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Mark Funkmark-funk-new

Monroe County Conflict Defender

Monroe County Conflict Defender’s Office

Years in current role:4

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I get to help a lot of people. The Monroe County Conflict Defender’s Office, and the attorneys of the Assigned Counsel Program, represent thousands of clients in criminal, Family Court and appellate matters each year. We represent the most vulnerable populations in our society during the worst times in their lives. I am filled with pride every time one of our attorneys helps a client get their children returned to them, gets evidence suppressed or overturns a conviction on appeal. The dedication of the attorneys of Monroe County who do this difficult work always amazes me.

What do you see as the biggest changes in the legal industry in the next 3-5 years?

It is an interesting and exciting time to be a criminal defense attorney! Recent legislation amending New York’s system of bail, criminal discovery procedures and the age of criminal responsibility have fundamentally altered defense representation. An additional piece of legislation, requiring New York State to fulfill its constitutional obligation to provide quality representation to indigent defendants, will have an even more profound effect. Numerous initiatives will be implemented over the next few years to ensure that our most vulnerable populations are receiving quality representation. I only hope that the state realizes the need for similar reforms in Family Court representation.

What advice would you give law students who are graduating this year?

I always give law students three pieces of advice. 1. You can never meet enough people or have enough contacts — you never know where your next opportunity will come from. 2. Keep your options open. I use myself as an example. In law school, my answer to the question, “What areas of law do you NOT want to practice?” would have been criminal defense and family law. I have been practicing in those areas for 25 years and would not change that for the world. 3. Work hard.

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