad range of human differences and experience; (2) Provide a work climate that is respectful and supports success; and (3) Promote the dignity and well-being of all staff members. CPCS leadership is responsible for ensuring equity, diversity, and inclusion. The ability to achieve these goals with any level of certainty is ultimately the responsibility each member of the CPCS community.
CPCS is the state agency in Massachusetts responsible for providing an attorney when the state or federal constitution or a state statute requires the appointment of an attorney for a person who cannot afford to retain one. The agency provides representation in criminal, delinquency, youthful offender, child welfare, guardianship, mental health, sexually dangerous person, and sex offender registry cases, as well as in appeals and post-conviction and post-judgment proceedings related to those matters.
Family Justice Advocates is CAFL’s Hampden County Conflicts Trial Office in Springfield, Massachusetts. FJA provides legal representation to children and indigent parents and guardians in family regulation/child welfare cases in which (a) a CAFL staff attorney in a non-conflict office has been appointed to another party to the case or (b) a conflict of interest prevents CAFL staff attorneys in non-conflict offices from representing any party in the case. For example, an attorney in FJA may be appointed to represent a parent in the same case in which a staff attorney in CAFL’s existing Springfield trial office represents a child. Alternatively, an attorney in FJA may be appointed to represent a party in a case in which CAFL’s existing Springfield trial office attorneys are unable to represent any party because of conflicts relating to a current or former client of a CPCS staff attorney. FJA is considered a separate law firm from all other CPCS offices for conflict of interest purposes. To this end, it has a separate managerial system, separate physical offices and computer/technology systems, and other mechanisms in place to ensure its separation for conflicts purposes from other CPCS offices.
All CAFL trial offices, including FJA, are robust defender teams, including attorneys, paralegals, social workers, and administrative support staff. They provide legal representation and advocacy throughout Massachusetts to children and indigent parents in care and protection, child requiring assistance, termination of parental rights, guardianship-of-a-minor cases, and other types of custody and adoption proceedings. Team members work diligently to help and support FJA clients to achieve their legal and life goals.
FJA clients are diverse in every way imaginable. Accordingly, all FJA staff members must be culturally competent and able to work well with people of different races, ethnicities, gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations, abilities, languages, and other characteristics.
Springfield, the third largest city in Massachusetts, is located in Western Massachusetts along the Connecticut River. It is centrally located: Northampton is 25 minutes away, Hartford is 27 minutes away, Worcester is 55 minutes away, Boston is 90 minutes away, and New York City is 2 ½ hours away. Springfield is best known for being the birthplace of basketball and the home of Theodor Geisel, better known as “Dr. Seuss.”
FJA’s legal advocacy plays a critical role in cases that affect families. For a parent involved in a care and protection case, having a skilled FJA lawyer may mean the difference between the family’s reunification and the termination of parental rights – the “death penalty of family law.” For a teenager who is the subject of a truancy CRA case, FJA’s advocacy may secure the special education services that enable the client to succeed in school and avoid being placed in a foster home. For siblings looking for stability after the court has freed them for adoption, an FJA attorney will fight to ensure that they are provided a permanent home – one that allows them to stay together.
New Trial Attorneys in the FJA office and the non-conflict CAFL Offices begin their CPCS career with a nationally recognized, comprehensive, skills-based training course to ensure they are ready to represent their clients to their full capabilities. Continuing legal education programs for new and experienced Trial Attorneys are held periodically to ensure that our Trial Attorneys are up to date on the law and have the skills necessary to provide zealous representation to their clients.
The duties of the FJA Trial Attorney include:
- Interviewing adult clients;
- Visiting and interviewing child clients;
- Conducting legal research and writing;
- Conducting pre-72-hour hearing investigation, including reviewing pleadings and exhibits, locating and interviewing witnesses, preparing witnesses, gathering facts from the DCF social workers and other collateral providers, consulting with other parties’ counsel regarding their position, collecting and reviewing documentary evidence, identifying objections to testimonial and documentary evidence, and drafting appropriate motions;
- Obtaining and reviewing the DCF file, obtaining the DCF action plan and reviewing it with the client, preparing the client to meet with the court investigator, and preparing motions to strike inadmissible portions of DCF records and the court investigator report;
- Drafting and filing necessary motions regarding discovery, reasonable efforts, services, placement, visitation, and other matters;
- Preparing pre-trial memoranda, preparing the client for trial, and developing a trial strategy with the client;
- Preparing for and attending Foster Care Reviews;
- Reviewing DCF’s permanency plans and filing objections, if necessary;
- Representing the client at hearings regarding extraordinary medical treatment;
- Representing the client at care and protection, termination of parental rights, guardianship of a minor, and other trials in the juvenile courts and the probate and family courts;
- Representing clients in interlocutory appeals;
- Representing clients in post-trial and post-judgment matters;
- Working with the entire Conflict Office legal team, including social workers and paralegals; and,
- Other duties as assigned.