Woman serves as Pennsylvania governor’s lead attorney

Womens History

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we spotlight Denise Smyler, general counsel to Governor Tom Wolf, serving as his lead lawyer.

Smyler and her office represent 34 executive and independent agencies across the commonwealth. She has accomplished many firsts in her life and career. She’s the first female counsel to a Philadelphia prison commissioner, the first female counsel to a Philadelphia police commissioner, and the first African American and third woman to serve in her current role as general counsel, working with 500 in-house and dozens of outside attorneys.

“When I began here, we had five minority law firms registered. Now, we have 50,” Smyler said. “The governor’s been very supportive. Half of my deputies, I have a dozen women and more than half of my chief counsel are women, so there’s been some progress made, but in the entire legal community, we still have a long way to go.”

Smyler also served as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia.

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