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Subodh Chandra

Founder and Managing Partner

A former federal prosecutor, law director for the City of Cleveland, and large-firm litigator, Subodh Chandra is The Chandra Law Firm LLC's founding and managing partner. His practice focuses on high-profile civil-rights litigation, along with white-collar-criminal defense and internal investigations.

Chandra is engaged for high-stakes litigation when reputations are on the line. His matters often have a crisis-communications, public-policy dimension. Examples include the police-shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland police—a key moment in the Black Lives Matter movement nationally resulting in a $6,000,000 settlement, the nearly $1,000,000 in settlements for 2016 Republican National Convention protestors, voting-rights litigation against various voter-suppression schemes by the Ohio Secretary of State, and the retaliation suit over sexual-harassment allegations that resulted in the resignation of Case Western Reserve University's law-school dean.

Before founding the firm, Chandra served as director of law for the city of Cleveland, a billion-dollar corporation. Chandra led the work of an 82-lawyer department with both criminal and civil divisions. He also sometimes served as Cleveland's acting mayor.

As Cleveland's general counsel, Chandra handled legal work in-house and slashed by nearly 90% spending on outside counsel, saving millions; moved vigorously through in-house investigations to clean up internal corruption; restored the department's reputation; and attracted top performers who helped make it Ohio's most diverse law firm. And his tough-minded, preventive approach reduced Cleveland's liability exposure and payments significantly.

Previously, as federal prosecutor, Chandra successfully prosecuted healthcare fraud and corruption—winning a commendation from FBI director Robert Mueller for "demonstrated excellence" as well as from the special agent in charge of the FBI's Cleveland office. Chandra also prosecuted tax fraud, bank fraud, and other economic crimes.

Before that, Chandra served as a litigator in large law firms in both Cleveland and Los Angeles. Chandra defended the cities of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills against high-profile allegations of police misconduct, and represented large media companies and motion-picture studios. Some of his more memorable work included defending the television show "Hard Copy" against libel charges by the singer Michael Jackson.

Chandra began his legal career as special presidential counsel at the American Bar Association.

Chandra is a graduate of the Yale Law School, where he was executive editor of the Yale Law & Policy Review. He also graduated with honors and distinction from Stanford University, which awarded him the John Gardner Fellowship to work as a protégé of Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste.

Chandra has served as Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, teaching appellate practice and legal ethics. He has also served as a legal-ethics and attorneys' fees expert in litigation.

Long active in assisting people who aspire to public service, Chandra was also a 2006 candidate for Ohio Attorney General, winning most newspaper endorsements. The Cincinnati Enquirer called Chandra "the best candidate Ohio Democrats have produced in years." Chandra was also one of the earliest supporters of President Barack H. Obama, serving on his National Finance Committee, on the national Asian-American advisory committee, and as an Obama delegate to and deputy whip of the Ohio delegation at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Civically active, Chandra in 2021 was the principal author—on behalf of police-misconduct victims' families—of the city of Cleveland charter amendment that effects greater civilian disciplinary and policy oversight over Cleveland police, and requires that a civilian oversight body maintain Brady evidence records of police officers who have been dishonest. Voters adopted the reform initiative, a model for the nation, overwhelmingly.

Chandra is a longtime member, and serves as co-vice chair, of the Special Ohio Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Chandra is admitted to practice law in Ohio, California, and New Mexico (inactive), and in federal courts around the country.

Based on the review of his peers, he has been included in Best Lawyers® in America for civil rights and Ohio Super Lawyers®. Under his leadership, Chandra Law has been peer-review included in U.S. News and World Reports's Best Law Firms in America for Civil Rights. And he was named 2022 Lawyer of the Year in Civil Rights by Best Lawyers® in America.

Chandra's work is featured in the documentaries Free for All! (2008), PAY 2 PLAY: Democracy's High Stakes (2014), and 137 Shots (Netflix 2021).

