Alan Ellis


Federal-Sentencing-Lawyer-Alan-EllisAlan Ellis, a past President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Fulbright Award recipient, is a criminal defense lawyer with offices in San Francisco and New York, and over 50 years of experience as a practicing lawyer, law professor, federal law clerk, and Fulbright Award recipient.

He is a nationally recognized authority in the fields of federal plea bargaining, sentencing, prison matters, appeals, habeas corpus 2255 motions and international criminal law. He has successfully represented federal criminal defendants and prisoners throughout the United States. Mr. Ellis is a sought-after lecturer in criminal law education programs and is widely published in the areas of federal sentencing, Bureau of Prisons matters, appeals and other post-conviction remedies, with more than 120 articles and books and 70 lectures, presentations and speaking engagements to his credit.

Federal Lawyer Magazine has described him as “One of this country’s pre-eminent criminal defense lawyers.” The San Francisco affiliate of ABC-TV has said that he is “The best in the business.” The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a published decision has described him as a “nationally recognized expert in federal criminal sentencing.” Verdict magazine quotes other legal commentators as saying that he is “the go-to guy in America if you’re in deep trouble with the feds.”

Among his publications are the highly acclaimed Federal Prison Guidebook, the Federal Sentencing Guidebook and the Federal Post Conviction Guidebook. Mr. Ellis also publishes “Federal Sentencing, Prison and Post Conviction News” and related Practice Tips.

In the area of international criminal law, Mr. Ellis was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Senior Specialist Award by the U.S. State Department to conduct lectures in China on American criminal law in the fall of 2007. He was the first practicing American criminal defense lawyer to have been invited to the Peoples Republic of China by both the Chinese and American governments to teach there. Fulbright awards are coveted and confer special status on winners during their year of foreign teaching as outstanding, officially-recognized representatives of the United States. It is one of the most prestigious award programs worldwide. More Fulbright alumni have won Nobel Prizes than those of any other academic program.

Mr. Ellis is

  • Past President, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
  • Former contributing Editor, American Bar Association Criminal Justice Magazine, for whom he wrote a regular quarterly column on federal sentencing, Bureau of Prisons matters, and post-conviction remedies.
  • AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell. An AV Rating is Martindale-Hubbell’s highest ratings for attorneys. It shows that a lawyer has reached the height of professional excellence. He or she has usually practiced law for many years, and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity.
  • Fulbright Senior Specialist. Visiting Fulbright Professor of Law, Jiaotong University School of Law, Shanghai, China.
  • Fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers.
  • Former member of the Board of Directors of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
  • Past President to the ACLU of Central Pennsylvania.
  • Former lecturer, Wharton School of Business and Finance, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

At the forefront of critical issues facing the criminal defense bar, Mr. Ellis founded the NACDL Lawyers Assistance Strike Force, which has attained national prominence for its support of criminal defense lawyers who are prosecuted, subpoenaed and harassed as a result of their ethical and vigorous defense of their clients. He also founded NACDL’s Amicus Curiae Committee which, during his tenure, filed briefs in over 40 major state and federal cases throughout the United States. For his work in founding NACDL’s Strike Force and Amicus Committee, he was awarded the Association’s 1983 Robert C. Heeney Award for distinguished contributions to the criminal defense bar.

Mr. Ellis has been interviewed extensively by the national media, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, USA Today, Forbes magazine ,“NBC Nightly News”, “ABC World News Tonight”, “CNN Prime News”, “CBS Radio News”, “National Public Radio”, Bloomberg News Television, and most recently CNBC.

He has been featured in the American Bar Association Journal, the San Francisco Recorder, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pacific Sun and profiled by the syndicated TV magazine show, “In America/The West”, as well as KGO TV, the ABC affiliate in San Francisco. Mr. Ellis has written numerous editorials on criminal justice issues which have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Atlanta Constitution, San Diego Union, Oakland Tribune, Sacramento Bee, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Chicago Tribune, Salt Lake City Tribune, Pittsburgh Press, and LaOpinión. Mr. Ellis authors a regular quarterly column on Federal Sentencing for the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Magazine.

He has served as a member of the editorial board of the Criminal Practice Manual published by the Bureau of National Affairs Inc.

A former law professor and federal law clerk to two federal judges, Mr. Ellis is a 1967 graduate of Villanova University School of Law and an editor of the Villanova Law Review.

Click here for Mr. Ellis’ Published Articles.

Click here for Media Interviews with Mr. Ellis.

Click here for Press.

Click here for Full Curriculum Vitae.

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