If you’re interested in criminal defense work or advocating for reform of the criminal justice system, then you’ll want to check out the website of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). The NACDL is an organization that “encourages, at all levels of federal, state and local government, a rational and humane criminal justice policy for America.” The website is divided into six main sections, and some sections are available only to NACDL members.
The first section focuses on continuing legal education related to criminal defense work, and it offers patrons opportunities to purchase access to webinars or self-study materials.
The next section is related to advocacy, and it details the NACDL’s efforts to reform criminal law rules and regulations at the federal and state levels, and site visitors can access letters and public comments issued by the NACDL on various issues. This section also provides access to information on litigation in which the NACDL is currently involved as either a party or amicus. Finally, there is subsection dedicated to providing resources for people who want to get involved in the reform efforts.
The website also has a section on current news, including releases by the NACDL and links to stories related to criminal defense work. Members of the NACDL can also access the online version of the NACDL’s journal publication, The Champion, and nonmembers can preview articles in that journal.
Following the news section is a area that provides website visitors with practical resources. Among these resources are ethics opinions published by the organization’s Ethics Advisory Committee. There are also state-by-state breakdowns of collateral consequences of conviction and sentencing trends. Members can also access the ethics emergency hotline, expert database, and lawyers’ assistance program that advocates for lawyers who are threatened with contempt, disqualification, or subpoena for privileged information.
Finally, the site has a section on membership information, including benefits and costs. The organization offers discounts for various people, including students, public defenders/legal services attorneys, and attorneys who have practiced for less than five years.
Overall, the NACDL’s website offers a great introduction to current issues of criminal defense work. Membership is necessary to get the premium benefits of the website, but nonmembers can still access a good deal of helpful resources.