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. She recently served as the Monitor of a tier-one global financial institution. 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. Her service in two presidential administrations gives her unique insight into government and politics, while her more recent role as a commissioner of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics places her at the forefront of lobbying and ethics law.
Ms. Smalls’ clients turn to her for her independent sensibility, and her trusted and strategic advice. In her private practice, she has fought for undocumented immigrants, victims of financial crime and voters facing intimidation. As a commissioner of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics, she 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.
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 then as executive secretary of 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 as a national board member of the American Constitution Society, the nation’s leading progressive legal organization, with more than 200 student and lawyer chapters in almost every state and on most law school campuses. Before serving on the board, Ms. Smalls co-founded the student chapter at Stanford Law School and upon graduation, she co-founded the New York Lawyer Chapter to provide a space for progressive lawyers in New York City to meet and exchange ideas about how to support a progressive agenda in the law. She also 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.
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.
Crain’s New York Business named Ms. Smalls a 2021 “Notable Women in Law.” In 2020, City & State New York and The Amsterdam News also featured her as a “Power Player” in government and politics.