Karen Smolar is the Legal Training Director of the Criminal Practice at the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Massachusetts. Before coming to the Commonwealth, she worked as a criminal defense attorney since graduating from law school in 1992. For the last 19 years, Karen was the Trial Chief at the Bronx Defenders in New York City. At CPCS, she works with the Training Unit developing and conducting legal and skills trainings for the public defenders and bar advocates across the state. She also works with other practice areas at CPCS as they conceptualize training across all practice areas. While at The Bronx Defenders, in 2007, Karen created Defenders’ Academy , an national, innovative trial skills program for public and private attorneys across the nation. The program continues to this day and is the only one of its kind in the country that focuses on the intersection between trial skills and performance work and welcomes attorneys from criminal, family and civil practices.
In August of 2017, Karen was appointed to become the Dean of the National Criminal Defense College after serving as a committed faculty member for over ten years. She has also taught Trial Advocacy as an adjunct professor at St. John’s School of Law and Seton Hall Law School. She has lectured on various topics for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the New York State Defenders Association and other defenders offices, nationally. She has also been a guest trainer at various state-wide public defender training programs across the nation.