When Andrew Stengel ’12 proclaims, “The best defense is a good offense,” he speaks from the solid ground of experience on both sides of the criminal courtroom.
A former Manhattan assistant district attorney, Stengel now defends clients accused of misdemeanors and felonies in New York City, Westchester, Nassau and the surrounding counties — “all the types of cases that I prosecuted,” he explained.
Born in Manhattan and raised on Long Island, Stengel earned his B.A. in politics at Brandeis University.
He lived in downtown Albany while enrolled at Albany Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Albany Government Law Review.
As Manhattan ADA, “I prosecuted a range of crimes,” said Stengel, specifically listing “driving while intoxicated, assault, domestic violence cases, forcible touching/sex offenses, larceny, weapons possession, and narcotics and marijuana possession and sale.” He noted, “I appeared in court for thousands of hours, arraigning thousands of defendants and appearing in all-purpose court parts where I argued thousands of oral motions.” He handled an estimated 1,000 cases from 2012 to 2014.
Stengel said he found the work fulfilling.
“Professor Vin Bonventre showed me a love of criminal law.”
“The work of a prosecutor is challenging,” he maintained. “As a prosecutor, you are making decisions that impact people’s lives in significant ways — whether or not to offer a non-criminal disposition or for how long somebody’s liberty will be taken away for a period of incarceration.”
He has since turned his experience and skills to serve defendants.
“I launched a solo practice in January 2015,” said Stengel, noting his web address as stengellaw.com.
His office is in Manhattan and he resides in Brooklyn.
“I would not be where I am today without three people (at Albany Law School),” Stengel said. “First, Professor Vin Bonventre showed me a love of criminal law; his mantra that criminal law is the real stuff is 100 percent true.
"Second, Renee Merges, legendary Albany County assistant district attorney, oversaw my work as an intern for that office during two semesters and one summer where I prosecuted a driving while intoxicated defendant before a jury in town court and obtained a conviction.
"Third, Professor Matthew Alpern, former capital defender and criminal trial practice professor, taught me everything I needed to know as a practicing criminal lawyer, most importantly, the art of cross-examination.”