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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) is the preeminent organization in the United States advancing the mission of the nation's criminal defense lawyers to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or other misconduct. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's thousands of direct members in 28 countries - and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys -- include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, active U.S. military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness within America's criminal justice system.

Vision and Mission

NACDL envisions a society where all individuals receive fair, rational, and humane treatment within the criminal justice system.

NACDL’S mission is to serve as a leader, alongside diverse coalitions, in identifying and reforming flaws and inequities in the criminal justice system, and redressing systemic racism, and ensuring that its members and others in the criminal defense bar are fully equipped to serve all accused persons at the highest level.


NACDL is committed to enhancing the capacity of the criminal defense bar to safeguard fundamental constitutional rights. Towards this goal, NACDL works to activate the voices of members of the criminal defense bar and others in the broader community concerned about criminal justice reform to most effectively root out systemic injustice within the criminal justice system; to place all forms of inequities, including systemic racism, at the forefront of criminal justice reform; to increase participation among underrepresented members of the criminal defense bar in NACDL; and to educate and prepare criminal defense lawyers.

NACDL harnesses the unique perspectives of NACDL members to advocate for policy and practice improvements in the criminal justice system. NACDL does this by identifying and advancing policy change priorities that reflect the criminal defense bar’s fundamental concerns. NACDL also works to increase public understanding of the criminal justice system inequities by sharing research, positions, assets, and other tactical and strategic resources and efforts with key coalitions that can enhance public outreach. Finally, NACDL works to create and implement projects and programs to improve policy and practice in the criminal justice system and uphold and expand constitutional rights.

NACDL is committed to building its organizational capacity to enable it to successfully achieve its mission and strategic impact goals. NACDL is committed to ongoing efforts to take advantage of modernized governance processes to ensure appropriate oversight and robust fulfillment of fiduciary responsibilities, and cultivate a highly-engaged Board of Directors that serves as the organization’s ambassadors and ensures its financial sustainability. NACDL aims to increase and support its staff to successfully implement its strategic impact goals, and to diversify and grow revenues to support those goals and ensure NACDL’s long-term sustainability. NACDL is committed to enhanced operational efficiency and effectiveness by ensuring NACDL has the facilities, technology, and financial systems needed to fulfill the strategic impact goals. Finally, NACDL is committed to strengthening its communications to build NACDL’s brand and visibility, and effectively reach all stakeholders.

This website

This site is designed as both an open forum for the discussion of criminal justice policies and practice as well as a private online service for members of NACDL. You are welcome to explore this site and and email comments to assist@nacdl.org.

Learn even more about NACDL and the hard issues faced today in shaping criminal justice policies and practice. Simply click on any of the menu selections always available on the left-hand column of each page.



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