2013 NLADA Annual Conference

  • Other

NLADA's Annual Conference is the leading national training event of the year for the civil legal aid, indigent defense, and public interest law communities. The conference offers advocates the latest substantive information and professional skills they need to creatively and effectively meet the legal needs of low-income people, and provides unparalleled opportunities to meet and exchange ideas with colleagues from across the country while fulfilling continuing legal education requirements. This year's conference theme is: "Justice in America: Delivering on the Promise."

The Conference Sessions are organized into six tracks:

Civil - Putting People First: Strategic Alliances for Justice
A forum for legal aid leaders to share the "hows," "whys," and benefits of working in partnerships to more easily identify gaps in services, unaddressed needs and growing trends that affect our ability to provide services to our clients. Creative and atypical collaborations can attract greater and diversified funding as many of the traditional sources of funding for civil legal aid have been reduced and/or allocated differently. Legal aid programs MUST partner with other organizations for the ultimate goal of serving the client community more effectively.

Defender - Gideon and Beyond: Client- and Community-Driven Strategic Reform to Ensure the Future of Defense Excellence
Defenders have for decades toiled to protect the liberty of individuals from diverse communities and backgrounds, without ever having adequate funding or structure. Such inadequacies have perpetuated a lack of trust between individuals and defenders, despite the best intentions. The concerns of our client's, those whose expressed interests are to guide our representation, can be lost in the problems associated with service delivery. We must not shy away from these challenges, but work towards synergistic solutions that address both policy matters outside the courtroom, as well as gaining the trust and support of the communities we strive to serve. This year's Defender sessions will re-examine our role through this lens, and focus on outcomes that improve the delivery of representation - moving beyond the minimal requirements of representation to meaningful levels of excellence.

Joint - Changing the Narrative: Civil/Defender Partnerships to Advance the Rights of People, Families and Communities
There are many ways that NLADA's members - civil legal aid law firms, civil rights organizations, indigent defense offices, public policy advocates, pro bono programs and attorneys, Access to Justice Commissions, and individual attorneys fighting for justice for their clients - work to "change the narrative." They do so through the representation of their clients' interests, in court cases, before administrative agencies, in the media and beyond. They do so through advocacy to reform systemic barriers, injustices, mistakes and erroneous decision-making in order to protect whole groups of people who are or would be affected by these systemic problems. They do so by educating community members, elected officials, agency leaders and staff, and law enforcement and judicial officers. They do so by being tireless champions for people who are often rendered voiceless and invisible. The joint track is designed to provide discussion opportunities around how we can work in partnership to change the narrative of poverty.

Client - Leading From Your Strengths
Clients play a critical role in identifying, cultivating and maintaining community-based partnership and connecting legal services providers with the needs and dreams of low-income communities. This year's Client Track will focus on the leadership and resources, clients and community advocates bring to bear on the challenges and opportunities facing their communities.

Board Leadership - Expanding Your Impact
Members of the board of directors of public interest legal organizations bring many resources to the organization. One of those resources is relationships beyond legal services and law firms. This year's Board Track will focus on the Board role in expanding connections with foundations, governmental agencies, universities, researchers, community-based organizations and other potential partners for the purpose of advancing the legal services mission.

Fundraising - Philanthropy and Legal Aid: Natural Allies
An astonishing 80 percent of the legal needs of low-income people are unmet today because of insufficient funding and support. Some 60 million people are eligible for Legal Services Corporation funded legal aid programs and yet, only one million clients are served. As the number of those who are at or near the poverty level increases, funding per client has dropped by almost 60 percent in the past two decades.
Investing in help for low-income people to solve their legal problems is smart. Legal aid groups have been a powerful force for real change in millions of lives. When families need housing, food and health care, answers are provided by legal aid lawyers. Funders who understand this connection and see legal aid as a powerful tool are ready to support programs and see their contributions leverage dollars.

In addition, sessions about communications, risk management, technology, and evidence-based practices will be offered.