Statement of Qualifications from Melinda Sarafa

Melina SarafaMelinda Sarafa

Position Seeking: Board Member

I have been a member of NACDL since I began practicing law as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in 1997. NACDL consistently has been an invaluable source of support, professional camaraderie and education for me, while also being a forceful voice for the defense in connection with a range of critical criminal justice issues. Anticipating a long career devoted to criminal defense, I became a Life Member in 2003. I continue to believe wholeheartedly in the mission of NACDL and cannot imagine practicing criminal defense without it.

After many years of attending conferences and participating in committee work, I became a Director of NACDL in 2011. It has been a great privilege to serve as a Director and become more deeply involved in the substantive work and governance of the organization. As a Director, I have been most actively involved in the White Collar, Membership and National Security Committees, and I seek a second term so that I can continue to contribute further to the work of these and other committees.

I joined the NACDL White Collar Committee in 2005, and served as its Co-Chair in 2011-2012. This July I will begin a position as in-house counsel at an investment advisory firm, where my primary role will be to oversee insider trading compliance. This transition will enable me to interact with the white collar enforcement regime from a wholly different perspective, which I hope will prove to be of particular value to the work of the White Collar Committee. It may also enable me to offer fresh insights as a member of the Advisory Committee for the White Collar Criminal Defense College at Stetson, which I have been involved with since its inception.

During the past two years I have become increasingly involved in the work of the Membership Committee. Beginning in 2012, I helped organize a series of events designed to recruit and retain women members, and in 2013 I became Co-Chair of the Women's Initiative of the Membership Committee. I have discovered through these efforts that there is a tremendous desire among women criminal defense lawyers of all ages to connect with and learn from one another, and have received very encouraging feedback from the women and men who have attended Women's Initiative events. The Women's Initiative has tremendous potential to recruit new members to NACDL and increase retention, and I look forward to its continued growth.

I view my career in law primarily as an opportunity to counsel to those in need, while also helping to shape the society in which we live. Since 2006 I have operated my own solo criminal defense practice and served as a member of the Criminal Justice Act Panel in the Southern District of New York. While I will no longer engage in the day-to-day defense of the accused in my new in-house position, I will nevertheless continue to provide much-needed counsel to those navigating within a complex and increasingly hostile regulatory environment, and will remain very active in teaching and advocacy.

I would be greatly honored to receive your support so that I may continue to contribute to the profoundly important work of NACDL.

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