We are the voice for those who suffer in silence, face oppression, and struggle to access justice because of poverty. Since 1876, we have proudly advocated for our clients, changing the laws one case at a time, one reform at a time. We are fiercely committed to advancing equal justice for all New Yorkers, every single day in every single way.
We Demand Equal Justice
Working tirelessly in the courtroom and in the community
to ensure all New Yorkers receive fair treatment.
We Stand With The Powerless
Serving those who are served least
by ensuring their voice is heard.
We Put Our Clients First
Communicating with the people we serve
to give them the options they need to thrive.
We Never Give Up
Tenaciously working with our clients and colleagues
to overcome the systematic barriers our clients face.
We Hold Ourselves To The Highest Standard
Embodying our mission and ensuring that every client
receives the exceptional legal services they deserve.
Seymour W. James, Jr.
Mr. James has devoted his entire legal career to ensuring that the poor in New York City receive high quality representation. He joined The Legal Aid Society in 1974 as a staff attorney in the Brooklyn Office and has served in various supervisory capacities including Supervising Attorney in the Bronx County Office, Deputy Attorney-in-Charge of the Kings County and Queens County Offices, Attorney-in-Charge of the Queens County Office, and Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Practice.
Mr. James is a Past President of the New York State Bar Association and he currently serves on the Executive Committee of the State Bar’s Criminal Justice Section and on the State Bar’s Committee on Leadership Development. He serves as a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates and previously served on the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants and the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. He is also a former President of the Queens County Bar Association and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association.
Mr. James’s dedication to public service extends beyond his employment and his bar association activities. He serves on the New York State Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration and is a member of the New York State Justice Task Force, which studies instances where defendants were wrongfully convicted of crimes and recommends measures to avoid such mistakes in the future. He also serves on the New York State Permanent Sentencing Commission and the Committee on Character and Fitness for the Second Judicial Department. He previously served on the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department, the Task Force on the Future of Probation in New York State, and the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission for the 11th Judicial District.
Mr. James is also active in other public interest organizations. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Correctional Association of New York and the Board of Directors of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. He is the former chair of the Queens Volunteer Lawyers Project and a former member of the board of directors of the Osborne Association, Bedford Stuyvesant Community Legal Services Corporation and Queens Legal Services Corporation.
Mr. James has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at CUNY Law School and on the faculty of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Intensive Trial Advocacy Program.
Mr. James was the recipient of the New York Law Journal Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. In 2013, he received the Feerick Center for Social Justice Life of Commitment Award; the Metropolitan Black Bar Association’s Public Servant of the Year Award; and Albany Law School’s Deans Medal for exemplary service to the legal profession. Mr. James was also the 2012 recipient of the American Bar Association’s Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division Dorsey Award in recognition of extraordinary commitment to providing legal services to those in need; the 2009 recipient of The Judicial Friends Jane M. Bolin Award in recognition of outstanding service to the community through law and the delivery of legal services; the 2007 recipient of the New York State Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section’s Michele S. Maxian Award for Outstanding Public Defense Practitioner; and the 2001 recipient of the Queens Legal Services Corporation Community Service Recognition Award.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, New York, Mr. James graduated from Stuyvesant High School, obtained an undergraduate degree in economics from Brown University, and earned his law degree from Boston University School of Law. He is married to the Honorable Cheryl E. Chambers, an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department. They reside in Brooklyn.
Adriene serves as Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Practice of The Legal Aid Society and has devoted her entire professional career to challenging poverty and racial injustice for the advancement of equal rights. Adriene is responsible for managing the provision of comprehensive civil legal services through a network of neighborhood offices, courthouse based offices, and specialized city-wide units serving all five boroughs of New York City with more than 500 staff working on nearly 49,000 cases each year. Prior to her appointment to Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Practice, Adriene served as Attorney-in-Charge of the Harlem Office; practiced law as a staff attorney in the Law Reform Unit of the Civil Practice; and began her career as a staff attorney in the Harlem Office Housing Law Unit.
