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UMass Chan Medical School Fellowship in Forensic Psychiatry

Didactic Seminars

The core didactic seminars are attended by fellows in forensic psychiatry, post-doctoral fellows in forensic psychology, residents, medical students, and visitors. This makes for a group of 10-12 people that is highly conducive to discussion.


Foundations for Forensic Mental Health Practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Duration/Time: 3-day course (September); 2-day course (December)
Discussants: multiple faculty from UMass Chan Medical School and DMH
Scope: basic training conference* organized by UMass Chan Medical School Law and Psychiatry faculty on behalf of the Department of Mental Health as part of the training for psychiatrists and psychologists who do public sector forensic evaluations. Topics covered include an overview of the mental health, mental retardation, legal and correctional systems; a review of evaluations for competence to stand trial, criminal responsibility, and juvenile issues; and a review of civil commitment, violence risk assessments, multicultural considerations, report writing, and forensic ethics.
Requirements: Attendance and participation
*This is also a requirement to the Designated Forensic Professional Training that the fellow (a.k.a candidate) is preparing for in parallel with the fellowship.

Forensic Fellowship Seminar
Duration/Time: September – June; Tuesdays 8:30-10:30 am (2 hrs/week)
Discussants: Various faculty from UMass Chan forensic psychiatry and psychology.
Scope: Provides the critical empirical and theoretical foundations for specialization in forensic psychiatry and forensic psychology. Covers a wide range of forensic topics, including areas of criminal and civil forensic evaluations, juvenile evaluations, professional ethics, and psychiatric evidence and expert witness testimony. The curriculum is designed in accordance with ACGME requirements.
Requirements: weekly readings from select textbooks, and articles' binder provided by the program.

Landmark Mental Health Case Law Seminar
Duration/Time: September – June; Tuesdays 15:00-16:30 pm (1.5 hrs/week)
Discussants: Paul Noroian, M.D., Darina Griffin, J.D. with occasional guest participants.
Scope: Fellows discuss over 100 of the most important cases in mental health law, selected by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law and the course directors. Significant Massachusetts legal cases selected by the Committee for Designated Forensic Professionals are also on the list of landmark cases. Important legal, clinical and historical issues for each case are discussed to enable fellows to learn how to read and analyze law, and how to think about and apply mental health law and policy to practice.
Requirements: fellows read select landmark cases and prepare briefs weekly to discuss with co-fellows and discuss with faculty.

Summer Afternoon Educational Series
Duration/Time: July-August; various days and times (~2hrs/week)
Discussants: Paul Noroian, M.D., Margarita Abi Zeid Daou, MD
Scope: (1) Introductory lectures to forensic mental health, history and ethics, in addition to initiation to the Massachusetts legal and mental health system. (2) fellows tour various correctional, addiction and DYS facilities across MA to become familiar with different structures and services available to clients.
Requirements: select readings provided by faculty.
Facilities toured*:

  • MCI – Framingham
  • DYS – Worcester and Zara Cisco Brough Center – Westborough
  • Worcester House of Corrections
  • Bridgewater State Hospital
  • Taunton WRAP program

*This is also a requirement to the Designated Forensic Professional Training that the fellow (a.k.a candidate) is preparing for in parallel with the fellowship.

Legal Bootcamp
Time: July-August, Thursdays afternoons (~2hrs/week)
Discussants: Nathan Frommer, JD; Eden Predergast, JD, Paul Noroian, MD; Margarita Abi Zeid Daou, MD
Scope:The legal bootcamp course will cover basic legal concepts. The fellow will learn what binding vs. persuasive authority is, how to read appellate cases, where to find cases, statutes, and briefs in pending appellate cases. Certain portions of the Bill of Rights will be covered. Practical procedures in criminal cases will be covered and the different paths criminal cases may take through litigation. Psychotherapist/patient privilege will be covered, including the Lamb warning. Fellows will be introduced to Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) reports and the abbreviations used therein. Competency to stand trial and criminal responsibility concepts will be introduced. Legal determination of risk of harm for purposes of civil commitment cases in Massachusetts will be covered. Evidentiary issues in civil cases will be covered, specifically how they relate to civil commitment cases. The fellow will learn about guardianship in Massachusetts, including the laws covering guardianship, competence to consent to medical treatment, and the substituted judgment standard.

Requirements: Attendance and participation

Law and Psychiatry Seminar Series
Duration/Time: September-June; every other Monday 09:00-10:30 am (1.5hrs/week)
Discussants: guest presenters (local and invited)
Scope: (1) Faculty and fellows of the Law and Psychiatry Program meet as a group to hear and discuss topical presentations of forensic research projects, clinical cases, and legal and systems developments relevant to Law and Psychiatry. (2) fellows' presentations
Requirements: (1) regular attendance year-round; (2) Psychiatry fellows present highlights from AAPL that year and psychology fellows highlights from APLS (3) Fellows will present their own research at the end of the year and will present a case conference on a case they encountered over the year.

PCL-R training
Duration/Time: Offered at various times during the academic year (two-day training)
Discussants: faculty from UMass Chan Law and Psychiatry department.
Scope: workshop on administering the Psychopathy Checklist – Revised assessment.
Requirements: attendance and participation

Law and Psychiatry Case Conference Series
Duration/Time: September-June; once monthly x 1 hr
Discussants: Law and Psychiatry faculty and clinical faculty from WRCH
Scope: fellows present their cases to each other and to faculty and discuss challenges brought by individual cases in interacting with defendants, formulating cases, applying legal standards and preparing for testimony.
Requirements: Fellows to present cases they encounter

Legal Updates and Forensic Journal Club
Duration/Time: September-June; once monthly x 1 hr
Scope: Review and discuss current issues in mental health law, including developing cases in local and out-of-state courts and major decisions anticipated or reached by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) and SCOTUS.
Requirements: fellows to present on particular topic decided during the year depending on what's current.


Grand Rounds
Duration/Time: September-June; every Thursday 12:00-13:00 (1hr)
Discussants: local and invited guest speakers by the UMass Chan department of Psychiatry
Scope: continuing education about general topics in psychiatry, physicians’ mental health, policy, psychopharmacology updates and others.
Requirements: elective participation depending on fellows' time (in person or by webinar).

Neuropsychiatry Journal Club
Duration/Time: September-June; every Monday 12:00-13:00 (1hr)
Discussants: various, organized by the current fellows in neuropsychiatry at UMass Chan department of Psychiatry
Scope: various topics on neuropsychiatry including dementias, autoimmune encephalitides, sleep disturbances, encephalopathies, etc.
Requirements: elective participation depending on fellows' time (in person or by webinar).

Risk Avoidance & Risk Management Conference
Duration/Time: typically, on a Saturday in March (8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m)
Discussants: various, organized by Massachusetts Psychiatric Society (MPS)
Scope: topics include suicide risk assessment and prevention; approach to the violent patient and issues of malpractice, legal aspects of closing a psychiatric practice and other similar topics.
Requirements: elective participation


AAPL review course
Duration/Time: 3 full days in October
Discussants: various experts, designated by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
Scope: review course in forensic psychiatry with topics ranging from criminal to civil, including adult and juvenile matters, report writing and testimony.
Requirements: attendance required and cost covered by the department.


  • AAPL presentation
  • Resident or medical student lectures
  • Lecture to law enforcement and court personnel
  • Present at the Forensic Interest Group of MPS.