A driving cornerstone of NiaLena's success is her passionate advocacy and her belief in traveling "the road less traveled by" made so famous by the poet, Robert Frost.
• Recently spotlighted by Super Lawyers in a feature article entitled "Fierce"
• Only criminal defense lawyer ever featured on Super Lawyers cover in Philadelphia Magazine
• Honored repeatedly by Super Lawyers as one of the "Top 50 Women" in Pennsylvania
Differing from most of her colleagues, NiaLena has tremendous compassion and focuses first on her clients as people. She utilizes a unique all-encompassing approach in an effort to help them during their representation because she realizes that clients who have been caught in the crosshairs of a criminal investigation are typically also dealing with a variety of other serious issues that transcend the confines of their specific legal case.
Differing again from most other criminal lawyers, NiaLena is a graduate from the renowned Wharton School and also has work experience in the international business world. Consequently, she is also able to identify with many of the challenges facing white collar crime defendants in a manner that her colleagues cannot.
Often setting her own course, NiaLena is known for always putting her clients' interests first: that reputation was initially earned when she was the youngest and only female attorney representing a high-ranking organized crime figure in the federal RICO trial of U.S. v. Joseph Merlino and yet did not hesitate to separate her client, Frank Gambino, and go against the old-boys network of other criminal lawyers representing mafia co-defendants. Her client who emerged from the trial victorious through his acquittals of attempted murder and racketeering charges and with an outcome better than the other defendants was the beneficiary of NiaLena's individual courage, relentlessness, and strategic creativity. NiaLena's closing argument on behalf of Frank Gambino was then chosen in a nationwide contest and featured by the Center for Criminal Justice Advocacy in Houston, and it is still being used to this day by professors around the country as a way to instruct students.
• "Top 100 Trial Lawyers" by The National Trial Lawyers
• "Best Attorneys Of America" Lifetime Charter Member by Rue Ratings
• "10 Best" Attorneys in PA and "10 Best" Law Firms in PA by American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys
• "Global Awards Winner - PA Criminal Defense Attorney of the Year" by Corporate INTL
NiaLena has also served not only as lead counsel in numerous serious multi-defendant federal and state criminal cases but also was the youngest and only female attorney representing Senator Vincent Fumo, long regarded as the most powerful politician in Pennsylvania, during his five-month high profile political corruption white collar federal trial.
NiaLena's federal criminal defense practice is primarily focused in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (including Philadelphia and the surrounding counties) but also includes the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the District of New Jersey, and multiple jurisdictions in the United States. The depth of her experience includes the defense of cases under investigation by various government agencies, such as:
• U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS);
• United States Secret Service;
• Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI);
• Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA);
• Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF);
• Office of Inspector General (OIG);
• U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE);
• Internal Revenue Service (IRS);
• United States Postal Inspection Service.
NiaLena's efforts to never leave a stone unturned have been publicly recognized by federal judges, the press, her colleagues, and her former clients. A frequent guest speaker at The Wharton School regarding the ethics of white collar crime, NiaLena credits much of her success to her beloved mentor and former law partner, F. Emmett Fitzpatrick.
