NAMI National Legal Center
NAMI National site with legal referral service, local affiliates and special needs estate planning.
The NAMI Legal Center provides lawyer referrals as a service to our members and the general public. We require attorneys on our Lawyer Referral Panel to complete questionnaires regarding their specialties, fees, education and liability insurance. Communications to the Center remains confidential, as does our attorney information. Are you interested in receiving a general lawyer referral (civil commitment, civil rights, criminal law, family law, health law, insurance, medical malpractice, SSI/SSDI)? Elder Law and Estate Planning Lawyer Referral Panel– Are you interested in obtaining information and/or representation related to Estate Planning for a loved one with mental illness? You may contact the NAMI Legal Center by email or by calling 800-950-6264. Please furnish full name, address with zip code and telephone number to help us find legal aid in your area.
Massachusetts Legal Aid Services
Health Law Advocates (HLA) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm whose mission is to provide pro bono legal representation to low-income residents experiencing difficulty accessing or paying for needed medical services. HLA is committed to ensuring universal access to quality health care in Massachusetts, particularly for those who are most at risk due to such factors as race, gender, disability, age, or geographic location. HLA helps individuals to challenge denials of insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatment, and we advocate for the rights of consumers under the mental health parity laws.”
With its partner organization, Health Care For All, HLA combines legal expertise with grassroots organizing and policy reform to advance the statewide movement for universal health care access
Legal aid services throughout the state. Depending upon your age, income and the kind of legal problem you are having, you may be eligible for free legal help. To find out which legal services programs help people who live in your town, use the Find Legal Aid search– you can search by town or zip code. (These programs cannot help with criminal law problems.)
Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts, providing direct representation to low income children in Eastern Massachusetts, and technical assistance and training to lay and professional communities throughout New England on issues affecting children’s education, civil rights, custody, health and welfare.
Massachusetts Advocates for Children, non-profit organization dedicated to being an independent and effective voice for children who face significant barriers to equal educational and life opportunities. email@example.com, Phone: 617-357-8431.
The Clubhouse Family Legal Support Project (CFLSP) provides legal representation and assistance to low income parents diagnosed with a mental illness who are seeking to access or regain custody of their children. The CFLSP is a partnership between MHLAC and the metro-west clubhouse, Employment Options, Inc. The Project is supported and funded by the Department of Mental Health (DMH), and the Massachusetts Bar Foundation (MBF).
CFLSP is committed to serving parents diagnosed with mental illness because they are at high risk of losing custody of and/or all contact with their children in the family courts, particularly if without legal representation. Contact them by phone 617-338-2345 or (toll free- MA only) 1-800-342-9092, or intake email Intake@mhlac.org. General business hours are 9:00 AM -5:00 PM Monday – Friday. Intake hours are 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM on Monday, Wednesday & Friday and the Intake Line phone is 617-338-2345 press “4″ or toll free 1-800-342-9092 press “4″.
New Interpretation of FMLA Issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division: a new Administrator Interpretation that expands the Family and Medical Leave Act’s (FMLA) current language to include adult children who are unable to care for themselves because of a mental or physical disability and whose disabilities occurred before or after the age of 18. The previous interpretation of the law was unclear as it applied to adult children with disabilities.
This Interpretation also clarifies FMLA-protected leave for a parent is not dependent on the age of the adult child and the onset of their disability, and broadens the definition of “disability” to reflect the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). Ultimately, this Interpretation means that more parents will be able to take FMLA- protected leave from their jobs to care for their adult children with disabilities.
The Legal Advocacy and Resource Center (LARC) has operated a free legal hotline in support of its mission to help low-income Massachusetts residents with legal problems by providing quality legal information and advice, and by making referrals to legal and social service agencies. LARC also completes intake screenings for Greater Boston Legal Services and the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association, as well as, family law intake screenings for Community Legal Services And Counseling Center and limited intake screening for MetroWest Legal Services
LARC provides concrete legal information on a wide range of legal issues. We can, however, be most helpful to people calling about the following types of cases:
We do not provide information about Criminal, Immigration, Personal Injury or Workers’ Compensation matters or about cases taking place outside of Massachusetts. Our hotline number (for brief advice and referrals): 617-603-1700 or 1-800-342-LAWS. You can also apply for legal services online.
Americans with Disabilities Act and MA Commission Against Discrimination
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by George H.W. Bush in 1990. It was later amended in 2009. “Covered entities” must make reasonable accommodations for covered individuals who are qualified for job positions. An employer cannot simply dismiss a potential employee because of a disability.
The ADA is not the only federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Learn about other disability rights laws.
The Disability Law Lowdown Podcasts, provides information on disability laws and other subjects available to download and listen to, as well as podcast transcripts to read. Information covered includes the Americans with Disabilities Act , the Air Carrier Access Act , the Ticket to Work program, the Fair Housing Act and other laws and programs that support the rights and independence of people with disabilities. This information is also available in Spanish. Disability Law Lowdown ASL videos are on YouTube.