Chandra and his wife are the proud parents of triplet sons.


Founding and managing partner, The Chandra Law Firm LLC (2005–present)

Director of Law and Prosecuting Attorney, City of Cleveland (2002–05)

Assistant U.S. Attorney, Office of the U.S. Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Cleveland, Ohio (1999–2002)

Litigator, Thompson Hine & Flory (1997–99)

Litigator, Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil, & Shapiro, Los Angeles, CA (1996–97)

Special president counsel, American Bar Association, Albuquerque, NM (1994–96)

Policy Analyst, Office of Governor David M. Walters (1991)

Assistant Director for Internnational Affairs, Participation 2000 (political action committee of Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste, Columbus, OH (1990–91)

Bar Admissions

New Mexico (Inactive)


2021 - Attorneys’ Fees Petitions in Fee-Shifting Cases, including Civil Rights and Employment, Legal Aid organizations in OH

2021 - Leveraging Media Strategically and Ethically, for Your Clients’ Cases and Causes, Legal Aid organizations in OH

2021 - Disqualifying Opposing Counsel Over Improper Joint Representations, Legal Aid organizations in OH

2021 Malicious Prosecutions Under Section 1983 and Ohio Law, Legal Aid organizations in OH

2021 - First Amendment Retaliation, Interference with Civil Rights, and Dereliction of Duty, Legal Aid organizations in OH

2021 Ohio Civil Liability for Criminal Acts and Intimidation, Legal Aid organizations in OH

2021 - How to Write a Garner-Style Deep Issue, Legal Aid organizations in OH

2021 - How to Spot a Good Civil-Rights Case—Or a Bad One, Legal Aid organizations in OH

2021 - Basics of Section 1983, Qualified Immunity, & Monell Liability, Legal Aid organizations in OH, WV, and MI (nat’l broadcast) (first of a half-year series on various civil-rights topics)

2021 - Strategic and Ethical Engagement with Media for Your Clients' Cases and Causes, Cleveland Employment Inn of Court

2021 - Strategic and Ethical Engagement with Media for Your Clients' Cases and Causes, Cleveland Employment Inn of Court

2020 - Disqualify! Holding Defense Counsel Accountable for Improper Joint Representations and Preserving the Integrity of the Proceedings, Cleveland Employment Lawyers Association Annual Seminar

2020 - Tamir Rice, Unjustified Police Violence—and the Free Pass of Qualified Immunity; American Constitutional Society

2020 - Employment-Litigator Besties: R.C 2307.60 (Civil Action for Damages for Criminal Act); and R.C. 2921.03 (Intimidation—false writings), Ohio Employment Lawyers Association Annual Seminar

2019 - Leveraging Media Ethically, for Your Clients' Cases and Causes, Cleveland Employment Lawyers Association Annual Seminar

2019 - Throwing the Case: How Prosecutors Gave Police Officers Special Treatment and Denied Tamir Rice's Family Equal Justice, Stanford Law School

2019 - Throwing the Case: How Prosecutors Gave Police Officers Special Treatment and Denied Tamir Rice's Family Equal Justice, Yale Law School

2016 - Impact of the New Federal Civil Rules Amendments—Plaintiffs' Bar's Perspective on the New Proportionality-in-Discovery Rule, Ohio State Bar Association Federal Courts & Practice Committee Bench Bar Conference

2016 - A Crime-Victim Advocate's Account of How Tamir Rice's Family was Denied Equal Justice, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association

2015 - R.C. 2921.03 Intimidation: The Fee-Shifting, Civil-Liability, Felony Statute Hidden in the Criminal Code that Should Be the Ohio Employment Plaintiff Lawyer's Best Friend, Cleveland Employment Lawyers Association

2014 -Trends in Challenges to Voting Rights Over the Last Decade and Projected Through 2016: Ohio As Ground Zero, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Central Regional Conference

