41 State St., Suite M112
Albany, NY  12207
(518) 438-8046

Sophia Heller, Acting Managing Attorney. Sophia joined PLS in 2011 after graduating from Georgetown Law. As a student attorney, Sophia represented indigent defendants facing trial for misdemeanor cases in D.C. Superior Court, and those convicted of crime in parole and probation hearings. She also served as an Executive Editor of the Georgetown Journal on Legal Ethics. Prior to law school, Sophia earned a B.F.A. in film and a Ph.D. in mythology. Her dissertation, The Absence of Myth, was published by SUNY Press in 2005. Sophia was also a contestant on NPR’s “Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me!” and proudly uses Carl Kassell’s recorded greeting on her voicemail to this day.

Chris Walker, Legal Secretary. Chris started as Legal Secretary at PLS’ Albany Office in June of 2019. He graduated with an Associates of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies from Dutchess Community College in 2019 and has also studied classical piano. He enjoys advocacy, traveling, reading, film, stand-up comedy, and music.

James Bogin, Senior Supervising Attorney. Mr. Bogin graduated from Cornell Law School in 1984, and was a staff attorney at North Country Legal Services from 1985 to 1987. In 1987 Mr. Bogin joined the Albany office of PLS as a Staff Attorney.  Between 1994 and 2000 Mr. Bogin worked at times as a Staff Attorney and at times as Managing Attorney of the Albany office. He served as the Managing Attorney of the office continuously from 2000 - 2017.

Mary Cipriano-Walter, Supervisor, Family Matters Unit & Staff Attorney. Mary became a staff attorney in the Albany Office of PLS in January 2015. Before becoming a staff attorney, Mary interned at the Albany office from June 2013 through April 2014. Mary is a graduate of Albany Law School, where she studied civil rights law and served as the project director of the Pro Bono Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project.

Matthew McGowan, Staff Attorney. Matt joined the Albany office of PLS as a staff attorney in 2013. His experience in the fields of prisoners’ rights and public interest advocacy includes fulltime internships with Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, the Legal Aid Society’s Civil Law Reform Unit, and the AIDS Legal Referral Panel. He also served as a judicial intern for the Hon. Shirley S. Abrahamson, Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, where he completed clinical programs in both Prisoners’ Rights and Poverty Law and Practice.

Sydney Tarzwell, Staff Attorney. Sydney (Syd) joined the Albany office as a staff attorney in December 2017. Syd comes to PLS after spending 6+ years representing Alaska Native Tribes in child welfare litigation. In Alaska she also worked with the Northern Justice Project to implement a prisoners’ rights practice, addressing issues such as Alaska’s use of administrative segregation for juveniles caught up in the adult criminal system and the denial of parole to prisoners with guilty but mentally ill verdicts. Syd isn’t totally new to New York State practice: After graduating from Columbia Law School and then clerking in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, she was a Skadden Fellow/Staff Attorney and then Project Managing Director at Urban Justice Center, Peter Cicchino Youth Project in NYC, where she focused on the legal needs of LGBTQQ homeless youth. 

Nicole Jolicoeur, Staff Attorney. Nicole became a staff attorney in the Albany Office of PLS in April of 2019.  After law school, Nicole worked at the NYS Office of Mental Health as an Excelsior Fellow. As a law student, Nicole focused her upper level coursework on mental health law and worked as a law student attorney in the New York Law School Civil Rights Clinic. Following her interests in advocacy, Nicole interned at the Criminal Appeals Bureau of the Legal Aid Society and the Urban Justice Center, Mental Health Project. While interning at UJC MHP, Nicole worked on mental health reform for those incarcerated at Rikers Island. Prior to law school, Nicole graduated from Hofstra University with a B.A. in Psychology and Criminology, where she had the opportunity to intern at Nassau County Probation in the Mental Health Unit. During her senior year, Nicole interviewed and administered a battery of tests to inpatients and outpatients diagnosed with schizophrenia and used the data to complete an honors thesis regarding symptom severity and the impact of self-efficacy beliefs on suicide attempts.