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Public defender fuses love of music with charity

Nicole Khoury is not one to sit on the sidelines of life. During the day, Khoury is a criminal defense lawyer and part-time public defender in the Toledo area. After hours, you might find her performing with her band or raising money for families with autistic children.

Nicole Khoury“I’m a doer,” Khoury said. “I like getting down in the trenches. I may be tough when working with murderers, but that toughness makes it easy for me to do all of the legwork needed to run a charity on a dime.”

Fusing her love of music with a passion for helping Toledo area families struggling with the financial cost of treatment for their autistic children, Khoury founded Project iAm in 2008. With annual Acoustics for Autism concerts and other fundraising events, the charity has distributed more than $50,000. She points out, “These families want to do whatever it takes to help their children, and they shouldn’t have to worry about the cost. That’s what this organization is all about.”


Because of her charitable work, Khoury recently received the Ohio State Bar Foundation’s Community Service Award for Attorneys 40 and Under for the Ohio State Bar Association’s District 4, which includes Lucas County. “I don’t expect any accolades for what I do, it’s not why I do it, but I’m so grateful to my peers—especially Michelle Kranz who nominated me—for the recognition and validation,” she said of the honor. Khoury credits community volunteers for the success of Project iAm.


Khoury has been a member of the OSBA since 2002, after graduating from the University of Toledo with her law degree. She cites her experience on the criminal defense team in the 2006 murder trial of Father Gerald Robinson as the case that molded her as a lawyer, but it’s the lesser known cases that she finds most rewarding. “I actually cried in court the other day when a client’s probation was terminated successfully,” Khoury said. “Some of my difficult clients whose rehabilitation seemed in doubt are now doing well. When you’ve had a part in that, it feels awesome.”


As an escape from her hectic schedule, Khoury performs as lead singer and guitarist for the cover band, Arctic Clam. She offered, “It’s amazing how many lawyers are musicians and doing their thing in Toledo. I’m always meeting new people during the gigs and it’s a great way to network.”

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