Legal Aid Society


Phil Desgranges Set to Lead Criminal Defense Law Reform at LAS

The Legal Aid Society today announced the appointment of Phil Desgranges to Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice’s Law Reform team, which includes the Special Litigation Unit, Prisoners’ Rights Project, Policy Unit, Community Justice Unit, Decarceration Project, and Incarcerated Client Services Unit.

In this role, Desgranges will lead a team of directors, supervising attorneys and other staff in working to develop and advance innovative impact litigation and policy reform initiatives, build and maintain coalitions with other community organizations and leaders, engage in public education and media advocacy, and collaborate with defenders to address the systemic legal issues affecting our public defense clients.

Desgranges previously served as a supervising attorney in the Special Litigation Unit of Legal Aid’s Criminal Defense Practice, where he has led challenges to the city’s practice of secretly taking and storing people’s DNA and the state’s mandatory detention of people accused of parole violations. Before coming to Legal Aid, Desgranges was a senior staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where he led challenges to the use of solitary confinement for teenagers, bail practices that deprived people of their freedom solely because of their inability to pay bail, and a school district’s practice of excluding newly arrived immigrants from high school.

“It is an honor to lead Legal Aid’s Law Reform team, which has for decades championed innovative civil rights litigation and policy campaigns in defense of New York City’s most vulnerable populations,” said Desgranges. “I look forward to working with the talented members of the Law Reform team to combat the systemic injustices low-income New Yorkers face today, including the humanitarian crisis at Rikers Island, the cycle of incarceration for people with mental health issues, abusive police practices, and more.”

“Phil has years of experience advocating for and securing critical reforms to our criminal legal system, whether in the courtroom, City Hall or in Albany,” said Tina Luongo, Chief Attorney of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “From ensuring our incarcerated clients’ access to medical care to holding the City to account for invasive DNA collection and storage practices, our clients and the communities we serve will continue to benefit with Phil leading the Criminal Defense Practice’s law reform efforts in this new role.”

“There is no better steward for the next stage of Legal Aid’s law reform mission than Phil Desgranges,” said Corey Stoughton, outgoing attorney-in-Charge of Legal Aid’s Law Reform team. “Phil has long been a thought leader on issues of New York criminal legal reform and the talent behind some of Legal Aid’s most successful strategic initiatives. I could not be more excited to hand over leadership of this incredible team to someone of his caliber.”