Legal Aid Society’s Tina Luongo honored with LGBTQ+ Bar’s Legal Services Justice Award

July 14, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Tina Luongo, Chief Attorney of the Criminal Defense Practice of The Legal Aid Society, has been recognized for their exceptional contributions to the advancement of justice for low-income, marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ and HIV+ communities. The honor came in the form of the prestigious Legal Services Justice Award, granted by the LGBTQ+ Bar.

Luongo, who uses they/them pronouns, has dedicated almost 30 years to nonprofits advocating for social justice and has contributed significantly to clients and communities in New York City and beyond. Their impressive career as a public defender began at The Legal Aid Society, where they first served as a staff attorney, then as Supervising Attorney.

In these roles, Luongo not only directly represented clients but also trained and managed teams of attorneys, paralegals, and investigators. They were a key member of the task force that worked with Davis Polk LLP to establish the landmark legislation capping public defenders’ caseloads in New York City, a measure critical to upholding the robust representation required by the U.S. Constitution.

In 2011, Luongo ascended to the role of Deputy Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice, overseeing daily operations for a staff of over 1200 dedicated professionals. As Chief Attorney, Luongo has championed law reform, policy advocacy, and affirmative litigation. Their leadership has resulted in improved access to medical care for people held at Rikers Island, better treatment for LGBTQIA+ individuals under the NYC Department of Correction’s care, and strengthened transparency and accountability for NYPD officers.

Before joining The Legal Aid Society, Luongo served as Vice President of Operations for the national gang intervention and prevention nonprofit, Council for Unity. There, they oversaw the development, finance, and human resources functions of the organization.

Throughout their career, Luongo has been committed to improving the lives of those within or on the brink of the criminal justice system. They have been pivotal in enhancing the diversity of the public defense workforce and have actively contributed to The Legal Aid Society’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

In August 2023, Luongo will make history as the first gender non-conforming Chair of the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section. They will work with public and private criminal defense attorneys, State and Federal prosecutors, esteemed members of the bench, and academia to set standards for racial equity and fairness in the criminal legal system.

Luongo’s work extends to their membership on the Board of Directors of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association and past presidency of the Chief Defender Association of New York.


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