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Monica R. Shah

Picture of Monica R. Shah

Partner Monica Shah focuses her litigation practice on criminal defense, employment, and Title IX matters. She has successfully handled complicated and highly-contested cases from the initial stages of investigation and discovery through trial and appeals. In the last two years, she served as lead counsel and successfully litigated and settled two cases against major universities where she represented clients who had experienced gender discrimination and sexual harassment, and she won a nearly $10.9 million jury verdict on behalf of her client in a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the City of Boston, a verdict she defended in the appeals court last year.

Monica is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and was selected for the 2018 Top Women of Law list by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. In 2016, Monica was selected to the Rising Stars list by Super Lawyers . She has also been awarded the highest possible rating for professional excellence in litigation – AV Preeminent – by Martindale-Hubbell.

Criminal Defense

Monica has a broad criminal defense practice that includes trial and appellate matters in both state and federal courts. She represents clients facing a full range of misdemeanor and felony charges and has represented clients on various matters ranging from murder, rape and sexual assault, drug possession and conspiracy, money laundering, obstruction of justice, bribery of a public official, tax fraud and other white-collar crimes, and foreign extradition.

Monica also serves on the federal Criminal Justice Act (CJA) panel to represent indigent federal defendants in the Boston federal district courts.

Monica advocates tirelessly on behalf of her clients to protect their rights and achieve successful results for them. For example, in a first-degree murder case in which she was co-counsel, Monica secured dismissal of the indictment because the prosecutor introduced highly prejudicial evidence to the grand jury. In a case involving drug possession on federal property, she obtained a dismissal of the criminal charges resulting in only a civil ticket. In a federal extradition case, Monica secured bail and a stay of extradition for a client facing attempted murder charges in the United Kingdom, a highly exceptional result given that bail and stays are rarely granted in extradition cases. In many other cases, she has helped clients get their charges reduced or dismissed altogether.

Employment Law and Other Civil Cases

Monica’s civil practice focuses on employment law, where she advocates for employees whose rights have been violated in the workplace. She has represented clients with claims of discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, FMLA, wage and hour laws, and whistleblower protection laws. In addition to counseling clients on these complex issues, she routinely litigates for them in state and federal courts, and before the MCAD and EEOC. Monica also reviews executive contracts and negotiates separation or severance agreements, including advising on complex issues such as non-compete provisions, trade secrets, and stock option transfers. She has worked on behalf of executives and professionals in a variety of industries, including finance, law, higher education, government, marketing/advertising, healthcare and biotech. Monica also has represented professionals, including physicians, nurses, and physical therapists, in licensing board proceedings and hearings.

Monica’s creative legal thinking and aggressive approach to her employment cases has resulted in substantial verdict and settlements on behalf of her clients. Monica won a nearly $10.9 million verdict at trial for her client, a longtime employee of the City of Boston who experienced race discrimination and retaliation. In a federal case, Monica secured her client’s reinstatement to a promoted position and a significant monetary settlement against the Department of Correction for gender discrimination, equal pay, wage and hour, disability, and FMLA claims. In both state and federal cases, she has obtained numerous significant settlements in discrimination matters, including many on behalf of sexual harassment victims with claims of quid pro quo harassment or sexually hostile work environments. Monica is the lead author of an MCLE guide on Preventing & Handling Sexual Harassment Claims in the #MeToo Era.

Using her strong litigation background, Monica has also successfully advocated for her clients in a variety of other civil matters, including representing both individuals and corporations in business disputes involving potential or pending litigation.

Campus Discipline and Title IX

Monica also represents students involved in academic misconduct, sexual assault, and sexual harassment in disciplinary proceedings at colleges and universities around the country. She has helped both complainants and respondents navigate the often-confusing disciplinary procedures at their institutions, including Title IX investigations and hearings. She has achieved favorable findings for her clients and has brought litigation on her clients’ behalf. She has successfully resolved cases both before and after litigation.

Other Experience

Outside her firm work, Monica has also done pro bono work for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Lawyers for Civil Rights, and she co-chairs the Amicus Committee for the Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association. Monica serves on the Board of Directors of Lawyers for Civil Rights and is a member of the Boston Bar Association's Criminal Law Steering Committee. She has lectured on employment law for the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc. and for the South Asian Bar Association’s renowned Know Your Rights program, which provides legal information to communities in the greater Boston area. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Cradles to Crayons, a Boston-based organization that provides essential clothing, books, and toys for low-income children.

Prior to joining the firm, Monica was an associate at the firm Neufeld, Scheck & Brustin, LLP where she helped secure significant verdicts and settlements for victims of wrongful convictions and police misconduct in civil rights actions filed in federal and state courts around the country.

At Columbia Law School, Monica was a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar and an Articles Editor on the Columbia Law Review. She also interned at several civil rights and indigent defender organizations, including the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund, Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem, and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.


J.D., Columbia Law School, 2005

B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 2000
cum laude

Bar & Court Admissions State Bar of Massachusetts
State Bar of New York
U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts
U.S. District Court, EDNY
U.S. District Court, WDNY
U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
  • Judge Allyne R. Ross, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 2005-2006

Monica R. Shah, Why Desi Women Earn Less Than Desi Men. News India Times (Apr. 22, 2016).

Emma Quinn-Judge & Monica R. Shah, With ‘Laltaprasad’ case, SJC on verge of ‘momentous decision’Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (Apr. 1, 2016).

Harvey A. Silverglate & Monica R. Shah, The Degradation of the “Void for Vagueness” Doctrine: Reversing Convictions While Saving the Unfathomable “Honest Services Fraud” Statute, 2009-2010 CATO SUP. CT. REV. 201 (2010).

Monica R. Shah, Note, The Case for a Statutory Suppression Remedy to Regulate Illegal Private Party Searches in Cyberspace, 105 COLUM. L. REV. 250 (2005).

Professional Affiliations

Boston Bar Association

Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association

National Employment Lawyers Association

Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston

Women's Bar Association

Legal Network for Gender Equity

Boston Bar Association's Criminal Law Steering Committee

Lawyers for Civil Rights Board of Directors

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 Law in April 2018 to get help for my son on an education-related matter. We worked primarily with Zoraida Fernandez, an Associate, and when needed met with Ruth O'Meara-Costello, a Partner. Zoraida was excellent. The whole process was emotionally exhausting and depressing and Zoraida was the only bright light in all of it... Nancy O.
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.