Jillian Nowak – Supervising Immigration Attorney

Jillian Nowak

Supervising Immigration Attorney

(716) 844-8266 ext. 1323   

jnowak@plsny.org

Jillian Nowak was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. Jillian received her B.A. in Sociology from Hofstra University and her J.D. from the University at Buffalo with a concentration in International Law. In 2014, as the recipient of the Buffalo Human Rights Center Fellowship, Jillian conducted research on reparations for victims of the Khmer Rouge genocide through the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Jillian was selected for the inaugural class of New York Pro Bono Scholars and was admitted to the New York State Bar in June 2015. Before joining PLS, Jillian worked at Journey’s End Refugee Services, one of Buffalo’s refugee resettlement agencies, providing free and low cost legal representation to immigrants, including refugees and asylum seekers. Jillian also co-owns a small knitting business, and the collective, known as West Side Stitchery, proudly hosts the annual Buffalo Women’s Gifts Arts And Crafts Show.

James Milstein – Managing Attorney

James Milstein

Managing Attorney

(518) 694-8699 ext. 2101

cell (518) 423-1719

jmilstein@plsny.org

Jim Milstein graduated from the University of Vermont in 1980 and Albany Law School in 1983. He was an Assistant Public Defender for Albany County and a partner in the law firm of Milstein & Milstein from 1984 to 2011.  Jim was the Albany County Public Defender from 2011 -2016.  From 2016 through 2018, Jim was the Director of the Regional Immigration Assistance Center for the Capital District and Northern New York. In this capacity Jim provided assistance and training to attorneys in fourteen counties in Upstate New York who were representing noncitizen clients in criminal proceedings.  As Public Defender Jim was recognized for his commitment to provide alternative treatment programs for clients and was proud to work with other community leaders to develop the Law Enforcement Assistance Diversion (LEAD) Program which has received national recognition.  As the Director of the Regional Immigration Assistance Center, Jim would assist attorneys to insure that the attorneys were properly counseling noncitizen clients of the immigration consequences of their cases as constitutionally required by Padilla v. Kentucky. Most importantly, Jim guided attorneys to achieve the most advantageous plea bargains that would minimize or eliminate the potential disastrous effects of deportation. He also provided direct representation for cases in which post-conviction relief proceedings[JM1] . The Regional Immigration Assistance Center also provided legal assistance to individuals who had been arrested by local ICE officers.

Marie-Ann Sennett – Managing Attorney

Marie-Ann Sennett

Managing Attorney

(845) 391-3110 ext. 1503

msennett@plsny.org

Marie returns to PLS as the Managing Attorney for our new Newburgh Office. Happy to be back with PLS, she last worked in the Buffalo Office from 1993 through 1998 as a staff attorney. A civil rights and criminal attorney for over 29 years, Marie worked a Public Defender in Baltimore and New York City where she honed her trial skills, as an immigration attorney, and as a prisoners’ rights attorney. She graduated from Temple Law School in 1989. In her role as Executive Director of D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project, Marie worked to reduce the prison population, build alternatives to sentencing, and develop a holistic reentry strategy. She regularly brought cases against the injustices caused by the private prison industry. Marie is excited the Newburgh Office will be running the Pre-Release and Re-Entry Program. In an effort to bring teens new opportunities, Marie created a Teen CSI program where the forensic experts of the Baltimore City Police taught the teens crime scene investigation and testing, and judges, prosecutors, and criminal defense attorneys taught the teens trial skills. She also taught yoga and mindfulness at the Boys and Girls Club.

Sophia Heller – Managing Attorney

Sophia Heller

Managing Attorney

(518) 438-8046  ext. 1106

sheller@plsny.org

Sophia joined PLS as a staff attorney in 2011 after graduating from Georgetown Law. At PLS she has litigated a range of issues in federal and state court, including damage actions for wrongful solitary confinement, excessive use of force by guards, the failure to protect incarcerated individuals from assault by other prisoners, state writs of habeas corpus, and challenges to agency decisions through Article 78 proceedings. She became Managing Attorney of PLS’ Albany office in 2018. Prior to law school Sophia earned a B.F.A. in film from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a Ph.D. in mythological studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her decision to attend law school was motivated, in large part, by her inability to satisfactorily answer the question of what one does with a Ph.D. in mythological studies. A class on prison law ignited a passion for prisoner rights, and she hasn’t looked back since. Sophia was also a contestant on NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” in 2009 and proudly uses Carl Kassell’s recorded greeting on her voicemail to this day.