President's Message

As ACDLA heads into its fourth decade, I am honored and humbled to be its president. Having practiced law for nearly thirty-eight years, I remember the days before ACDLA and before I joined in 1985. In South Alabama there were very few criminal defense lawyers when I began my practice. The indigent defense system consisted of judges appointing mostly young lawyers to handle the workload at the rate of $10 an hour out of court and $20 an hour in court, with almost all cases having a $500 cap. While there were few volunteers for this work, it did keep some of us out of the poorhouse. There were few seminars to learn from and no listserv to get advice from.

Contrast that with what is available to lawyers through ACDLA today. Thanks, in no small measure, to the tireless work of those officers, board members and the countless others who have given so much of themselves, criminal defense in Alabama has made quantum leaps in the last thirty years. ACDLA has multiple seminar opportunities for its members, its publication, The Guardian, provides spot-on topics and how-to articles covering the gamut the criminal defense lawyer may encounter, the listserv is an invaluable tool providing nearly instantaneous access to some of the finest legal minds in the country, and the hourly rate and caps have increased dramatically. So, as they say, “We’ve come a long way baby!”

But, there are more miles to cover. Hopefully, with the help of ACDLA, the idea of a criminal defense college will come to fruition in the very near future, providing young lawyers with practical experience and valuable knowledge that will help them prepare for the heavy responsibilities incumbent with representing those whose lives and liberties are at stake. Our Death Penalty Seminar, which is widely regarded as one of the best in the nation, will continue to help save the lives of those who would otherwise be condemned. Other ACDLA seminars will continue to provide our members with up to date information on topics affecting criminal defense, brought to you by some of the most renown criminal defense lawyers in the nation.

We at ACDLA have much to be thankful for and we owe it all to a small group of lawyers, who some thirty years ago had the guts and the foresight to step out and begin an organization the likes of which had not been seen in this state. For more than three decades, these lawyers and those who followed have unselfishly given of themselves and their talents to continue the mission of sharing knowledge, experience and inspiration with all the members of ACDLA. To all of them we owe a great debt of gratitude.

In closing, I recently saw a Facebook post from a young lady about to enter law school, wherein she said: “Since graduation, many people have asked what my plans are, to which I’ve replied, I am headed to law school. Then, the response that I’ve come to expect follows, Just what we need: another lawyer. I resent this flippant reply. I am not going to be just “another lawyer”. I am going to make a difference.” That is the question facing each of us, am I going to be just another lawyer or am I going to make a difference? The answer to that lies in our individual commitment to this profession and our dedication to those we serve. ACDLA and its membership stand ready to help you answer that question.

Paul Young, ACDLA President

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Board Meeting

April 07, 2017
10:00 AM to 4:30 PM
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State Bar Building


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