2013 - Attorneys’ Fees in Employment and Civil-Rights Cases, Cleveland Employment Lawyers Association Annual Seminar (with Sandhya Gupta)

2013 - Inside View on Effectively Communicating Employment Issues with In-House Counsel, Cleveland Employment Inn of Court

2012 - Showcase Closing Argument: Lockhart v. Village of Woodmere, et al., Ohio State Bar Association Annual Convention

2010 - Professionalism in Litigation, 8th Annual Trial Advocacy Institute, National Institute for Trial Advocacy

2005 - Professionalism: Lessons From Game Theory, Cleveland Bar Association Annual Trial Advocacy Institute

2005 - Appellate Practice, taught while running moot-court program as distinguished practitioner-in-residence and adjunct professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Law

2005 - Professional Responsibility (Legal Ethics), taught as distinguished practitioner-in-residence and adjunct professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Law

2004 - Showcase federal appellate argument, International Municipal Lawyers Association Annual Convention

2003 - Spring Municipal Law Seminar, Cleveland Law Directors Association and Cleveland Bar Association Government Attorneys Section

2002 - Changing Trends in Juvenile Law (Volunteer Magistrate Judge program), Cleveland Bar Association

2000 - The Federal Healthcare Antickickback Statute, Office Of Inspector General: Compliance Guidance For Physician Practices and Stark II

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Ohio Special Advisory Committee

  • Member Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s Judicial Selection Committee

  • Former chair Cleveland Bar Association’s Diversity Action Committee

  • Former co-chair Cleveland Bar Association

  • Former Board of Trustees member Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association

  • Member International Network of Boutique Law Firms, Ohio Chapter President

  • Member of COVID-19 Bench-Bar Task Force of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Civil Subcommittee, and Mediation Subcommittee



Community Involvement

Founding chair of the 2008. non-profit Vote Early, Vote Big! program ("Souls to the Polls") to turn out African-American voters

Interviewed in the documentaries:

Litigation Percentage

100% of Practice Devoted to Litigation


J.D., Yale Law School, New Haven, Connecticut (1994)

Yale Law & Policy Review, Executive Editor

A.B., Stanford University with honors, and distinction in two departments (1989)

John Gardner Fellowship to work with Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste (1989–90)

Honors and Awards

Partial listing:

  • Recognition by FBI director Robert Mueller for "demonstrated excellence" in federal prosecutions
  • Special commendation from Special Agent in Charge of Cleveland's FBI Office

Past Employment Positions

  • City of Cleveland, Director of Law and Prosecuting Attorney, 2002–05

  • U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio. U.S. Department of Justice, Assistant U.S. Attorney

  • Thompson, Hine & Flory LLP, Cleveland, OH, Litigator

  • Christiansen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil & Shapiro, Los Angeles, CA, Litigator

  • American Bar Association, Albuquerque, NM, Special Presidential Counsel


Subodh Chandra and Sandhya Gupta, Legal Challenge to Voter-Suppression Law on Trivial Errors seeks Supreme Court Review, Civil Rights Insider — Federal Bar Association Civil Rights Section's Newsletter (Winter 2017)

Subodh Chandra and Sandhya Gupta, Sixth Circuit Reverses Decades-Old Fees-for-Fees Standard, Yields Immediate Results for Civil-Rights Plaintiffs, Civil Rights Insider — Federal Bar Association Civil Rights Section's Newsletter (Winter 2017)

Subodh Chandra, It could have been my immigrant father. A visiting uncle. Or me., India Abroad (Feb. 27, 2015)

Subodh Chandra, Charging Attorneys' Fees: Where Should the Line Be Drawn—A Plaintiff's Lawyer's Perspective, The Federal Lawyer (Jun. 2013)

Subodh Chandra, Welcome to America, Senator! The American Prospect (Aug. 23, 2006)

Subodh Chandra, Law Practice Management: The Reform Experience of the Cleveland Department of Law, Cleveland Bar Journal (Jan. 2005)

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