NLADA's sections focus on specialized skills and subjects; enhance information sharing among those with similar interests; and issue statements, take public positions, and create materials on relevant topics. Sections of interest to the public defender community include:

American Council of Chief Defenders

The American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD) is a national community of public defense leaders dedicated to securing a fair justice system and ensuring high quality legal representation for people facing loss of life, freedom, or family.  A practice section of NLADA, ACCD draws from NLADA’s network of defenders to bring together chief and deputy chiefs of diverse indigent defense programs,  including public defender offices, assigned counsel systems, and contract systems. ACCD members collaborate through a listserv and annual conferences.  Learn more about ACCD.


The Appellate Section provides a forum for attorneys who handle criminal appeals to keep up to date on legal developments and obtain case-related assistance. 

Black Public Defender Association

The Black Public Defender Association (BPDA) is a new section within the NLADA defender community, and it is dedicated to the recruitment, support and development of Black defenders that advocate on behalf of indigent populations in the legal system. We recognize the extreme over-representation of low-income Black people in the legal system, and the under-representation of Black advocates in the public defense profession. Our goal is to promote diversity and inclusion within the public defender community.  Learn more about BPDA.

Death Penalty Litigation

The Death Penalty Litigation Section provides a forum for mitigation specialists, defense investigators, and defense attorneys who handle capital cases to keep up–to-date on legal developments and obtain case-related assistance.  Each year the section sponsors Life in the Balance, a nationally renowned capital defense training program that gathers the leading practitioners and experts from across the country. Section members regularly teach at Life in the Balance and other training programs for the death penalty defense community.

Latino Advocates

The Latino Advocates Section focuses on national legal and regulatory issues that affect low-income Latinos, including the intersection of race, ethnicity, and poverty. It also addresses substantive law issues of critical importance to Latino communities, such as immigration, education, and labor; it also offers support to Latino staff through networking, peer mentoring, training, and other appropriate mechanisms.

National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists

The National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation & Sentencing Advocacy (NASAMS)  is the only national organization devoted to the educational and professional development of mitigation specialists and sentencing advocates. NASAMS offers national and regional trainings, individual consultation, an internet forum and listserv, and other member services designed to support and enhance an effective mitigation practice.  Learn more about NASAMS

National Alliance of Indigent Defense Educators 

The National Alliance of Indigent Defense Educators (NAIDE) brings together indigent defense training directors and professionals to create premier programs in continuing legal education. NAIDE members share the latest legal developments, adult learning techniques, and breakthroughs in web-based and other distance-learning technologies through a listserv and Train-the-Trainers sessions at NLADA conferences.  NAIDE also advises other NLADA sections, such as the American Council of Chief Defenders, on best practices in defender training. Learn more about NAIDE.

Native American Law

The Native American Section focuses on the unique cultural problems affecting the delivery of legal services to Native American Indians. The section, working closely with the National Association of Indian Legal Services (NAILS), develops systems to provide effective civil and criminal representation to Native Americans living on and off reservations. The section provides technical assistance to offices that deliver legal services to Native Americans.


The Technology Section aims to serve the national legal services community on both the civil and defender sides and the established network of programs by providing leadership and knowledge regarding the use of technology to foster provision of quality legal services. It provides a forum within NLADA for development of a critical perspective regarding technology issues and supports efforts to bridge the "digital divide" and ensure that our client community is not further marginalized by lack of access to technology. The section also provides a voice to Congress and the Legal Services Corporation regarding technology issues and addresses issues of training, funding, and support for technology within NLADA, and within the legal services community.