Nicola (Nika) Cohen’s practice is devoted to pro bono matters related to the criminal legal system. As a member of the firm’s Public Service Initiative, Nika litigates death penalty, post-conviction and prison conditions cases on behalf of indigent clients across the US.

    Prior to joining the firm’s Public Service Initiative, Nika served as a law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She also served as a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she briefed and argued an appeal in the Sixth Circuit, assisted with numerous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court at the merits and certiorari stages, and advised the Solicitor General regarding appeals in the lower federal courts. While in law school, Nika worked at the Southern Center for Human Rights, the Center for Appellate Litigation and the Legal Aid Society Prisoners’ Rights Project.

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    • Member of a legal team that successfully resolved all pending litigation in federal and state courts over the planned execution of a client in Alabama.
    • Successfully argued before the Alabama Parole Board for the release of a client serving a life sentence.
    • Represented the federal government in the Sixth Circuit in a matter involving a procedural post-conviction issue.
    • Represented a client, who had received ineffective assistance of counsel, in the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division.


    • Columbia Law School, J.D., Ruth Bader Ginsburg Prize; James Kent Scholar; Articles Editor, Columbia Law Review, 2018
    • Princeton University, B.A., 2013


    • New York, 2019


    • U.S. Ct. of App., Sixth Circuit
    • U.S. Ct. of App., Ninth Circuit
    • U.S. Dist. Ct., S. Dist. of New York

    Memberships and Affiliations

    • Member, Corrections & Community Reentry Committee, New York City Bar Association
    • Member, Capital Punishment Committee, New York City Bar Association
    • Mentor, The Appellate Project

    • Author, “Why Is No One Demanding an Explanation for the Torture of Doyle Hamm?” The Nation, March 13, 2018.
    • Author, “Why Ross v. Blake Opens a Door to Federal Courts for Incarcerated Adolescents,” 51 Colum. J. L. & Soc. Probs. 177, 2017.

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