Inga S. Bernstein

Picture of Inga Bernstein

I am an experienced criminal defense and employment lawyer who fights for every client to be heard. For over 25 years, I have helped individuals prevail in the courtroom and in the workplace, defending their rights and fighting to even the playing field.

Practice Focus Criminal Defense

As your criminal defense attorney, I believe in holding the government’s feet to the fire, making sure the prosecution bears its burden of both proving its case and demonstrating that law enforcement did not violate your rights. I promise I will listen to you and dig into the details of your case in order to present the smartest and most effective defense possible.

I have a proven track record of winning cases and favorably resolving matters involving first-degree murder, murder in aid of racketeering, extortion, extortionate collection, racketeering, wire fraud, bank fraud, armed robbery, sexual assault, indecent assault and battery, OUI, drug offenses, criminal harassment, larceny, firearms offenses, domestic assault and battery, knowingly filing a false report of a crime, and conspiracy.

Examples of my victories include:

  • Obtained the dismissal of all charges against my client in a federal prosecution for extortion after several days of trial.
  • Obtained a not guilty verdict for my client in a murder case in which, as co-counsel, I conducted a ballistics analysis that demonstrated critical flaws in the prosecution’s evidence against all three defendants in the case. On appeal in the same case, I obtained a reversal of the one firearms charge on which my client had been convicted.
  • Convinced prosecutors not to pursue aggravated rape charges prior to indictment.
  • Won numerous suppression and other dispositive motions resulting in the dismissal and/or reduction of charges for my clients.
  • Represented people in post-conviction proceedings including at the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB), in civil forfeiture proceedings, habeas corpus petitions, and with issues related to incarceration, as well as in civil Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Harassment Prevention Order (HPO) actions.
  • Successfully petitioned for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.
  • Drafted a well-received amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Families Against Mandatory Minimums.
  • Served on the legal team that persuaded the Supreme Judicial Court to invalidate portions of the Sex Offender Registration Act on due process grounds.
Employment, Student and Academic Rights and Other Civil Rights

I am dedicated to helping employees assert their rights in the workplace. If you believe your workplace rights have been violated, I will bring to bear my knowledge and skills to achieve the best possible result for you through negotiation, counseling, and litigation, if necessary.

I represent clients in race, gender (including pay equity, promotion, and pregnancy-related matters), sexual orientation, sexual harassment, disability (including disability retirement, ADA, FMLA, and reasonable accommodation cases), age, and national origin discrimination cases and related retaliation matters. I regularly appear before administrative agencies including the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), where I have tried a number of cases through public hearing (administrative trial).

Additionally, I have represented numerous faculty members, administrators, and academic researchers in disputes with local colleges and universities, including those related to tenure, promotion, and discipline.

I have represented faculty and students in Title IX and related sexual misconduct cases.

Examples of my successes in civil matters include:

  • Represented the Chief Administrative Officer of the MBTA who faced retaliation after standing up for the rights of women and workers of color, ultimately winning a $7.6 million jury verdict, with partner Norman Zalkind.
  • Represented a female police officer who experienced sexual harassment and retaliation of male police officers and her union, winning a $2.2 million jury verdict.
  • Represented multiple clients through litigation, some to the eve of trial, ultimately securing highly favorable negotiated resolutions.
  • Secured many quiet victories for clients who were able to keep their jobs through my intervention or behind-the-scenes counsel.
Prior Experience

Before law school, I worked in civil rights enforcement, serving as the Assistant Director of the Boston Fair Housing Commission, and running the portion of that agency charged with enforcing federal, state, and city fair housing laws. I also worked for a regional non-profit housing organization where I ran a program that provided tenants and landlords with information about housing rights and responsibilities, and sought to assist low income people in avoiding or ending homelessness. In addition, I worked for many years as a volunteer community mediator and, for a time, was the director of a community mediation organization in Dorchester.

Professional Activities
  • Member, Federal Bar Association
  • Member, Boston Bar Association
  • Member, Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Panel member, federal Criminal Justice Act (CJA), representing indigent federal defendants in the Boston and Worcester federal district courts
Speaking & Publishing
  • Frequent lecturer, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc., Massachusetts Bar Association, and Boston Bar Association
  • Chair, Federal Court Civil Practice 2020, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education
  • Presenter, Sexual Misconduct Investigations in the #MeToo Era,” Boston Bar Association’s Higher Education Conference, 2018
  • Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
    • Top Women of Law Award (2020)
    • Up and Coming Lawyer Award (2003)
  • Best Lawyers in America
    • Criminal Defense: General Practice (2010 to the present)
    • Criminal Defense: White Collar (2021 - 2022)
    • Employment Law: Individuals (2011 to the present)
    • Lawyer of the Year, Boston Employment Law – Individuals (2015 & 2018)
  • Super Lawyers (2004 to the present)
    • Criminal Defense (2004 to the present)
    • Top 100 Lawyers (2019 to the present)
    • Top 50 Women Lawyers (2019 to the present)
  • Martindale-Hubbell Highest Possible Rating – AV Preeminent® (2002 – present)
  • Boston Magazine Top Lawyers List
    • Criminal Defense (2021)
Why I Became A Lawyer

I became a lawyer to fight for justice and fairness. When you are charged with a crime, the weight of the government is amassed against you, and you need a zealous advocate to ensure that your voice is heard and your rights are protected. I work to be that voice. Similarly, laws that protect workers from discrimination and other workplace unfairness are only meaningful when people can ensure compliance with those laws. I will stand up to unfairness and help secure legal and just resolutions.


J.D., Harvard Law School, cum laude, 1994

B.A., Wellesley College, magna cum laude, 1984

Bar & Court Admissions Commonwealth of Massachusetts
U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit
U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts
  • Judge Douglas P. Woodlock, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, 1994-1995
Professional Affiliations

Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association

Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar

National Employment Lawyers Association

Massachusetts Chapter of the Federal Bar Association

Justia Lawyer Rating
Super Lawyers
Martindale-Hubbell - AV Preeminent - Peer Rated For Highest Level Of Professional Excellence 2020
Recognized by Best Lawyers
Best Lawyers - Best Law Firms
Client Reviews
I hired Mr. Duncan to deal with a very sensitive issue that my daughter had. Since the first contact, I had a very good impression of him. He transmitted confidence and appeared to know exactly what to do. I called and emailed him many times, he was polite and comprehensible with the anxiety of a father and appeared to know every step to solve the case. I strongly recommend Mr. Duncan. Flavio Lajoia
If you are reading this review, it means either you or a family member is in trouble and needs immediate legal counsel. Please know your search can end right now because Zalkind, Duncan & Bernstein is the law firm to hire. They are honest, responsive, compassionate and have the experience and expertise to bring... Client
I contacted Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein to assist with a Title IX case. From our initial conversation, Naomi Shatz had a strong understanding of Title IX policies and conducted each step of the process with professionalism, honesty and a responsiveness that did not disappoint. Ms. Shatz displayed confidence and just as important, compassion when needed. Client
I worked with Emma Quinn-Judge and Monica Shah. And from my first contact on the phone, on to my first meeting in their office and during the trial, I found them and the firm's entire team to be a group of consummate legal professionals who are very knowledgeable, patient, dedicated, fair, honest and caring... Chantal C.
I am forever grateful to all the staff at this firm, but in particular, Ms. Shah, Mr. Zalkind and Mr. Silverglate. They represented my son who was being sought for extradition to Scotland. The case took years to fight, covering new legal ground, setting precedence. But each one of these legal eagles went above and beyond the duty of office... Suzanne D.