Thirty-seven General Counsel from Major Corporations Urge Congress to Pass EQUAL Defense Act

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Release Date: 
Friday, March 18, 2022


Thirty-seven General Counsel from Major Corporations Urge Congress to Pass EQUAL Defense Act


WASHINGTON – The National Legal Aid & Defender Association announced today that general counsel from 37 large corporations sent a letter urging Congress to pass H.R. 1408, the Ensuring Quality Access to Legal (EQUAL) Defense Act. If passed, the EQUAL Defense Act would enable public defenders to maintain manageable workloads and support pay parity between public defenders and prosecutors.

“A person’s access to quality and effective representation when accused of a crime should not depend on their economic status or zip code.  We must invest in public defender systems that afford every person access to zealous representation regardless of one’s ability to pay,” said NLADA President April Frazier Camara. “We commend all the corporate leaders who have taken this stand in support of the passage of the EQUAL Defense Act.”

The 37 general counsel sent the letter on National Public Defense Day, the 59th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Gideon v. Wainwright that affirmed the right to legal counsel in criminal cases. Since Gideon however, the right to counsel has not been realized for thousands of people across America who are represented by dedicated but overburdened attorneys.

Excessive workloads severely limit the time an attorney can spend on a case. This can prevent them from thoroughly investigating the facts, effectively preparing for court, or even being present during critical pretrial stages of the case.

The EQUAL Defense Act would create a $250 million annual grant program to help public defender systems develop and implement evidence-based workload limits and to incentivize pay parity with prosecutors.

To learn more about the EQUAL Defense Act, please email Rabiah A. Burks, [email protected].


The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), founded in 1911, is America’s oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state and local levels, playing a leadership role in the creation of public defender systems and other important institutions from The Sentencing Project to the Legal Services Corporation. A leader in the development of national standards for civil legal aid and public defense, NLADA also provides advocacy, training and technical assistance for equal justice advocates across the country.