Nicola Henry-Taylor was born in a working-class community in South London, England and raised by her single Jamaican mother. When she was a child, they left London to live in St. Andrews, Parish, Jamaica before joining her maternal grandparents in the diverse neighborhood of Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY at age seven. For a year, Nicola’s mother worked in New Jersey as a nanny, returning on weekends so that she could create a path to citizenship for her daughter.
Growing up amid the crime, poverty and crack epidemic of New York City in the eighties, Nicola immersed herself in academics. Defying expectations typical of the time, when most girls were encouraged to pursue teaching, acting, or nursing, Nicola told her classmates she wanted to be a lawyer. She became an exceptional scholar and student leader at Jackie Robinson Intermediate School and at the John Jay High School for Criminal Justice.
At 17, she enrolled at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania with a Board of Governor’s full tuition scholarship. Nicola was active on campus, and she spent a summer studying English History at Oxford in London. After graduating Slippery Rock with honors, she enrolled as a first-generation law student at Duquesne University School of Law in 1993.
Nicola worked for the Honorable Justin M. Johnson of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. In 1996, she was hired by the Honorable Charles R. Alexander of the Clarion County Court of Common Pleas Later, she clerked for The Honorable Thomas Doerr. Nicola became Assistant District Attorney for Allegheny County in 2001, where she ran the county’s Mental Health Court. This same year, she became a naturalized American citizen.
In 2007 Nicola left the DA’s office and joined the firm of K & L Gates for three years before starting her own private practice in 2010. Her firm focuses on all areas of family law and criminal law, serving a diverse clientele largely including individuals struggling with mental health issues, financial crises, and addiction.
As a black woman, an immigrant and an adoptive mom, Nicola brings underrepresented perspectives to her work. She has been a champion for diversity and inclusion throughout her career. Nicola serves as the Diversity Director for Duquesne University School of Law, is a Commissioner on the Allegheny County Human Relations Commission and a member of the newly formed Allegheny County Bar Association Ad hoc Committee to Examine Police Use of Force and Court Rules for Bail, Probation, and Incarceration. Protecting families and reform of the criminal justice system is a lifelong mission for her.
She has been married to Robert Duane Taylor since 1999. They live with their two children, Madison and Wesley in the North Hills of Pittsburgh.