Courtesy of Alex Taubes

During the summer after his first year at Yale Law School, Alex Taubes LAW ’15 realized that he did not want to use his law degree to serve powerful corporations.

While working at a local firm in New Haven alongside law professor Jay Pottenger LAW ’75, who passed away last year, he recalls being inspired by the work he did with Pottenger who he saw as a mentor.

The Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, the program that supported Taubes’ summer work, provides legal representation to individuals and organizations in need of legal services but unable to afford private attorneys, per the Law School’s website. This experience, he said, fueled his commitment to remain in Connecticut and pursue a career in civil rights law. 

He later founded the Alexander T. Taubes law firm in 2019.

“We have focused our efforts on helping the underdog in their battles against corporations, insurance companies, the government and advancing causes of justice and equality,” Taubes told the News.

Taubes, who received his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Boston University, told the News that a big focus of his law firm lies in assisting individuals who were wrongfully convicted. He added that his goal extends beyond merely securing freedom — he also fights for exoneration and compensation for the time individuals spent away from loved ones.

Additionally, Taubes highlighted his firm’s substantial involvement in police accountability, ensuring that victims of police brutality receive proper compensation and holding law enforcement accountable for their actions. Beyond this, he is actively engaged in diverse legal areas, including election law, criminal law and safeguarding consumer rights.

Taubes also said that his law firm is currently in the process of recruiting a new attorney. He underscored the inclusive nature of their hiring approach, emphasizing that a candidate’s legal background does not matter as long as they share the firm’s common goal of achieving sentence reductions, fighting mass incarceration and reuniting people with their families.

“We take people from anywhere,” Taubes said. “It doesn’t matter what their background is.”

Michael Merli, a paralegal at Taubes’ law firm who’s involved in harm reduction within Connecticut’s criminal justice system, told the News the story of how he landed his current job.

Merli recalled his initial encounter with Taubes, revealing that they crossed paths at several police brutality protests in Connecticut in 2019. At one protest, Merli, along with 10 other organizers, were arrested by Bridgeport police. Hours later, Taubes arrived late at night to provide them with legal support.

In 2020, Merli joined the Abolition Ummah, a Muslim female-led community organization that operates at the grassroots level. He highlighted Taubes’ enthusiastic collaboration with the organization, often providing legal assistance and representation to incarcerated individuals associated with Abolition Ummah.

“Alex has taught me what it means to truly be a movement lawyer,” Merli told the News. “His legal work involves co-strategizing in community with people challenging state violence, and questioning the premises that far too often go unquestioned here in Connecticut.”

He added that much of Taubes’ work centers the stories of clients and their families, and Taubes is inspired by many of his coworkers and their journey as their commitment to justice, people and community is personal and immense.

Another paralegal at the law firm, Michael Braham, told the News that he initially encountered Taubes during the COVID-19 pandemic through Jeannia Fu, a New Haven activist. At that time, Braham was serving a 25-year sentence in a Connecticut prison. Fu, engaged in an initiative to assist incarcerated individuals in obtaining release, enlisted Taubes to represent Braham in his case. Taubes worked on Braham’s case free of charge, resulting in a significant reduction of seven years from his sentence.

“This is significant because very few attorneys were doing sentence modifications and the ones who were, wanted tens of thousands of dollars to do so,” Braham said.

After being released from prison, Braham moved to New Haven and was employed at Taubes’ law firm about a month after his release. Braham emphasized the significance of this opportunity, noting that it is rare for attorneys to hire individuals with a history of incarceration, especially those who have served a lengthy sentence.

Braham was also recently accepted to law school with the assistance of Yale Law School’s Access to Law School Program. This program, spearheaded by Law School professor James Forman Jr. LAW ’92, actively involves and guides New Haven-area students and adults aspiring to pursue a career in the legal profession.

Matthew Abraham, who handles incoming paperwork at the law firm and assists clients with understanding processes such as commutation and sentence modification, emphasized to the News the importance of diversity and inclusion at the law firm, particularly thanking Taubes for his support. 

“I find immense fulfillment in practicing civil rights law, especially as a person of color,” Abraham told the News. “It’s a profound honor to contribute to a field with such a rich history, especially considering my own experiences as a former prisoner within our criminal justice system. This work holds deep personal significance for me, as I never envisioned myself having the opportunity to work in law, let alone within civil rights.”

Abraham said that he was grateful for Taubes’ “inclusive approach” because he not only opened doors for people of color but also because he works with many formerly incarcerated people. 

He added that Taubes commitment to advocating for the rights of all individuals, regardless of their background, is evident in the firm’s culture.

“It’s truly inspiring to be a part of a team that prioritizes justice and equality for everyone,” he said.

The Alexander T. Taubes law firm is located at 59 Elm St.

Adam Walker is the University Editor of the Yale Daily News. He previously covered Yale Law School for the University desk. Originally from Long Island, New York, he is a rising junior in Branford College double majoring in Economics and American Studies.