There are currently 3 levels of membership:
Full Membership is open to any enrolled and practising solicitor of the Supreme Court involved with, or interested in the practice of criminal law – prosecution or defence. Full membership is on an individual basis
Firm Membership the CLSA represents individual members but will offer a discount where multiple Solicitors join from the same firm. This is conditional on the Firm Membership form being completed with a lead Solicitor and a Direct Debit Mandate being completed. Firm membership gives attractive price discounts.
Associate Membership is open to any person, in the permanent employment of a firm of solicitors and engaged in or interested in the practice of criminal law. Applicants must be proposed and seconded by at least two full members of the Association. Associate members are entitled to attend all general meetings of the Association but are not entitled to vote. Associate membership is on an individual basis.
Benefits of membership
A huge amount of unseen work is done by Committee members. The more members the association has then the greater the influence it can have on policy and the future direction of the criminal justice system.
We would like every criminal law solicitor to be a member of the association and just some of the benefits are summarised below:
- Your representative body when times are tough – the so-called ‘two tier’ contracts were divisive and unpopular with the majority of the profession. The CLSA had concerns at the design and implementation of the contracts and challenged them in the High Court. Ultimately, they were abandoned. Those with longer memories may recall the CLSA being at the forefront of fighting and gaining better terms for the 2001 general criminal contract. It is at times like these that the CLSA, with its dedicated committee, comes to the fore in the fight on behalf of practitioners and where strength of membership is at its most important.
- Consultations – It seems no Government can resist extensive legislative change to the criminal justice system. Every significant change is pre-empted by a consultation document. Members may not find they have time to respond to every consultation but the CLSA does. An example was the recent response by the CLSA to the consultation on credit for guilty plea cases.
- Consultative body memberships – CLSA committee members take part in the Criminal Contract Consultation Group, the National Practitioners Digital Working Group Committee, and the Criminal Justice Council. We put forward the case for Criminal Defence Practitioners at every stage.
- Influencing the decision makers – we have good links with the MOJ and Chair and Vice Chairs have met with recent Lord Chancellors to put the case directly for Criminal Defence Solicitors. We meet regularly with senior MOJ officials. We do not claim the system is perfect, far from it, but do say that it would be worse without the influence that we have had.
- E Group – there is a vibrant CLSA email group that has for many years been a sounding board for members and a way of getting quick advice on legal or procedural points from a fellow criminal defence expert. It is rare that someone on the group has not come across an issue that you may be wrestling with.
- E Alerts – the CLSA will regularly send by E Alerts significant updates and issues affecting criminal practitioners.
- Conference – membership brings a discounted price for the conference which usually carries five CPD and is an entertaining and informative day.
- Member database – members of the public can search the member database to Find a Solicitor and fellow professionals can Find an Agent to find a criminal defence expert in their area. We collect data from our members so that anyone searching can quickly find the right lawyer in their area. If you are not in the database then you won’t be found.
The above are just some of the member benefits for a modest sum per year. Please join the CLSA now and urge colleagues to join.