In the old days, defense attorneys generally received their wisdom either by trial and fire or by working as an “apprentice” to an experienced attorney. Hallway educations for practicing attorneys was the norm. Unfortunately, as caseloads have increased and courts have become far more like factories than halls of justice, defense attorneys are finding themselves more and more isolated from the world around them.
These days are long gone when a few hours in the afternoon could be spent comparing case thoughts at a cafe or bar. Now, every hour matters to keep up with the paper chase. Unfortunately, defense attorneys still need a forum in which to sound out their thoughts and get good advice before making a mistake on a case. And there are a number of digital resources available for general law discussion specific to criminal defense.
Topix, a discussion forum website has a board specific to defense attorneys named aptly, the Criminal Defense Law Forum. While the site is bogged down with advertisement videos, it does provide an easy to search listing of topics associated with criminal defense and discussion on those points.
A handful of state specific forums exist for defense attorneys, usually affilitated with a legal association membership. If an attorney practices in Iowa on indigent defense cases, he or she can take advantage of the Indigent Defense Discussion Forum provided by the Office of the State Public Defender. The website allows contract attorneys access in which to share discuss, and research how to go about representation on related cases with the support of the State Public Defender’s Office.
Criminal defense lawyers in South Dakota have a similar resource with the South Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers website, a membership login forum specific for members of the SDACDL to discuss case matters. Another example is the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and their similar login website as well. Just about every region has a similar organization, so it’s worth checking out the local state group for their version or leads to similar resources.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers also provides its own website forum for legal defense discussions under NACDLConnect. The site includes a specific membership login and all the basic forum tools such as posting updates, daily or weekly digest emails of postings, and NACDL membership updates as well.
Of course, every attorney worth his or her salt should also remember these sources above are all public forums. Just because there is a login screen doesn’t mean that all the participants are in fact defense attorneys. So if critical confidential advice is needed, the old-fashioned phone conversation direct with a mentor or expert is just as good as ever.