Tolu Nelms

First Assistant Public Defender


Tolu Nelms, First Assistant Public Defender, received her J.D. from South Texas College of Law in May of 2006. She started her career as a prosecutor at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office where she worked from 2006 to 2012. After leaving the District Attorney’s Office, she spent several years as a corporate attorney for a multi-national oil and gas company. Mrs. Nelms later resigned from her position in corporate America to pursue a career in criminal defense. Specifically, she became a private practice criminal defense attorney, providing zealous representation to indigent clients. She then joined the Harris County Public Defender’s office (“PDO”) and eventually became an Assistant Chief (Team Lead) in the Felony Trial Division. Mrs. Nelms also served as the Legal Director for the Harris County Office of Managed Assigned Counsel, before re-joining the PDO as the First Assistant Public Defender.

Mrs. Nelms has tried numerous felony and misdemeanor cases both as a prosecutor and as a criminal defense attorney. In addition to being a member of various legal organizations, she currently serves on the State Bar of Texas Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters Committee and as a Co-Chair for WE WILL, a non-profit that seeks to access, educate, and inspire high-achieving but underserved young women about careers in law.