Tell us about yourself? What is your background?
I have a unique perspective on the criminal justice system. I began my legal career as a prosecutor in New York City. For over a decade, I tried violent felonies and conducted high-profile investigations and prosecutions of illegal drug and firearms traffickers. My life took a sharp turn when I found myself on the other side of the system, facing both criminal and civil charges.
After a long journey through the legal system as the accused, including working with paid prison consultants, I spent almost 10 months at FCI Danbury, followed by a month of home confinement. The paid consultants that my family hired accomplished almost nothing. That’s why I am dedicated to being by my clients’ sides every step of the way.
Before starting my legal career, I graduated from Wilton High School in Wilton, Connecticut. In 1997, I received a degree in Government from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, then a juris doctorate at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. My education, legal career, and experience as the accused have afforded me an appreciation of both sides of the criminal justice system.
My experience makes me an effective and compassionate advocate for those that face criminal charges and incarceration. It pushes me to ensure that every client and their family receives support, encouragement, and empathy during one of the most difficult times of their lives.
As a consultant, I do not replace a competent defense attorney. Instead, consultants like me can share our actual experience not through just one part of the criminal justice system but through the entire process. I am highly committed to this venture. It has become my passion, as I am tenacious in assisting those unprepared for the trauma of being the accused.
What made you start your advisory firm?
After experiencing the criminal justice system as the accused and while in FCI Danbury, I saw a need for reliable, supportive prison consultants to help incarcerated people get through the lengthy legal process and the time they may spend in prison. I also saw a deep need to prepare those incarcerated for what it takes to maintain the lives they must put on hold and find the support they need to plan for the future.
It is important to know I had witnessed many accused individuals enter Danbury totally unprepared. I saw the extra time it took them to adjust to the reality of their new life and the etiquette of prison life. I hired prison consultants myself, and none of them knew the legal and prison systems from both sides. I often found that my experience as a prosecutor provided me with a better road map of what I should expect than the counsel I received from my hired prison consultants.
This experience showed me a need for a consultant that was more empathetic to my individual experiences. Also, the available consulting services could not provide my family and friends with the information they needed to support me while I was incarcerated and to help them through the process. I envisioned a service that provides the insight that an incarcerated person’s family and loved ones need.
My observations regarding the need for better, more holistic, empathetic prison consultant services are not unique. None of my fellow incarcerated women at FCI Danbury felt that they received the type of services that they and their families needed from the prison consultants and advisors they hired. My goal in creating Liberty Advisors is to provide individuals facing federal investigation with a consultant who can help them understand the process, show them what to do at each stage, and bring some peace of mind to them and their loved ones during the extremely stressful process.
What types of services does Liberty Advisors offer and what do those involve?
We offer three primary types of services. We act as mitigation specialists, sentencing advocates, and prison consultants. Here’s how those services work.
A major component of Liberty Advisors is client care. We support our clients through visits, letters, phone calls, and approved communication with loved ones. As mitigation specialists, we provide direct support to defense attorneys and their clients with comprehensive pre-plea and pre-sentencing assistance and memoranda. We also write persuasive mitigation reports to support bail applications, plea requests, court advocacy, and dismissal motions for state and federal cases.
In federal cases, our mitigation experts address the statutory sentencing factors enumerated in section 3553(a). We conduct mitigation investigations, which include an exhaustive social history investigation through detailed interviews with clients, loved ones, and collateral witnesses such as teachers, neighbors, and care providers. Furthermore, we work in conjunction with defense teams. We can provide them with case consultation in which we conduct case reviews and participate in strategy sessions to help them explore theories of defense, themes and narratives, plea alternatives, and appropriate experts.
One of the first things I did when I got out of Danbury was to join the National Defender and Legal Aid Association and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as a non-legal member. I then got certified as a mitigation specialist through the National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates & Mitigation Specialists. This certification ensures that the work I perform as a mitigation specialist is in alignment with national standards.
When assisting defense attorneys in handling the sentencing of their clients, we design individualized sentencing reports, videos, and other supplementary materials. Our alternative sentencing proposals frequently include gathering client background information, identifying organizations in a client’s community that would benefit from the client’s unique abilities and strengths, substance abuse counseling, work-release, home confinement, and community conferment.
We assist defense counsel in preparing clients for sentencing or prison by developing personal and professional background information and materials highlighting a client’s history and character for submission to the probation officer and/or the Court. In addition, we coordinate character reference letters and testimonials and advise defense counsel on the pre-sentence investigation process and probation interview.
Critically, this means we review, analyze, and assess the draft Pre-Sentence Report (PSR). We also assist in preparing drafts and formal responses for the PSR. It is imperative to adequately address the accused as a whole person in the PSR, empower them to tell their story in their own words, and help them understand this is just one moment in their life. Once a designation is made, we counsel clients and their families in the practical, emotional, and psychological aspects of imprisonment.
What does a typical client look like for you?
A typical client is someone facing the gauntlet of the federal legal process, whether that is a federal investigation, trial, sentencing, prison, or re-entry. Many of our clients appreciate our client-centered bespoke consulting services. We have various ways we can meet our clients’ needs, such as FAQ sessions, preparation and expectation projects, and VIP concierge services.
Why is it important to engage Liberty Advisors?
One of the most important things for anyone facing the legal system or with a loved one who is going through it is having access to someone to whom you aren’t afraid to ask questions. We will work closely with your defense team and won’t interfere in your defense. We understand the different phases of the criminal process and the overlap with civil matters. Most importantly, we provide our clients with compassion, empathy, and knowledge.
What advice do you have for others?
Do your homework. The federal justice system is complicated and does not always make things easy for the accused. It is always better to be overprepared than underprepared and putting your future at risk
If you are considering hiring a prison consultant, work with someone who can genuinely assist you, your loved ones, and your defense team. Look for a consultant who understands the system and what it means to be incarcerated so you can get unbiased, informed guidance about what to expect.
Tara Lenich is the founder of Liberty Advisors, a provider of mitigation, prison consulting, and sentencing advocate services. Previously, she was a former prosecutor in New York for over a decade. She is a graduate of Colby College and Emory University School of Law. Tara can be reached at 347-673-0953 or at email@example.com.
Tara is a well-educated, aggressive, resourceful, goal-oriented individual, who brings her experiences both as a prosecutor as well as one who has experienced being the accused, and shares that knowledge for those that may be about to experience the criminal justice system similarly.
Tara lives in New England, near her family and is a dog lover, close with her family and friends, and has been described as a very good, understanding listener.
More info can be found at https://libertyadvisorsllc.com/