• Only criminal defense lawyer ever featured on Super Lawyers cover in Philadelphia Magazine • Recently spotlighted by Super Lawyers in a feature article entitled "Fierce"
• Honored by Super Lawyers as one of the "Top 50 Women" in Pennsylvania
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.
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.
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. In this regard, NiaLena invites all readers to visit her website for a more comprehensive discussion on her career.
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. NiaLena also very much appreciates the wonderful reviews posted by her clients and also by fellow lawyers on Avvo, SuperLawyers, and Google.
Areas of Practice:
Federal Criminal Defense;
White Collar Crime;
Honors, Awards and Achievements:
• Featured on "Super Lawyers" Cover in "Philadelphia Magazine"
• Spotlighted in Super Lawyers Feature Article entitled "Fierce"
• "Lifetime Achievement Membership" among America's Top 100 Attorneys®
• Following the conclusion of U.S. v. Merlino, NiaLena's closing argument on behalf of alleged high-ranking organized crime figure, Frank Gambino, was then chosen in a nationwide contest and featured by the Center for Criminal Justice Advocacy in Houston. It is still being used to this day by professors around the country as a way to instruct students.
• "Pennsylvania Super Lawyer”
• Selected in 2016 to become a "Fellow" of the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA)
• Rue Ratings “Best Attorneys Of America” Lifetime Charter Member
• First female criminal defense attorney in Pennsylvania invited to join the "Top 100 Trial Lawyers"
• "10 Best" Attorneys and "10 Best" Law Firms in Pennsylvania for Client Satisfaction in Criminal Law by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (AIOCLA)
• "Top Federal Crime Lawyer" and "Top White Collar Crime Lawyer" with a "Superb" rating (10.0 out of 10) by Avvo
• “Top 10” Criminal Defense Attorneys in PA by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys
• America's Most Honored Professionals
• "Clients' Choice" Award for "Federal Crime" by Avvo
• "Clients' Choice" Award for "White Collar Crime" by Avvo
• "Top Northeast Lawyer" in America for Criminal Defense by Avvo
• "Criminal Defense Law Firm of the Year in Pennsylvania" and "Pennsylvania Law Firm Of The Year in Criminal Law and White Collar Crime" by Corporate INTL
• M&A International Global Award in both Criminal Law and White Collar Crime
• Highest professional rating (AV® Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review Rated) by Martindale-Hubbell
• "Top Rated Lawyer in White Collar - Criminal Defense” by American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell
• "Client Distinction Award" by Martindale-Hubbell
• Martindale-Hubbell "Top-Rated Legal Leaders"
• Martindale-Hubbell® Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers
• Martindale-Hubbell® Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers in "Criminal Trial Practice"
• "Global Awards Winner" & Only "Pennsylvania Criminal Defense & White Collar Crime Attorney of the Year" by Corporate INTL Magazine
• “Criminal Defense Attorney of the Year - Pennsylvania” by Lawyers World Leading Lawyer Award as well as the Lawyers World Law Award
• “Top Rated Lawyers in Criminal Defense: White Collar” by The American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel
• Main Line Today "Top Lawyers" edition
• NiaLena's closing argument on behalf of her client, Frank Gambino, in the federal mob racketeering trial of United States v. Joseph Merlino was subsequently selected among nationwide submissions and spotlighted as the featured defense advocate by Center for Criminal Justice Advocacy in Houston and is also being used to this day as a teaching tool by professors nationwide
• Law School Honors -- (a) Commencement Award (BNA Law Student Award); (b) American Jurisprudence Award (Criminal Trial Practice); (c) Edward F. Hennessey Scholar; Commencement Speaker to the Faculty
• Graduated with honors (cum laude) from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Bar and Professional Activities:
• Member (by invitation only), American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys
• Member (by invitation only), The National Trial Lawyers
• Member (by invitation only), The National Trial Lawyers, Criminal Trial Lawyers' Association
• Member (by invitation only), The College of Physicians of Philadelphia; Section on Medicine, Ethics & the Law
• Member, Association of Federal Defense Attorneys (AFDA)
• Member, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
• Member, Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PACDL)
• Member, Pennsylvania Bar Association
• Member, Criminal Justice Section, Philadelphia Bar Association
• Member, Federal Criminal Bar for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
• Licensed in Pennsylvania
• Licensed in Massachusetts
• Admitted to U.S. District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania
• Admitted to U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit
• Admitted to U.S. Supreme Court
Lectures and Writings:
• Co- Author contributor to Dr. Robert Sadoff's most recent book, The Evolution of Forensic Psychiatry: History, Current Developments, Future Directions, which was published in 2015 by Oxford University Press.
• Frequently called upon by The Legal Intelligencer, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and other news organizations to offer unique commentary on current legal issues.
•Guest lecturer on the growing intersection between forensic psychiatry and federal criminal defense at the Department of Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Fellowship Program of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
• Co-author of the book, Inside the Minds: Jury Selection in Criminal Cases, 2013 ed. published by Aspatore Books, a Thomson Reuters business, in which NiaLena focuses her writing on "The Artistic Science of Jury Selection and Trials."
• Guest speaker at the University of Pennsylvania in an effort to educate university students and members of the National Youth Rights Association regarding their civil rights and the best ways to exercise those rights.
• Frequent guest speaker on white collar crime as well as ethics in Leadership programs of the Management Department at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
• Co-author with her former law partner, F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, an article entitled "Ineffective Assistance of Counsel", which was published in The Philadelphia Lawyer, The Forum, and The Richmond Journal of Law and the Public Interest.
• Lecturer in CLE seminars at PBI Criminal Law Symposium.