One of only two lawyers in the U.S. recently selected and interviewed by an international non-profit organization featuring “Inspirational People” around the world, including Nobel prize winners, business leaders, professors, Olympic gold medalists, and other such accomplished individuals.
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 by Super Lawyers as one of the "Top 50 Women" in Pennsylvania
Honored by Super Lawyers as one of the "Top 100 Philadelphia"
Honored by Super Lawyers as one of the "Top 100" in Pennsylvania
"Lifetime Achievement Membership" among America's Top 100 Attorneys®
"Top 100 Trial Lawyers" by The National Trial Lawyers
"Best Attorneys Of America" Lifetime Charter Member by Rue Ratings
"10 Best" Attorneys in PA by American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys
"10 Best" Law Firms in PA by American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys
"Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney" by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDA)
"Global Awards Winner - PA Criminal Defense Attorney of the Year" by Corporate INTL
"Leading Lawyer Award Winner - PA Criminal Defense Attorney of the Year" by Lawyers World
"Lifetime Achievement Membership" among America's Top 100 Criminal Defense Attorneys®
Three Best Rated® as one of the Top 3 Criminal Defense Lawyers in Philadelphia
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.