We are public defenders.

Our Board of Directors

Jay Cohen, Esq.
Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP
As a partner, co-chair of the Litigation Department, and a member of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP’s Management Committee, Mr. Cohen is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and corporate counselor, particularly with regard to his comprehensive expertise in media, antitrust, securities, intellectual property and general complex commercial disputes. Mr. Cohen is one of a select group of nationally recognized trial lawyers in Legal 500, and he is also recognized in Benchmark/Institutional Investor, Chambers USA, and Legal 500 as one of the leading media and entertainment lawyers in the United States, and in The Best Lawyers in America as a leading lawyer in commercial litigation, antitrust, media law and intellectual property.
Estela-Diaz-135x167Estela Díaz, Esq.
Director, Corporate Counsel, Starbucks
As a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, Ms. Díaz focuses on commercial litigation and labor and employment matters. Ms. Díaz has represented companies and individuals in a variety of criminal and regulatory investigations involving state and federal governmental authorities. In addition, Ms. Díaz has experience conducting internal investigations involving allegations of misconduct against senior executives of public companies. In the employment context, she has litigated employment discrimination suits and putative class actions involving wage and hour claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state law. Ms. Díaz is currently a member of the New York office’s diversity committee. She is also a member of the Minorities in the Courts Committee of the New York City Bar Association and the Hispanic National Bar Association.
Ben_DukeP. Benjamin Duke, Esq.   Board Treasurer 
Partner, Covington & Burling LLP
As a litigation partner and a member of the Insurance Practice Group at Covington & Burling, LLP, Mr. Duke represents policyholders in a broad range of complex litigation, arbitration and advisory matters involving all types of insurance – from general liability to D&O, professional liability, and other specialized coverages. Mr. Duke has broad experience litigating both in state and federal courts and in numerous arbitration forums. He has advised and helped obtain significant insurance recoveries on behalf of clients in many industries, including the financial services, technology, energy and pharmaceutical industries. In addition to his insurance recovery experience, Mr. Duke has extensive trial experience representing financial institutions in the defense of securities-related claims and other financial disputes.
Earl WardEarl Ward, Esq.
Board Chair
Partner, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, LLC
A partner at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, LLC, Mr. Ward is one of New York’s preeminent and most successful trial lawyers, with 26 years of experience as a criminal defense and civil rights attorney. Before joining Emery Celli Brinckerhoff and Abady, Mr. Ward had his own firm where he handled serious felony matters. Mr. Ward’s clients have spanned a broad spectrum, from indigent criminal defendants to high profile figures and corporate executives. Mr. Ward has lectured extensively on trial practice, including as guest lecturer at New York University School of Law, Cardozo Law School, and the United States District Court for the Southern District, Pro Se Trial Advocacy Program. In addition to his position on the Board of The Bronx Defender, Mr. Ward is also Chair of the Board of Housing Works, an organization committed to helping homeless men and women with HIV/AIDS, and Chair of the Board of Esperanza, an alternative to incarceration program for at risk adolescents.
Nicole Smith Futrell
Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Defenders Clinic at CUNY School of Law
Nicole Smith Futrell is an Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Defenders Clinic at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, where she and her students represent clients in a variety of defense-related cases such as, state court misdemeanor matters, clemency and parole petitions, school suspension hearings, and conviction sealing applications. Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Smith Futrell was a staff attorney in the Criminal Defense Practice of the Bronx Defenders, where she litigated misdemeanor and felony cases and conducted criminal law trainings for new attorneys and local community groups. She has also worked as an advisor in the Center for Public Interest Law at Columbia University Law School. Professor Smith Futrell’s scholarship, which has been featured in both academic and popular publications, analyzes the relationship between social justice movements and the reform of criminal law and policy. She chairs the Law School Engagement Committee of the Black Public Defenders Association and serves on the Corrections Committee of the New York City Bar Association. Professor Smith Futrell holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University.