ADA Information Line, talk to a U.S. Department of Justice ADA specialist in confidence or order DOJ publications. Phone: 800 – 514 – 0301.
Disability Rights Legal Center, provides legal information, direct representation and referrals for disability-related legal issues. Services are free to consumers, and training is available to businesses as well. Central Intake Line: (213) 736-1334.
Center for Public Representation, dedicated to serving individuals with disabilities; a public interest law firm assisting people with disabilities. Although they rarely provide legal assistance on an individual basis, they have been a major force in promoting improvements in services for citizens with mental disabilities throughout the country. Phone: 413-586-6024.
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD): Boston office: (617) 994-6000. Address: 1 Ashburton Place Boston, MA 02108. MCAD also has offices in Springfield, Worcester and New Bedford. A charge of discrimination must be filed in person at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) offices. If you believe you have been discriminated against, you should come to the MCAD immediately to file a complaint. In all but a few exceptions, the MCAD cannot accept complaints based on incidents over 300 days old.
Student education records are official and confidential documents protected by one of the nation’s strongest privacy protection laws, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA, also known as the Buckley Amendment.
Campus Mental Health: Know Your Rights! A guide for students who want to seek help for mental illness or emotional distress. Produced by the Leadership21 Committee of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Chapters include: You are Not Alone, Seeking Help, Privacy, Academic Accomaodations, Discipline, Involuntary Leave of Absence, Going to a Psychiatric Hospital, Forced Medication, Resources. Phone: 202-467-5730.
The Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities has developed a wide-ranging collection of resources for the field. Our knowledge translation activities include peer reviewed publications in national journals, nearly one hundred toolkits, monographs, and guidebooks designed to provide policy and practical guidance to consumers and providers working to expand community participation, and a catalogue of exemplary programs. All of these can be accessed here, at no cost. The UPenn Collaborative on Community Integration is A Rehabilitation Research & Training Center Promoting Communitytion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities, funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation rch (NIDRR). For more information, please visit us at.
Disability Law Center (DLC) of Massachusetts . DLC is a private, non-profit organization responsible for providing protection and advocacy for the rights of Massachusetts residents with disabilities.
The Disability Law Center helps with disability-related legal problems in these areas:
The Disability Law Center (DLC) has numerous legal publications and information resources available for download at the Disability Law Center Information Resources. The Resource Topics include: General, Accessibility, Benefits, Consumer, Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI), Education, Elder, Employment, Health, and Housing.
Disability Information: Massachusetts Network of Information Providers Fact Sheet, Legal Resources
Volunteer Legal Services
Private Bar Associations
The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP) provides free civil legal assistance to low-income residents of Greater Boston, primarily through the pro bono services of private attorneys. VLP makes access to justice possible for people who cannot afford a lawyer.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project serves clients living in the following cities and towns in Massachusetts: Acton, Arlington, Ashland, Bedford, Bellingham, Belmont, Boston, Braintree, Brookline, Cambridge, Canton, Carlisle, Chelsea, Cohasset, Concord, Dedham. Dover, Everett, Foxborough, Framingham, Franklin, Hampton Hingham, Holbrook, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Hull, Kerkshire, Lexington, Lincoln, Malden, Marlborough, Maynard, Medfield, Medford, Medway, Melrose, Millis, Milton, Natick, Needham, Newton, Norfolk, Norwell, Norwood, Plainville, Quincy, Randolph, Revere, Scituate, Sharon, Sherborn, Somerville, Stoneham, Stow, Sudbury, Wakefield, Walpole, Waltham, Watertown, Wayland, Wellesley, Weston, Westwood, Weymouth, Winchester, Winthrop, Woburn, Worcester, Wrentham.
VLP handles cases in the following areas: Landlord/Tenant, Homeownership, Foreclosure Prevention, Family Law, Guardianship, Probate (Wills & Estates), Bankruptcy, Unemployment Insurance, Masshealth (Medicaid) Prior Approval, Criminal Record Sealing, Consumer Assistance to Non-Profit Organizations
The Lawyers Clearinghouse provides pro bono legal services to nonprofit organizations, groups seeking nonprofit status, and guests of area homeless shelters . We offer lawyers meaningful and rewarding pro bono opportunities. We also provide educational programs for nonprofit organizations and lawyers.
Dial-A-Lawyer, free legal advice is available on the first Wednesday of each month. Attorneys volunteer at the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Boston headquarters by providing free, basic legal information by phone to callers from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, to assist anyone and everyone, but particularly those who are not eligible for free legal services or cannot afford to hire a lawyer.To use Dial-A-Lawyer, call (617) 338-0610
Legal Aid by Students
The Harvard Legal Aid Bureau is a student-run non-profit law firm that provides free legal services regarding housing, family law, government benefits, or wage and hour law to low or no income people in Suffolk County and parts of Middlesex County. Services are provided by court-certified student attorneys who are supervised and taught by practicing attorneys. Funding comes from the Harvard Law School and private contributions.
