As an association, NACDL provides many services and benefits to its members. NACDL takes great pride in its educational offerings, legal resources, timely and relevant news items of interest, numerous amicus briefs submitted in the tireless fight to ensure justice for all accused of crimes, and opportunities provided for members to network and share knowledge with peers. These benefits are readily available to all members.
But there is another NACDL member benefit that may not be immediately apparent to all members — the ability to shape public policy. As a group, NACDL has the power to foster criminal justice reform. NACDL continuously monitors legislation that has the potential to dramatically affect the way attorneys practice law, the rights of clients, and the rights of U.S. citizens as a whole. Whether NACDL members choose to take advantage of this benefit not only impacts the members themselves, but it affects their peers, the entire legal profession, and the public.
The importance of individual grassroots advocacy cannot be overstated. As an association, NACDL uses its powerful voice to promote a fair justice system for all accused of a crime. NACDL has over 10,000 direct members. That many people speaking in a unified voice can dramatically influence public policy on the national and local levels. NACDL members can be a force to be reckoned with, but only if all members do their part. In advocacy, people get out what they put in.
With both the importance of advocacy and each member’s busy schedule in mind, NACDL works hard to make advocacy as quick and as easy as possible. People who do not think they have the time should consider this: On average, engaging in a pre-planned advocacy effort takes less than one minute. One minute! Who doesn’t have one minute to support criminal justice reform?
People who have never engaged in advocacy have no need to be nervous. NACDL does all the prep work. If NACDL is initiating an e-mail campaign, a member can simply open the e-mail, click “Take Action” in the top right corner, and fill out the Web form with name, e-mail, and address. Click “Send” and the job is done!
Calling a legislative office is just as easy. The person answering the phone will not be the actual official (unless of course, you have a personal relationship; if that is the case, please let NACDL know), but rather an intern or a legislative assistant. Simply identify yourself as a constituent and tell the person why you are calling.
My name is . I am a constituent of Representative/Senator . I am calling to urge the Representative/Senator to support/oppose .
A caller can provide a rationale for his or her position, but this is certainly not required. After the caller states his or her views, the staff member on the other end of the line will ask for personal information so that the call can be logged and the caller’s concerns can be addressed by the legislative office. Callers will be asked for name, address, and phone number. No one is required to give a phone number. But in order to confirm that a caller is a constituent, the caller will be required to give an address.
The staff person who answers the phone receives many calls every day, and most of the time the staff is on the receiving end of an earful. It should be no surprise that courtesy goes a long way in getting a caller’s message to an elected official.
No member will be directly affected by every advocacy alert NACDL sends. But every issue NACDL addresses directly affects criminal defense law as a whole and constitutional rights generally. When members receive advocacy alerts from NACDL, they should take the time to read them and respond. The more voices added to NACDL’s unified voice, the stronger NACDL’s capacity to promote a rational and humane criminal justice system, and the greater NACDL’s chance to effect change.
NACDL is here to assist its members in any way possible. Contact NACDL’s Manager for Grassroots Advocacy, Christopher Glen, at email@example.com, for:
- Questions regarding advocacy
Information on how to get involved in advocacy
Assistance with setting up a legislative meeting
Assistance in preparing materials for a legislative meeting
Talking points and background materials
Advocacy strategy and assistance on state and local issues