Legal Aid Society

Defending the Accused & Incarcerated

As New York City’s primary public defender, we believe advocacy must not only take place in the courtroom, but also in the communities where our clients live and work. Our holistic practice provides zealous, experienced representation to our clients. Every day our defenders are engaging clients, community members, and advocacy groups, helping to amplify the voices of people affected by a broken criminal legal system, especially those who are incarcerated in jail, prison or detention centers.

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Every day, in courthouses and communities across the city our Criminal Defense team advocates for the rights of all New Yorkers. Learn more about the services we provide.

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Making a Difference

Projects, Units & Initiatives

Our specialized teams have experience working on nearly every area of law that impacts New Yorkers. Explore the ways we fight on behalf of clients and communities.

A Day in the Life

Investigating All Sides of the Case in the Criminal Defense Practice

Daequan Shane spends his days fighting for people’s freedom. As an investigator with The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice, Daequan’s work ensures that Legal Aid attorneys have the tools and critical context they need to give clients the best defense possible.

Daequan Shane 

Our Impact

Comprehensive Parole Reform Through Less is More

The Legal Aid Society successfully lobbied Governor Kathy Hochul to sign the Less Is More Act, legislation that comprehensively reforms the State’s parole system.

The Less Is More Act – which garnered wide-ranging support from public defenders, prosecutors, criminal justice reform advocates, and impacted communities – reforms New York State’s parole revocation system by eliminating incarceration for most minor non-criminal violations, requiring prompt judicial review of parole violation charges, placing caps on revocation sanctions, and providing a path to earned discharge from supervision.

The new law allows New York to turn the page on a draconian parole revocation system that helped perpetuate mass incarceration for decades.

By the Numbers

As the primary public defender in New York City, our impact goes beyond any single case or client. We’re committed to addressing systemic inequities in the criminal legal system so no one is denied their right to freedom and the presumption of innocence.


Total client matters handled by the Criminal Defense Practice.


Legal services provided by the Community Justice Unit, including rap sheet clinics, safe surrenders, and Know Your Rights events.


Appeals and post-conviction applications filed by our Criminal Appeals Bureau.

A contribution to The Legal Aid Society is about more than money.

Every donation helps us offer essential legal services to thousands of everyday New Yorkers, helping people buy food, pay rent, and care for themselves and their families.

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