(1) US Supreme Court
(2) 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
(3) US District Court for the Eastern District of PA
(4) Pennsylvania Bar
(5) Massachusetts Bar
Boston University School of Law (Juris Doctor, May 1993) -- Honors: (1) Commencement Award (BNA Law Student Award); (2) American Jurisprudence Award (Criminal Trial Practice); (3) Edward F. Hennessey Scholar; (4) Commencement Speaker to the Faculty
The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (Bachelor of Science degree in Economics; May 1988; graduated cum laude; dual major in Multinational Management and Marketing)
Professional Associations & Memberships
(1) Federal Criminal Bar for the Eastern District of PA
(2) Association of Federal Defense Attorneys (AFDA)
(3) Philadelphia Criminal Justice Section
(4) Pennsylvania Bar Association
(5) Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PACDL)
(6) National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
(7) The National Trial Lawyers (membership by invitation only)
(8) The National Trial Lawyers, Criminal Trial Lawyers' Association (membership by invitation only)
(9) The College of Physicians of Philadelphia; Section on Medicine, Ethics & the Law (membership by invitation only)
(10) American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (membership by invitation only)
Honors and Awards
Only Criminal Defense Lawyer Ever Featured on the "Super Lawyers" Cover in Philadelphia Magazine
Featured on Cover of 2013 "Super Lawyers" Supplement, "Philadelphia Magazine"
Spotlighted in Feature Article Entitled "Fierce" (PA Super Lawyers, 2013)
Lifetime Achievement Membership among America’s Top 100 Attorneys®
Honored among "Top 50 Women Super Lawyers" in Pennsylvania in 2015 and 2016
Recognized by Peers as “Pennsylvania Super Lawyer” in Criminal Defense; Philadelphia Magazine; Law & Politics Magazine; 2008-2009, 2011-2016
Selected in 2016 to become a "Fellow" of the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA)
Named by Three Best Rated® as one of the Top 3 Criminal Defense Lawyers in Philadelphia in 2016
Honored as 2016 Global Awards Winner -- "PA Criminal Defense Attorney of the Year" by Corporate INTL Magazine
Only law firm in Pennsylvania to win the Corporate INTL Magazine 2016 Legal Award in "Criminal Defense"
Selected by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (AIOCLA) as one of the "10 Best" Attorneys in Pennsylvania in 2014-2016 for Client Satisfaction in the practice area of Criminal Law
Named as a "Top 10" Criminal Defense Attorney in Pennsylvania for 2015 by The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys
Honored in 2015 and 2016 in the top 1% by her inclusion among America's Most Honored Professionals, a distinction which is a cross-industry and cross-profession honor based on quantitative analysis of authenticated public recognitions and is awarded only to successful individuals who have been publicly recognized for professional excellence with multiple honors from trade groups, peers, clients, and the press
Selected by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (AIOCLA) as one of the "10 Best" Law Firms in Pennsylvania in 2015 for Client Satisfaction in the practice area of Criminal Law
Selected by Rue Ratings as one of the “Best Attorneys Of America” and invited to become a Lifetime Charter Member starting in 2014 and continuing in 2015 and 2016 (this distinction is extended to the 100 “Best Attorneys” in Pennsylvania and to less than one percent (1%) of the most qualified and accomplished attorneys in the United States)
Only law firm in Pennsylvania to win the Corporate INTL 2015 Legal Award in "Criminal Defense"
Honored in 2014 and 2013 as a "Top Rated Lawyer in Federal and White Collar - Criminal Defense” by American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell
Honored by Avvo with the "Clients' Choice" Award for "Federal Crime"
Honored by Avvo with the "Clients' Choice" Award for "White Collar Crime"
Superb rating (10.0 out of 10) by Avvo.com in 2009-2016
Honored among "Top 100 Trial Lawyers" in 2012-2016 (membership obtained by special invitation from The National Trial Lawyers and extended only to those "Top 100" in every state who exemplify superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature & profile as trial lawyers)
Honored by the American Society of Legal Advocates as one of the "Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyers" in Pennsylvania for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, where membership is extended to only the top 2% of lawyers "who combine stellar legal credentials with proven commitment to community engagement, leadership, and the highest professional standards"
"Client Distinction Award" by Martindale-Hubbell®; 2013-2016
AV® Preeminent™ 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review Rated; Martindale-Hubbell; 2003-2016
Spotlighted among the “Top Rated Lawyers in Criminal Defense: White Collar” in the October 2012 issues of both Corporate Counsel and The American Lawyer which have nationwide distribution, including Capitol Hill and Member’s Offices at the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives
Honored as 2011 and 2012 Global Awards Winner -- "PA Criminal Defense & White Collar Crime Attorney of the Year" by Corporate INTL Magazine
Selected as the only “Criminal Defense Attorney of the Year - Pennsylvania” recipient of both the Lawyers World Leading Lawyer Award as well as the Lawyers World Law Award; 2012
Selected as "Top Northeast Lawyer" by Avvo
Recognized as a Preeminent Lawyer in America by Martindale-Hubbell®
Only law firm in Pennsylvania to win the Corporate INTL Magazine 2010 Legal Award in "Criminal Law" and "White Collar Crime"
Recognized among the most elite women in the legal industry through her inclusion in the Martindale-Hubbell® Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers™
Profiled among "Influential Philadelphia Area Lawyers"; SuperLawyers, Philadelphia Magazine; 2009
Recognized by Peers as "Pennsylvania Rising Star Super Lawyer" in Criminal Defense; Philadelphia Magazine; Law & Politics Magazine; 2005-2006
Spoltlight: Closing Argument in U.S. v. Merlino; Center For Criminal Justice Advocacy; 2003
Who's Who In American Law