News Release

NACDL Press Publishes The Feminine Sixth: Women for the Defense, by Leading Defense Attorney and Legal Scholar Andrea D. Lyon

Washington, DC (Mar. 1, 2018) – Today, the start of Women’s History Month, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, through its publishing unit NACDL Press, released The Feminine Sixth: Women for the Defense, a groundbreaking book on women in criminal defense by Andrea D. Lyon. Ms. Lyon is a leading criminal defense attorney, legal scholar, Dean and Professor of Law at Valparaiso University School of Law, and decades-long NACDL member.

The Feminine Sixth: Women for the Defense probes the non-fictional accounts of women criminal defense lawyers. Set at a fictional symposium held during Women’s History Month, nine accomplished lawyers reveal the unique ways in which they experience criminal defense practice, the courtroom, and their relationships with clients. With detailed insight into their personal and professional lives, this book illuminates the vital role and immense contributions of women in the profession. Each page invites the reader to travel through moments of justice and injustice, sorrow and joy, and failure and success. The Feminine Sixth: Women for the Defense offers an intimate story of those who tirelessly represent people accused of crime.

"I wrote this book because there were stories that needed to be told, stories of extraordinary women that you likely do not know," Ms. Lyon said. "These women have all been or are still criminal defense lawyers. They have all had differing experiences doing this work, figuring out how to live their lives while doing it, and being aware of how their gender affected or still affects those choices and styles. The Sixth Amendment guarantees those accused of crime the right to defense counsel. It is one of the few occupations mandated by the U.S. Constitution. These are the stories of those who have assumed this constitutional responsibility who are women (a relatively new occurrence): the feminine Sixth."

NACDL President Rick Jones said: "This book fills a void that should have never existed. The experiences and contributions of women in the legal profession have been largely overlooked, ignored, or dismissed. However, in this book, my friend Andrea has not only claimed these experiences and contributions, but shares them in a compelling, compassionate, and intimate manner. The Feminine Sixth: Women for the Defense is a must-read for anyone interested in the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

"Timing in life is everything," said NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer. "When research on this book began no one could have predicted how timely a discussion about the challenges facing women in the workplace would be on its publication date. This book is exactly what America needs today as the most important conversation on gender issues in a generation unfolds around us. The Feminine Sixth exposes the real challenges faced by women in a tough heretofore male dominated profession, and shows how women of talent, courage, and dedication overcome those challenges and forever change the world for the better. NACDL is proud to publish this book, which is guaranteed to inspire this and future generations."

Andrea D. Lyon has tried more than 130 homicide cases, both within the public defender's office and elsewhere. She has defended more than 30 potential capital cases at the trial level. Of these she has taken 19 through the penalty phases and won them all. In 2014, Lyon was appointed the twelfth and first female dean of Valparaiso University Law School, where she currently serves today. Formerly, she was at DePaul College of Law, where she was a Clinical Professor of Law, Associate Dean of Clinical Programs, and founder and director of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases. Lyon has also served as a Visiting Professor and Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Michigan Law School. In 1990, she founded the Illinois Capital Resource Center and acted as its director until 1995. Lyon began her career at the Office of the Cook County Public Defender. Her previous works, published to high acclaim, include The Death Penalty: What's Keeping It Alive, Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer, and the legal textbook Federal Habeas Corpus: Cases and Materials.

Praise for The Feminine Sixth: Women for the Defense 

"Women criminal defense lawyers are relative newcomers to the macho, high-stakes world of crime and punishment. This book brings together a diverse group of women who speak with remarkable frankness and introspection about all aspects of their experiences – from facing outright discrimination, to managing emotions in a job that confronts them with terrible suffering by victims and defendants alike, to balancing demanding and unpredictable work with family commitments. Enormously engaging and deeply thoughtful, these interviews offer a ‘different voice’ that speaks to some of the biggest challenges and highest aspirations of our criminal justice system."

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-- Professor Carol Steiker, Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School 

"Andrea Lyon is one of America's greatest criminal defense attorneys. Her skills in the courtroom are only matched by her commitment to teaching and training new generations of lawyers. This wonderful book is a must read."

-- Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative 

"Andrea taught me three things: The law ain’t just for rich people; all women don’t just follow the rules; and some women fight harder for right than men. Andrea is one in a million and she filled my heart up and gave me a soul when I was heartless and merciless. So if this book does anything, it shows that there are more women like her out there and us poor people are all the richer for it." 

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-- Robert Langford, Former Client of Andrea D. Lyon 

"Andrea Lyon has done it again. This time, she invites readers into the fascinating lives and work of nine women who have made careers for themselves as criminal defense lawyers, as well as her own life and work. This raw and honest window into the diverse and growing ranks of women who chose the noble path of standing beside and defending those accused of a crime is a very special book indeed. The challenges of service as a criminal defense lawyer are formidable. In The Feminine Sixth: Women for the Defense, Andrea tells the story of these incredible defense lawyers with the insight and sensitivity that one has come to expect from this towering figure in the profession."

-- Sister Helen Prejean, Author of Dead Man Walking 

The Feminine Sixth: Women for the Defense is the first work published exclusively by NACDL Press. You can purchase The Feminine Sixth at Join the conversation using #TheFeminine6th on Facebook at and on Twitter at

A link to an NACDL "The Criminal Docket" podcast with author Andrea D. Lyon about The Feminine Sixth is available here.

To learn more about Andrea D. Lyon, please visit her profile. A catalog of Ms. Lyon's representative scholarship is available here. In addition, other titles by Ms. Lyon are available on here.

NACDL Press published its first book jointly with Thomson Reuters Westlaw in July 2012, Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge, by Judge Frederic Block. NACDL Press has since published two additional works with Thomson Reuters Westlaw: Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions: Law, Policy and Practice, by Margaret Colgate Love, Jenny Roberts, & Cecilia Klingele, published in February 2013 and updated for its 2016 edition, now available here; and Not Guilty: The Unlawful Prosecution of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, by Rob Cary, Sen. Ted Stevens's defense attorney, published in September 2014.


Alexandra Funk, NACDL Public Affairs & Communications Assistant, (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.