Phil Telfeyan


Equal Justice Under Law’s founding director began the organization in 2014 with the goal of ending inequality in our justice system. Phil has helped build Equal Justice Under Law into an aggressive agent of legal reform, fighting to end America’s money bail system, pushing for an end to the war on drugs, striving to limit excessive collateral consequences of criminal convictions, and advocating on behalf of those experiencing poverty. An experienced trial and appellate lawyer, he directly litigates or supervises much of the organization’s legal work.

Prior to founding Equal Justice Under Law, Phil served as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice for five years, where he specialized in employment discrimination and immigrants’ rights, litigated complex pattern-or-practice cases on behalf of victims of discrimination, and successfully settled the three largest cases in his section’s history.  Before that, he clerked for the Honorable Janice Brown on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Phil also served as Director of the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter where he oversaw the health and safety of 24 homeless guests per night, advocated on behalf of guests for permanent housing, supervised a volunteer staff of 300, and managed a $50,000 yearly budget.

Phil earned both a bachelor’s degree (in Philosophy and Government) and a law degree from Harvard University.  During law school, Phil was a Notes Editor on the Harvard Law Review, winner of the Williston Contracts Competition, and the National Champion of the American Bar Association’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition.  He was born and raised in Sacramento, California, where his parents still live.



Phil is also a regional board member for UNICEF as well as a charity magician.


In addition to his legal career, Phil spends his time in Washington volunteering throughout the community, including weekly commitments serving individuals experiencing homelessness at a local food kitchen, helping run a mentoring program for public high school and middle school students, and working with individuals committed for mental health treatment.  He enjoys barefoot running, card games, bowling, hiking, friendship, conversation, and philosophy.  He has also toured and photographed every state capitol building and every National Park in the United States.