Lisa Newman-Polk started her advocacy career as a legal intern with the Federal Defenders of Montana and then as a law clerk for the Honorable William Leaphart of the Montana Supreme Court. In 2006, she joined the Public Defender Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services as a staff attorney where she represented hundreds of individuals in district and superior courts on misdemeanor and felony charges.
Dismayed by the overwhelming number of individuals prosecuted in the criminal justice system who suffer from traumatic childhoods and mental health disorders, such as substance use disorder, Lisa decided to pursue a career in clinical social work, earning a masters from Boston College. As a clinician, Lisa worked as an outpatient therapist providing addiction treatment to men and women on probation and parole, and then as a mental health clinician at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, the men's maximum security prison in Massachusetts.
In 2014, Lisa returned to the practice of law with the public defender office, working in the district courts and drug courts; in 2017, she left the public defender office to pursue several advocacy projects. Currently, her law practice primarily focuses on representing juvenile lifers at parole hearings and special litigation in criminal cases involving drug addiction.
Lisa is an outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform as it relates to the "war on drugs" and prison conditions. She is often a featured speaker on criminal justices issues, and has been a guest on WBUR discussing prison mental health conditions. She is on the Board of Directors for Prisoners' Legal Services and is the founder of EPIC (Ex-Prisoner Integration Center), a residence (in development) that will be dedicated to healing, wellness, and successful integration of former prisoners into the community.
Lisa earned a B.A. from Columbia University, a J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law, and an M.S.W. from Boston College.