Defender Standards

NLADA promulgates standards for quality indigent defense representation. Defenders use these standards to improve their own representation; policymakers use them to determine how to allocate criminal justice resources; and researchers use them to measure the quality and impact of defenders’ work.

The "black letter" text of standards is available for free on our website, at the links below. NLADA members have access to the full versions of standards, including commentary, related standards, and legal sources. Printed versions of standards are also available in our store.

Member Library Printed Standards


Performance Guidelines for Criminal Defense Representation (2006) 

Model Contract for Public Defense Services (2000)

Defender Training and Development Standards (1997)

Standards for the Administration of Assigned Counsel Systems (1989)

Standards for the Appointment and Performance of Counsel in Death Penalty Cases (1988)

Guidelines for Negotiating and Awarding Governmental Contracts for Criminal Defense Services (1984)

Standards and Evaluation Design for Appellate Defender Offices (1980)

Guidelines for Legal Defense Systems in the United States (1976)

National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, The Defense (1973)

Uniform Law Commissioners' Model Public Defender Act (1970)


Members also have access to these standards-based documents: 

Collected Defender Standards (2016)

Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee on Indigent Defense Services (1996)

Indigent Defense Caseloads and Common Sense: An Update (1994)