Omar Khan
Partner, WilmerHale LLP
As a litigation partner and a member of the Appellate and Intellectual Property Litigation groups at WilmerHale, LLP, Mr. Khan represents clients in a broad range of complex and high-stakes intellectual property matters at the trial and appellate levels. He has successfully litigated some of the largest and most important intellectual property matters for today’s leaders in the biotechnology, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, computer hardware and software, telecommunications and financial services industries. His courtroom experience includes jury and bench trials in federal district courts, PTAB proceedings, ITC proceedings, and domestic and international arbitrations. Mr. Khan also has an extensive pro bono practice for which he has received numerous awards and recognitions, including from the Federal Circuit Bar Association, MFY Legal Services and the New York State Bar Association.
Leke Osinubi
Managing Director, Goldman Sachs
Mr. Osinubi is chief risk officer for the Core Engineering business unit at Goldman Sachs, where he is responsible for technology risk governance and measurement. He also serves as co-chair of the Black Engineers Network. Previously, Mr. Osinubi managed the Technology Risk Measurement Operations team, responsible for risk and control services, internal and external audit management, and establishing analytics for anomaly detection and risk thematics. He joined Goldman Sachs as a vice president in 2012 and was named managing director in 2017. Prior to joining the firm, Leke worked as a senior manager in the Securities Technologies Practices Group at Accenture. Leke earned a B.S. in Computer Engineering and Information Systems Technology from Syracuse University in 2001.
Michele Roberts
Michele Roberts, Esq.
Former Executive Director, National Basketball Players Association
Michele Roberts is the former executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. She was the first woman to hold that position and the first woman to head a major professional sports union in the United States. Prior to joining the National Basketball Players Association, Ms. Roberts was a litigation partner with the firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. She successfully litigated 100 cases to jury verdicts in fields as diverse as product liability, racketeering, securities, and job discrimination. Ms. Roberts was previously an attorney at Washington, D.C.-based firms Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Shea & Gardner, where her work primarily focused on white-collar litigation. Prior to entering private practice, Ms. Roberts was a criminal defense attorney and the Chief of the Trial Division at the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C.Ms. Roberts was born and raised in the South Bronx. She received her B.A. from Wesleyan University and her J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley.
Abbe SmithAbbe Smith, Esq.
Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
Professor Smith is Director of the Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic, Co-Director of the E. Barrett Prettyman Fellowship Program, and Professor of Law at Georgetown University, where she has been on the faculty since 1996. Professor Smith teaches and writes on criminal defense, legal ethics, juvenile justice, and clinical legal education. In addition to numerous law journal articles, she has authored and co-authored several publications, including Case of a Lifetime: A Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Story, Understanding Lawyers’ Ethics, and Beyond the Rodney King Story: An Investigation of Police Conduct In Minority Communities. Professor Smith is actively engaged in indigent defense—as both a clinical supervisor and member of the Criminal Justice Act panel for the DC Superior Court—and frequently presents at public defender and legal aid training programs in the US and abroad.
Kyle Harris
Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Kyle A. Harris is a partner and member of the mergers and acquisitions group at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. He represents public and private companies and investors in domestic and cross-border mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, and other complex corporate transactions. He also regularly advises companies and their boards on fiduciary duties, corporate governance matters, and shareholder activism and takeover defense. He has been recognized in The Legal 500 in the M&A: Large Deals ($1bn+) category and named a “Rising Star” in M&A by Law360, The Deal, and Expert Guides. Kyle is also active in the firm’s pro bono practice and educational pipeline initiatives. He is a member of the New York State Attorney General’s Pro Bono Task Force for Reproductive Health and oversees Cleary’s partnership with the Washington Irving Campus of high schools.
 Michael Bloch
Partner, Bloch & White LLP
Michael Bloch is an accomplished trial attorney who recently launched his own practice, Bloch & White LLP, which specializes in criminal defense, civil rights and commercial litigation. Michael was one of the lead attorneys in Sines v. Kessler, the federal civil rights lawsuit brought against the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who conspired to commit racially motivated violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. The four-week jury trial resulted in a substantial judgment for Michael’s clients. Prior to launching Bloch & White LLP, Michael spent over seven years at the Bronx Defenders, where he was a supervisor in the Criminal Defense Practice, a member of the Homicide Practice Group, and served as a supervisor of the Investigations Practice. Michael also worked for three years as Counsel at Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, as well as three years at Williams & Connolly LLP. Michael is a member of the faculty of Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop and the National Criminal Defense College. Michael graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he represented clients charged with crimes in Roxbury District Court as part of the Criminal Justice Institute. Before law school, he worked as a criminal defense investigator with the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C. Michael has been a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Operations Committee and Mass Incarceration Task Force. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, New York Daily News, Bloomberg Law, Law360, National Law Journal, The Champion and The Forward.

Grace O’Donnell
Akin Gump Strauss Haure & Feld LLP.
Grace O’Donnell is counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. She advises clients on a wide array of labor and employment matters, including employment-related disputes, internal investigations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. She also has experience conducting Title IX investigations.  Grace received her B.A. from the College of William and Mary and her J.D. from the University of Virginia. She is an active member of the Labor & Employment Law Section of the American Bar Association.