Massachusetts Medical Privacy Laws
Know Your Discharge Planning Rights From Massachusetts Licensed Psychiatric Units 10-2-12 by NAMI Massachusetts.
brochure_rogers_guardian (PDF) Authorizing the Use of Antipsychotic Medications, Questions and Answers by the Department of Mental Health.
Your Medical Record Rights Mass (PDF) by Joy Pritts, JD, Health Policy Institutes.
Massachusetts Housing Laws
Frequently Asked Questions prepared by the Mass. Housing Court for Tenant/Landlord Disputes including Mediation as an option:
2008 edition of Legal Tactics: Tenants’ Rights in Massachusetts . This handbook provides practical information about tenants’ rights in private housing—housing that is owned by an individual or a privately owned company. In each chapter, reference is made to sample letters and court forms. To get these forms see the list below or go to Self Help Forms where these same forms are organized by topic. If you live in public housing, go to the Public Housing section. You may also purchase Legal Tactics from Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education by calling 1-800-966-6253.
Legal Services for Youth
Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee (MHLAC) created the DYS Project to provide legal information, advice, and representation to youth involved with the Department of Youth Services , as well as to their families, and advocates. The Project provides legal representation on civil matters to post-dispositional DYS-involved youth with a focus on access to quality mental health care and special education services for those confined or in the community. Intake Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Intake Phone Numbers : 617-338-2345 ext.20 or toll free 1-800-342-9092 ext. 20
The Youth Advocacy Project offers legal representation and advocacy to children under 17 years old who are charged as delinquents or youthful offenders. The Youth Advocacy Project provides these services at a number of stages. The Youth Advocacy Project can offer advice and consultation on general delinquency issues.
Committee for Public Counsel (CPC), Children and Family Law (CAFL) Program provides legal representation to children and indigent parents in child welfare matters, including care and protection proceedings, children in need of services cases (CHINS), actions to terminate parental rights, state agency-sponsored guardianships, and any other child custody proceeding where the Department of Social Services (DSS) is a party or where the court is considering granting custody to DSS. In Massachusetts , both children and indigent parents have a right to representation by counsel in child welfare cases.
Prisoner’s Legal Services
Prisoners’ Legal Services (formerly Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services), the office focuses on four issues: health and mental health care, guard-on-prisoner violence, physical conditions of confinement, and segregation and isolation, (they do not provide criminal defense services).
Criminal Records and Applying for a Job. Prepared by Western Massachusetts Legal Services With Assistance of a Grant from the Union Community Fund of the Pioneer Valley 7/2004.
Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI). The CORI Reader, (38 page PDF prepared by Mass. Law Reform Institute) can be downloaded from this site.
Department of Mental Health Complaint Form
Dept. of Mental Health complaint form This Complaint Form was created by the Department of Mental Health (DMH) and may be downloaded from the table below and completed by anyone wanting to make a complaint about dangerous, illegal, and/or inhumane conditions or treatment experienced by a DMH client or anyone receiving services from a program or facility licensed or operated by DMH or contracted with DMH. For further action, please mail the completed Complaint Form to the following address:
Department of Mental Health
Central Office of Investigations
25 Staniford St., Boston, MA 02114
If you have any questions regarding this form, please call Cherylanne Mealhow, DMH Administrative Services Manager, at (617) 626-8108 or the DMH Central Office Information and Referral Specialist at 1-800-221-0053 (during regular business hours only, Monday through Friday, 8:45am – 5:00pm).
Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), Hotline in English and Spanish M-F 1:30-4:30pm , HIV related protections, Gay/Straight Alliances, transgender issues and helps with harassment
Minority Legal Services
Find a lawyer in your area using FindLaw
FindLaw for the Public, thousands of articles and resources in scores of categories to help the public with a wide range of legal issues, from bankruptcy to landlord/tenant law to selecting a lawyer:
Parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys come to Wrightslaw for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities.
Committee for Public Counsel (CPC)
Committee for Public Counsel (CPC), Mental Health Litigation Unit, provide trial and appellate representation to indigent persons against whom are filed petitions seeking commitment to public or private psychiatric facilities or judicial authorization to administer or terminate certain types of treatment (e.g., antipsychotic medication, aversive behavior modification, life-support mechanisms). The CPC also trains, and is available to assist, criminal defense attorneys in respect to mental health issues that arise in the criminal justice context (e.g., competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility.
American Bar Association, Lawyer Referral & Information Service, Massachusetts:
Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (Search engine to assist in finding a lawyer)