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Norman Zalkind

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Norman Zalkind, the founding partner of the firm, has tried over 120 cases before a jury, including many high-profile cases. Norman focuses his practice on criminal defense, including murder cases, white-collar criminal defense, and other serious felony cases in federal and state courts across the Commonwealth. Norman also has a nationwide practice representing students accused of sexual assault and other disciplinary misconduct. His civil practice includes business litigation.

Norman is recognized by Boston Magazine as a Super Lawyer”, maintains the highest possible rating by Martindale Hubbell, and is listed in Best Lawyers in America for both white collar and non-white collar criminal defense, a recognition he has been awarded for 27 consecutive years. In 2013, Norman received the Balliro Award from the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in recognition of a lifetime of dedication and commitment to the rights of the accused. He has received the Champion of Liberty Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In 1995, he received recognition from the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for extraordinary commitment to protecting the rights and liberties of those who stand criminally accused.

Criminal Defense

Norman has won numerous federal and state jury trials. He is a tireless champion for the rights of the accused and is passionate about giving his clients the best defense possible.

Norman’s criminal cases involve a wide range of offenses, such as murder (including death penalty cases), drug crimes, terrorism, extortion, bank robbery, sex crimes, tax evasion, arson, telemarketing fraud, and Medicaid and securities fraud. He practices in both state and federal courts and handles cases involving all felony and misdemeanor offenses, as well as related matters like federal extradition.

Norman’s record in trying the most serious cases illustrates his history of success. In about sixty-five percent of 32 murder trials Norman’s clients have either been completely acquitted or have received substantially reduced verdicts. In 2010, Norman obtained an acquittal of all charges for a man accused of first-degree murder where the prosecution’s case included an alleged eyewitness to the crime. Norman has twice obtained not guilty verdicts for clients asserting insanity defenses, even though such cases are notoriously difficult to win. In appropriate cases Norman has convinced prosecutors to reduce charges and to allow clients to plead to manslaughter, which avoids the risk of life imprisonment. He has also won appeals in murder cases and is experienced at preserving the issues at trial that allow defendants to successfully appeal if convicted. He has most recently obtained a dismissal in an armed robbery and kidnapping case, and a continuance without a finding in a serious sex case.

Norman has similarly obtained not guilty verdicts in a number of other serious criminal cases, including white collar cases. For instance, he has obtained not guilty verdicts in a case in which a client was charged with telemarketing fraud and in a major federal racketeering case involving the alleged assassin in multiple gang-related shootings. He also obtained a not guilty verdict in a federal tax case against a CEO. Norman has represented hundreds of defendants charged with drug crimes involving multiple tons of illegal drugs. He has won multiple motions to suppress evidence and has won reduced sentences for clients facing decades in prison.

Norman has also secured excellent results for clients in plea negotiations, including the lead defendant in a multi-defendant federal drug case, who received a 5-year sentence even though the relevant sentencing guideline called for 210 to 260 months in prison. Similarly, for a client facing federal Medicaid fraud charges involving $20 million, Norman obtained a probationary sentence for his client on the eve of trial. On behalf of a client facing federal immigration fraud charges that would normally lead to incarceration, Norman successfully negotiated for probation for his client.

Students’ Rights and Campus Misconduct

Norman believes strongly in students’ and faculty rights and has for years represented students and faculty accused of all types of misconduct on campus, including plagiarism, cheating on tests, sexual assault, and even embezzlement. He brings his wealth of experience with the criminal law to these matters, which intersect with the criminal justice system in particularly serious cases.

Norman has handled numerous cases for students facing sexual assault charges, both during internal college and university investigations and disciplinary proceedings and in the criminal justice system. Norman crafts an individual strategy for each case that considers the factual allegations, the relationship between the students involved, and the disciplinary policies and procedures of the college or university. His strategic approach to these cases has been extremely successful and he has frequently been able to defeat or mitigate the charges.

Norman has worked on many cases where the student has been cleared of wrongdoing or received reduced sanctions. For example, in one sexual assault case, Norman assisted an undergraduate to prepare for a hearing – including preparing a written statement and teaching the student how to cross-examine witnesses – after which the student was found not responsible for assault. In a student theft case, Norman assisted the student in preparing the case and argued the case to the university’s general counsel, demonstrating that the school did not have proof to support its case. The school came to the same conclusion, finding the student not responsible for theft. In a case where a student was charged with academic dishonesty, Norman worked with the student to craft a memorandum accepting responsibility for the action, but by highlighting mitigating issues they were able to keep the sanction to a minimum.

Civil Litigation

Norman has an equally broad range of experience litigating civil cases.

Norman has represented plaintiffs and defendants in discrimination, libel, divorce and business litigation cases, including securities litigation. In the case of a client involved in a complicated commercial litigation dispute, Norman won a favorable settlement for the client after taking the case to arbitration. In an employment case, Norman and his partner, Inga Bernstein, won a $7.6 million verdict in a discrimination and retaliation case against the MBTA.

Other Experience

Norman taught criminal trial practice at Northeastern University Law School from 1971 to 1987, and he has lectured at Harvard Law School, Boston University School of Law, and Yale Law School.


J.D., Boston University Law School, 1963

B.A., Boston College, 1960

Bar and Court Admissions Commonwealth of Massachusetts
U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts
U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit
U.S. Supreme Court
Professional Affiliations

Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Boston Bar Association


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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.