Hemangi S. Pai
From an early age Hemangi knew that she wanted to devote her life to empowering marginalized people. Growing up in Ohio, Hemangi often felt her minority voice was overlooked and ignored. Hoping to assist others who shared her minority experiences, Hemangi majored in pre-law at the University of Toledo with the intent of becoming a civil rights attorney. While at Toledo, Hemangi worked closely with professors to create Law and Social Thought, an interdisciplinary program centered on the relationship between law, morality and power. Based on her studies, Hemangi became interested in criminal law.
Following her undergraduate studies, Hemangi attended Northeastern Law School focusing her attention on race and criminal law. During her second and third year, Hemangi was chosen to be a teaching facilitator for first year law students taking Law, Culture and Difference, a course focused on discourse and critical study of diversity issues in the law. Hemangi used this forum to challenge the black/white dichotomy in the law and to explore the interplay of race and ethnicity. As a teaching facilitator, Hemangi authored two social justice project manuals for first-year law students. These manuals were used by the Children’s Law Center and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers’ Guild in their efforts to assist indigent communities in Boston.
During law school, Hemangi also worked with three criminal defense organizations, the Office of the Appellate Defender, Roxbury Defenders, and the Connecticut Public Defenders Office, where she worked with indigent populations from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. This experience helped cement her desire to use her skills and passion for underprivileged and targeted communities.
After graduating from law school, Hemangi worked as a Staff Attorney at the Committee for Public Counsel Services, Public Defender Division, in Springfield, Massachusetts. She took a holistic approach to lawyering by building relationships with her clients based on trust and support that went beyond the courtroom. Hemangi worked closely with key players in the criminal justice system, including probation officers, community organizations and even judges, to find alternative resolutions to incarceration.
In 2007, Hemangi moved to New York to pursue her academic interests and attended the New School for Social Research, focusing her studies on race and crime. Hemangi returned to practicing law in 2009 when she began working as an Agency Attorney for the Administration for Children’s Services. Shortly thereafter, Hemangi’s passion for criminal defense motivated her to apply to Brooklyn Defender Services. She used her experience at ACS to learn everything she could about Family Court and the difficulties parents face when ACS becomes involved in their lives. After much patience and prayer, Hemangi began working at Brooklyn Defender Services in March of 2011. She is very proud to be working at an organization that fulfills her desire to give voice to those who are marginalized.