Ms. Smalls is an accomplished leader with experience in law, politics, government and philanthropy. Her clients benefit from her strategic advice and legal counsel on complex legal, policy, and regulatory matters. Smalls’ service in two presidential administrations gives her unique insight into government and politics. Smalls recently served as the Monitor of a tier-one global financial institution having been appointed to that position by the New York State Department of Financial Services.
Smalls is a strategic advisor and multi-disciplinary leader with experience across law, government, politics, and philanthropy. Her clients turn to her for her independent sensibility and her trusted and strategic advice. In 2021, Smalls was named to the inaugural edition of "Northeast Trailblazers" by the American Lawyer, and recognized by Crain's New York Business as a "Notable Women in Law" , the National Black Lawyers as one of their Top 100 lawyers, and the Legal 500 in Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense. Smalls was featured as a "Power Player" in government and politics by City & State New York and the Amsterdam News in 2020.
In her private practice, she has fought for undocumented immigrants, victims of financial crime, and voters facing intimidation. Smalls litigates high-stakes matters, successfully securing two TROs, one against the Trump Campaign and one in 2021 against the City of New York. Previous representations include serving as co-lead counsel for one of the largest Fair Labor Standards Act class actions on record, representing more than 90,000 au pairs for wage fixing and violations of federal, state and minimum wage. She also served as counsel for the class of investors in two of the largest “feeder funds” that financed Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
Her knowledge of the intersection of law and politics comes from serving, first, in the Clinton Administration as assistant to the White House Chief of Staff and as a liaison on policy and budget issues for the District of Columbia, and the Chief Regulatory Officer at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Obama Administration. In the 2008 election cycle, Dawn served as a regional political director for the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign, covering six states, and in the general election as the New York political director for then-Sen. Barack Obama.
In addition to her private practice, Ms. Smalls is a recognized civic leader. She serves on the board of the Roosevelt Institute, a think tank and campus network that serves as the non-profit partner to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York. She also serves on the Board of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a non-profit farm and educational center whose mission is to shape an ecological food culture that centers farmers and their stewardship of the land to amplify their success. Previously, Smalls served on the Board of the American Constitution Society, the nation’s leading progressive legal organization, from 2015 – 2021.
As a commissioner of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics, Smalls provided oversight to the state agency tasked with ensuring that state elected officials and lobbyists comply with the state’s ethics and lobbying laws and regulations. Previously, Ms. Smalls served as the Secretary of the New York City Bar’s Ethics Committee.
Ms. Smalls also worked for the Open Society Foundations and the Ford Foundation, two of the largest philanthropies in the world, managing approximately $40 million of grants promoting and increasing civic engagement, political reform, and grassroots activism. Ms. Smalls is actively engaged in politics, advising candidates on the local, state and federal level.