News Release

Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Presents Champion of Justice Legal Award to Legal Ethics Expert Ellen Yaroshefsky

Washington, DC (Aug. 18, 2022) – On August 13, legal ethics professor Ellen Yaroshefsky was awarded the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) Champion of Justice Legal Award at the Association’s annual meeting. Champion of Justice Awards are bestowed upon those individuals who – through legislative, journalistic, philanthropic, or humanitarian pursuits – have staunchly preserved or defended the constitutional rights of American citizens and have endeavored to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime. Yaroshefsky is the Howard Lichtenstein Professor of Legal Ethics and Director of the Monroe Freedman Institute for the Study of Legal Ethics at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. She teaches ethics courses and criminal procedure, organizes symposia, and writes and lectures in the field of legal ethics with a concentration in issues in the criminal legal system. Yaroshefsky counsels lawyers and law firms and serves as an expert witness.

“Ellen knows more about legal ethics off the top of her head than most of us could learn in a lifetime,” said Laurie Shanks, Emerita Professor of Law at Albany Law School. “Much more important is her willingness to share her brilliance and knowledge. No matter how busy she is, and she is always very busy, she never, never, never says no to a friend, colleague, or a lawyer who calls her out of the blue and needs her help. She is a shining light of the legal profession, and no one deserves this award more. She is without a doubt a Champion of Justice.”

Yaroshefsky serves on various national, state, and local bar associations and was a Commissioner on the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics and the Co-Chair of the American Bar Association Ethics, Gideon, and Professionalism Committee of the Criminal Justice Section. She currently serves on the New York State Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct and co-chairs NACDL’s Ethics Advisory Committee. She received her Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University.

“She always answers the bell. She's among the first and most successful litigators in defense of the harassment and discrimination against women,” said NACDL Past President Barry Scheck. “She was a key figure at Cardozo when we started the Innocence Project in 1992 and has been our ethics advisor and our confidant for 30 years. Most importantly, she's a remarkably principled, compassionate, and supportive friend.”

“Ellen’s intelligence is exceeded only by her reliability and collaborative spirit,” said NACDL Immediate Past President Martín Sabelli. “She plays the long game envisioning a better world through reform and responds to the call in moments of crisis on behalf of defenders and their clients. She explores new ideas with passion and has championed the most vulnerable as an advocate, as a teacher, and as an expert. Ellen is also recognized nationally as an extraordinarily creative teacher who sends her students into the world prepared not only to litigate but also to respect the highest ethical standards in their practice. She is a force for good in the legal profession, her community, and the world. She has led NACDL by example and by service for many years and we are profoundly indebted to her.”

“It’s been such a privilege all these years to know so many people in this room who I’ve worked with for years, so the idea that I receive this award is quite an honor. Thank you all very much,” said Ellen Yaroshefsky. “One of the things I’m most grateful for in this organization is the number of women in leadership. It’s also so wonderful to see this organization grapple with diversity. It has become more diverse and obviously needs to go further. But it’s really changed... and it’s just remarkable to see the work done on mass incarceration, on racial justice, and currently on reproductive justice. It is so significant, and I’m thrilled to have joined the wonderful women and men who are leading that work.”

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Jessie Diamond, Public Affairs and Communications Associate, (202) 465-7647 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.