News Release

Atlanta, GA, Lawyer Drew Findling Sworn In as 2018-19 President of Nation's Criminal Defense Bar; Receives Prestigious 2018 Heeney Award

Washington, DC (July 30, 2018) -- Drew Findling of Atlanta, GA, was sworn in as President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) at the Association's Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, FL, on July 29. In addition, Findling was chosen as the 2018 recipient of NACDL’s Robert C. Heeney Memorial Award. This highly prestigious honor is presented annually to the NACDL member who best demonstrates the goals and values of the Association and of the legal profession.

A Life Member of NACDL, Findling joined the Association in 1988 and has served multiple terms on the Board of Directors. His commitment includes service as chair of multiple committees related to forensic science, chair of the Membership Committee, and as co-chair of the Discovery Reform Committee. He also served as a member of NACDL’s Nominating Committee and National Forensics Litigation College Advisory Board.

“Drew Findling’s entire life has been about service and the defense of people against whom the deck is clearly stacked, people who quite literally are oppressed by our criminal justice system,” said NACDL Immediate Past President Rick Jones, who presented Findling with NACDL’s Heeney Award. “Drew’s dedication to each and every one of his clients is evident to all who have worked with him. He is as committed to the unique, Constitutionally-ordained role of the criminal defense lawyer as anyone I have ever known. Drew truly embodies the very best of what our profession aspires to be.”

After receiving the Heeney Award, Findling was sworn in as President of the Association by Vernon S. Pitts, Jr., Director of the Fulton County Public Defender Office, who hired Findling as a public defender 33 years ago at the start of his career.

Upon being sworn in as NACDL President, Findling said: “I will not be able to sleep at night if during the next twelve months I do nothing to lessen the impact of collateral consequences for the men and women who have been arrested, prosecuted and/or convicted of a crime; especially those who have been sentenced to prison. I will only be able to sleep better at night after I know I have done something to ease their transition back to society, by helping to restore their right to vote, enhance their opportunity to get jobs that pay living wages and overall reestablish themselves as citizens whose past misdeeds have truly been forgiven and forgotten.”

Addressing the issue of the collateral consequences of arrest and conviction is a top priority of NACDL President Drew Findling. In that regard, and under his leadership, NACDL will be hosting its second Presidential Summit together with its 17th annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference – “Shattering the Shackles of Collateral Consequences: Exploring Moral Principles and Economic Innovations to Restore Rights and Opportunity” – in Atlanta, Georgia, from August 23 to 25, 2018. Guest speakers include former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, and NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, among numerous other experts, luminaries, and formerly incarcerated people facing the challenges of the collateral consequences of conviction. Comedian and actor Mike Epps is serving as Honorary Chair of the hosted reception on Thursday, August 23, at the Atlanta Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Findling was recently profiled in a New York Times piece, “Atlanta’s #BillionDollarLawyer Is Looking Out for Your Favorite Rappers.” And he was a guest speaker at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival on “Hip-Hop Collision: Music Race and the Law.” Findling is also the subject of a forthcoming documentary by this fall on CNN’s “Great Big Story.”

Findling's practice, The Findling Law Firm, P.C., focuses exclusively on federal and state criminal defense and he tries cases ranging from matters involving complex white collar crimes to serious violent felonies. Findling spent the first three years of his career as a Fulton County, GA public defender. Over the past 30 years, he has represented clients in state and federal courts across the country, as well as in international matters.

As a public defender, he was a leader in developing the battered woman syndrome defense. Nationally, Drew was the first attorney to successfully employ that defense based exclusively on verbal abuse. For his efforts, the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (GACDL) awarded him their Indigent Defense Award. In recent years, he has successfully represented a string of well-known clients including: Dennis Rodman, Shaquille O'Neal, Grammy Award Nominee Faith Evans, actor/comedian Mike Epps, actor/comedian Katt Williams, Hip Hop superstars Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka Flame, and Offset and Quavo from the Grammy-nominated group Migos. Findling has also represented Morris Brown College President Dolores Cross, Fulton County Sheriff Jackie Barrett, and, in the highly publicized public corruption jury trial of Clayton County, GA Sheriff Victor Hill, Findling won an acquittal of all charges in the 37-count indictment. For his effort on behalf of Sheriff Hill, Findling received the NAACP's Civil and Human Rights Award and a commendation by the Legislative Black Caucus of Georgia. He also secured a non-prosecution agreement for the long-serving District Attorney of Douglas County, GA, David McDade.

Continue reading below

In his more than 30 years of practice, Findling has published numerous articles and spoken on such topics as defending battered woman syndrome cases, jury selection in high profile cases, forensic preparation for a criminal trial, effective opening statements and closing arguments, professionalism, and cross-examination. He has lectured at Emory Law School, Georgia State University College of Law, and the University of Georgia Law School. He has been on the faculty of the National Criminal Defense College since 1989 and also teaches at NACDL's White Collar Criminal Defense College at Stetson and Tulane University Law School's Pre Trial Criminal Litigation Boot Camp. Findling is also regularly invited to serve as a legal analyst on various respected national television news networks.

Findling is a member of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, GACDL, and the American Bar Association. Findling also serves on the Board of Advisors for the prestigious National Clearing House on Science and Technology of Law. He has been named as one of Georgia's Legal Elite in Georgia Trend MagazineAtlanta Journal-Constitution's Top Lawyers in Georgia, and as a Georgia "Super Lawyer" by Atlanta Magazine. Most recently, he was selected for inclusion in the 24th edition of Best Lawyers in America© for 2018 in the area of criminal defense-general practice.

Findling is a 1981 graduate of Oglethorpe University and a 1984 graduate of the Emory University School of Law.

A high resolution version of Drew Findling's photo is available by clicking the image. PHOTO CREDIT: © 2018 NACDL Photo by Johnathon Kelso @johnathonkelso.

Continue reading below

Featured Products



Ivan Dominguez, NACDL Director of Public Affairs and Communications, (202) 465-7662 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.