Karen Smolar

Training Director, Committee for Public Counsel Services
Work Cranston RI TPI Attendance: June, 2007
Photo of Karen Smolar


Karen has served as a devoted faculty member of NCDC since the year after attending as a Participant in 2007. After working as a public defender and then in private practice as a criminal trial attorney, she was a public defender in NYC at The Bronx Defenders from 2000 to 2018 as a staff attorney, supervisor, team leader and finally as the Trial Chief and the Director of Homicides. She is now the Legal Training Director at the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Massachusetts. While at the Bronx Defenders, Karen created The Defenders’ Academy, an innovative trial skills program for public and private attorneys across the nation, which focuses on the intersection between trial skills and performance work.

Karen has been an adjunct professor at St. John’s School of Law teaching Trial Advocacy and at Seton Hall Law School teaching Persuasion and Advocacy. She has lectured on various topics for the NACDL and the New York State Defenders Association. She has also been a guest trainer at various state-wide public defender programs across the nation. Karen graduated from Brooklyn Law School, where she was an Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Fellow and holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University. Her interest in performance work stems from her lifelong love for music, dance and sports. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband Jeff and her two children.