In addition to her formal duties, Adriene also serves as a member of the New York State Permanent Commission on Access to Justice, and is an executive board member for Housing Court Answers, and previously served as a Tenant Representative on the New York City Rent Guidelines Board for 10 years. Adriene has also served as an adjunct professor at The New School and as a volunteer instructor at Columbia Law School.
Often called upon to work on the Society’s legislative agenda, Adriene frequently testifies before legislative bodies on the city and state levels. She also is consulted on various legal and policy matters impacting low-income communities by the media, law schools, and policy or governmental agencies.
She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the Thurgood Marshall Award - recognition of service as pro bono counsel to an individual under a sentence of death; The Legal Aid Society Pro Bono Award for work on the Alabama Pro Bono Death Penalty Project; New York Moves Magazine – Power Woman; Earl Warren Legal Scholar and a Reginald L. Lewis Fellow by her law school and a Melvin C. Steen Fellow by The Legal Aid Society when she started her employment. Adriene received her B.S. in Political Science from Spelman College, and received her J.D. from Columbia Law School.
Criminal Defense Practice
Tina has served as the Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice since 2014 where she is responsible for the daily operation of all of the practice’s trial, appellate, post-conviction, law reform and parole defense work conducted on behalf of over 200,000 clients. She leads a citywide team of 12 senior managers who, in turn, manage the practice’s over 1100 staff. Prior to her appointment as the organization’s chief defender, she served as the Deputy Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice. She began her Legal Aid career in September 2002 as a staff attorney in the New York County trial office of the Criminal Defense Practice and was promoted to Supervising Attorney in the same office in 2007 where she continued to directly represent clients, as well as train and manage her team of attorneys, paralegals and investigators.
Prior to joining the Society, Tina served as Vice President of Operations for the National Council for Unity, a nonprofit organization implementing gang intervention/prevention programs in New York City schools and Boys and Girls Clubs of America. There, she spent over a decade in charge of the organization’s financial, development, communication and human resource staff. In that role, she negotiated and managed the organization’s city, state and private funding and was the organization’s liaison with the Department of Education, Department of Youth and Community Development, United Federation of Teachers and Council of Supervisors and Administrators,
In her current role, Tina happily dedicates much of her time working on ways to create best practices within the Society. She plays an active role in the development of the Criminal Defense Practice’s training programs, networks across the country with other criminal justice leaders on ways to improve the overall public defender profession and plays a key role in many of this City’s criminal justice reform initiative. She is the President-Elect of the Chief Defender Association of New York, former Chair of the American Bar Associations’ Task Force of Comprehensive Representation, Steering Committee Member of the National Association for Public Defense, member of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Council and member of the New York State Bar Association Committee of Quality Mandated Representation.
Juvenile Defense Practice
Dawne’s wealth of experience includes a stint as a staff attorney with the New York Legal Assistance Group for 3 years, prior to joining JRP as a staff attorney in 1996. She became a supervising attorney in 2001, and the Deputy AIC of the Bronx JRP office in 2006. In 2011, she was promoted to the Attorney-in-Charge of the Bronx JRP office.
Dawne has been an integral part of the JRP staff and management team for over 20 years and has a comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of the Juvenile Practice. Dawne has utilized her expertise, critical thinking and passion for the work as an advocate for JRP and our clients with stakeholders, judges and other parent and children providers in forums across the city. These attributes, in addition to her commitment to justice for our clients, will serve her well as she assumes this new position and continues the tradition of excellence in JRP leadership.
Chief Operating Officer
Tamara A. Steckler is the Chief Administrative Officer for The Legal Aid Society. Tamara, known as Tami to all, has been the Attorney-In-Charge of the Juvenile Rights Practice ofThe Society in New York City (JRP) since 2005, supervising a staff of 350 attorneys, social workers and paralegals who represent over 34,000 children and young adults each year in child welfare, delinquency, PINS, appellate and impact litigation proceedings in all five boroughs.
