General Counsel Laura Hankins
General Counsel

Laura E. Hankins

Laura E. Hankins is the general counsel for PDS.  As general counsel, Ms. Hankins is the attorney for the organization. She provides counsel to the executive management team on issues related to PDS operations, resolves ethical conflicts, and, as necessary, works with outside counsel on legal matters involving PDS.  Prior to becoming the general counsel, Ms. Hankins served as special counsel to the director.  For sixteen years, Ms. Hankins was responsible for monitoring and commenting on legislation before the D.C. Council that raise criminal justice, juvenile justice, and mental health issues.  She worked on over 50 Council bills covering such issues as post-conviction DNA testing and innocence protection, criminal records sealing, confidentiality of juvenile records, and mandatory minimum prison sentences.  As PDS’s representative on the District of Columbia Sentencing and Criminal Code Revision Commission, Ms. Hankins helped create and assists with the implementation of the District’s voluntary sentencing guidelines, which are consulted in every Superior Court criminal case involving felonies.   She also served on the committee responsible for drafting the District’s pattern criminal jury instructions. 

Ms. Hankins was a member of the Legal Ethics Committee of the D.C. Bar from 2010 to 2016 and became a member of the Rules of Professional Conduct Review Committee of the D.C. Bar in 2015.  She began her legal career in 1992 in the Trial Division at PDS, defending indigent juveniles and adults accused of crimes.  In 1997, she joined the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc (LDF) as an associate counsel with the Criminal Justice Project.  At LDF, Ms. Hankins represented clients in both state and federal courts.  Ms. Hankins returned to PDS in January 2000 to do policy work.  She received a B.A. in economics from Brown University and a J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School.