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 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.
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)
After interning in the District Attorney's Offices of both Philadelphia and Cambridge (Massachusetts), NiaLena served as Law Clerk to the Honorable Lisa Aversa Richette, a very prominent jurist, civic giant, and independent thinker, of the Homicide Program of the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. In 1997, NiaLena joined the firm of the former District Attorney of Philadelphia, F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, often acclaimed as a 'master orator' as well as the 'dean of criminal defense lawyers,' where he taught her much about the practice of federal criminal defense as her beloved mentor and law partner during many wonderful years together. Following Mr. Fitzpatrick's retirement from the practice of law, NiaLena established her own law firm at the end of 2008, where she continues to enjoy the practice of federal criminal defense.