Directly after law school, Tami worked as a staff attorney for JRP in the Bronx trial office, then became the Legal Director for Talbot Perkins Foster Care Agency and then continued her work with JRP in the Brooklyn trial office. In 1994, Tamara left JRP to become the founder and Director of the Family Law Unit at New York Legal Assistance Group. Soon thereafter she became the Assistant Executive Director and Development Director, overseeing their Human Resources, IT, Finance, Development and Facilities Departments. While at NYLAG Tami worked with the E.D. to grow NYLAG from 40 staff members to over 200 lawyers and supportive staff and managed several office moves as the organization grew.
Tami returned to JRP as the Attorney-In-Charge (AIC) in 2005. During her tenure she has increased JRP’s attorney staff to meet new caseload standards, spearheaded and led the relocation and renovation of all 11 of JRP’s locations, and has worked closely with her senior managers to systemize and improve JRP’s administrative practices to ensure staff satisfaction and the seamless provision of client services. She has been an instrumental member of LAS’ Senior Management Team working collaboratively to develop and implement LAS policies and procedures. She managed the Recruitment Department for one year, administered the Society-wide Anti-Bias Training, and lead the development and implementation of LAS’ Supervisory Training.
As JRP’s AIC, she has been active in numerous state and city working groups and task forces addressing issues of child welfare and juvenile justice, including the Governor’s Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice, the New York State Task for on the Future of Probation, the New YorkCity Juvenile Justice Advisory Council on the implementation of “Close to Home,” New York Statewide Committee and New York City Working Group to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in JD and Child Welfare Matters, New York State Bar Task Force on Family Court, New York Statewide Child Welfare Interdisciplinary Collaboration Group, the New York State Juvenile Use of Orders of Protection Project Advisory Board, as well as the New York City Executive Committee for Child Welfare Practice. She was also instrumental in passing legislation in New York that capped the number of clients an Attorney for a Child could handle at any given time, was one of the architects of the city’s signature juvenile justice reform-Close to Home and lead the way to 24 hour arraignment of all youth in the juvenile justice system .
She is currently the Co-Chair of the ACS/Advocate Child Welfare Reform Committee, Treasurer of the Board of the National Juvenile Defender Center, Chair of the National Association of Public Defender’s Juvenile Justice Committee, and a Steering Committee member, and is currently the Juvenile Justice Expert in a federal project designed to measure effective defender representation for adults and children. She has been awarded the NYSBA’s Levine Award forExcellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare, the NYLJ’s Top 30 Women in Law and the Hofstra Law School Public Justice Foundation’s 2017 Outstanding Alumni Award. She has published various articles including “Litigating Racism: Exposing Injustice in Juvenile Prosecutions” and“Perspective: A New Era in Representing Children” and has become a spokesperson on behalf of JRP’s clients, speaking publicly in numerous forums regarding issues of child welfare and juvenile justice.
Secretary and General Counsel
Scott has served as the General Counsel of The Legal Aid Society since 2011. Mr. Rosenberg is responsible for overseeing all legal matters in which the Society is the principal, including compliance with federal, state, and local laws, and not-for-profit governance and regulation. He plays a key role in the negotiation and enforcement of contracts; audits; real estate transactions and lease compliance as well as coordinates the involvement of outside counsel in legal matters where the Society is a principal.
Chief Financial Officer
Ezra has served as the Chief Financial Officer since 2016, overseeing the Society’s financial operations and professional staff. Previously, he spent nearly 12 years in the capacity of Senior Director of Finance, overseeing the Society’s financials in internal reporting, budgeting, and forecasting, as well as the Society’s analytical capabilities. Ezra’s function included implementing new technology, including the transition to a state of the art non-profit financial ledger platform, Blackbaud Financial Edge, and other operational efficiencies. Prior to joining The Legal Aid Society, Ezra worked in the retail sector as Senior Director of Finance and Controller at Delia’s and as a Manager of Financial Planning and Analysis at Tiffany’s. Ezra began his career in a manufacturing environment, for a division of Unilever, in the capacity of Management Accountant.