About Us

Who We Are

The Criminal Lawyers’ Association (CLA) is one of the largest specialty legal organizations in Canada, with more than 1,200 members. We are a voice for criminal justice and civil liberties in Canada. Our advice and perspective is sought by all levels of government and the judiciary on issues relating to legislation and the administration of criminal justice. We also assist our members in every aspect of the practice of criminal litigation. The Association is governed by an executive and board of directors elected by the membership. Our current President is Anthony Moustacalis.

CLA develops and hosts continuing education programs for criminal law practitioners and offers the most comprehensive annual criminal defence law conference in Canada. The three day convention and education program each fall includes leading counsel and lecturers from Canada and elsewhere. The highlight of each convention is the presentation of the G. Arthur Martin Criminal Justice Medal for an outstanding contribution to criminal justice. G. Arthur Martin was Canada’s greatest criminal advocate before he became a leading jurist with the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The CLA Newsletter, For The Defence, is Canada’s foremost newsletter on Criminal Law. It is published five times per year and contains material to keep readers informed and up-to-date with legal developments. The Newsletter is highly regarded by lawyers, judges and academics throughout Canada and in legal media. We encourage contributions from all sources for this publication.

The CLA has long been active in the debate about the importance of a strong, independent and well funded legal aid program. We know from experience that this is the key to equal access to justice for everyone charged with a criminal offence. We will continue to be at the front of this issue in the hope that access to justice will become a reality for those without the income or assets to fund their defence.

Our Legislation Committee is regularly asked to make submissions on behalf of our members to Legislative Committees at both the Commons and Senate level as well as Provincial Legislatures on all proposed Bills affecting criminal justice. Our Young Lawyers Committee presents free Education Programs for the benefit of our younger members. The Association is often called upon to seek intervenor status in cases before the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Criminal Lawyers’ Association is an affiliate of the U.S. National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers and works closely with The Canadian Counsel of Criminal Defence Lawyers (CCCDL), The County and District Law President’s Association (CDLPA) and other key stakeholders.