Slotnick was born in The Bronx in 1939 to Orthodox Jewish Russian immigrants. He graduated with a B.A. from City College of the City University of New York, a J.D. from New York University Law School, and was admitted to the bar at age 21. After graduating from law school, Slotnick established his own practice in Manhattan. Slotnick specialized in criminal defense, and found clients by sitting in the front row of a court, waiting until the judges would say “Slotnick, the next client is yours.” From there, he started his own "boutique law firm" that eventually became Slotnick, Shapiro & Crocker.
Bernhard Goetz trial
During the 1980s, Slotnick defended Bernhard Goetz, who shot four would-be muggers on a New York City subway. Goetz was charged with attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment and several firearms offenses. The trial received national attention, and a Manhattan jury found Goetz not guilty of all charges except an illegal firearms possession count, for which he served two-thirds of a one-year sentence.
The New York Times attributed the victory to Slotnick’s “clever courtroom tactics,” noting that he “turned out to be a shrewder, more accomplished performer than the prosecutor, Gregory Waples.” In particular, Slotnick’s aggressive questioning of James Ramseur, one of the four shot by Goetz, caused Ramseur to react explosively, which resulted in Ramseur’s entire testimony being stricken from the record including negative statements Ramseur made about Goetz.
When later talking about the case, Slotnick said "I've had greater victories and I've had much more difficult cases to try, but for the public perception, for the public need, Goetz was important. Goetz was my public service case.”
Originally an appellate attorney, Slotnick eventually began doing high-profile criminal cases that garnered national media attention. In his early 30’s, Slotnick defended Mafia boss Joe Colombo in front of the United States Supreme Court and won. Ultimately, the New York Court of Appeals declared New York's contempt statute unconstitutional. He would later be the major lawyer of the first John Gotti case, by which Gotti and his associates were all acquitted.
Slotnick has also represented former Democratic Congressman Mario Biaggi, as well as Vyacheslav Kirillovich Ivankov, who was accused by the United States Department of Justice of being a major boss of the Russian mafia. He then represented casino magnate Steve Wynn, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and Rabbi Meir Kahane. He also handled the divorce proceedings on behalf of actor Anthony Quinn and June Gumbel—wife of television personality Bryant Gumbel.
In 2004, Slotnick defended retired Army Captain Jay Ferriola pro-bono with his son Stuart Slotnick. Ferriola was ordered to redeploy to Iraq after completing eight years of service, and sued the Army on the grounds that they violated his due process rights. The Department of Defense later allowed Ferriola to retire from the Army. The case was the first to challenge the Army's stop-loss policy, which had affected tens of thousands of soldiers since the start of the Iraq War. Slotnick then successfully tried four similar cases.
With his son, Stuart, Slotnick also obtained a settlement for publicly traded company Sportingbet with the U.S. Government's Department of Justice for $30 million and a non-prosecution agreement. This amount was a quarter of what competing site PartyGaming paid in a similar lawsuit. Pursuant to the non prosecution agreement, Sportingbet will not be indicted for their criminal acts in the United States.
Slotnick has been a member of the New York Governor's Judicial Selection Committee, Chairman of the New York State Bar Association's Committee on Capital Crimes, and a former Special Deputy Attorney General.
He once had a 12 year winning streak, and has said that his favorite client was Winnie the Pooh, whom he represents adverse to Disneyland. He received the American Lawyer's AMMY Award as the best defense lawyer in America, was named to the New York Super Lawyer List during 2006, 2007, and 2009, and was included in the American Trial Lawyers Association Top 100 Trial Lawyers of 2009.
- Slotnick’s Law New York Magazine via Google Books. January 2, 1989.
- Mustain, Gene; Capeci, Jerry (2002) Mob Star: The Story of John Gotti. Penguin Books. ISBN 0028644166
- Ruhling, Nancy A. Barry Slotnick Courtly Lifestyles Magazine. Spring 2006.
- Johnson, Kirk (June 17, 1987). "Goetz Is Cleared in Subway Attack; Gun Count Upheld; Acquittal Won in Shooting of 4 Youths - Prison Term Possible on Weapon Charge". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
- Fletcher, George A crime of self-defense: Bernhard Goetz and the law on trial Chicago, The University of Chicago Press: 1988.
- Chambers, Marcia Grand Jury Votes to Indict Goetz Only on Gun Possession Charges The New York Times. January 26, 1985.
- Rubin, Lillian Quiet Rage: Bernie Goetz in a Time of Madness Berkeley, University of California Press: 1986.
- Anderson, David C. Why Goetz Got Off New York Times. August 14, 1988
- Youth’s Testimony Stricken in Goetz Trial The Washington Post. May 29, 1987.
- Evans, Colin Trials and the Courts New York, Infobase Publishing: 2010.
- ”Slotnick: The Great Defender” Herald. September 2, 1987.
- Gross, Ken Subway Shooter Bernhard Goetz Is the Latest Defendant to Hire the Hottest Legal Gun in Town - Barry Slotnick People Magazine. May 4, 1987.
- Raab, Selwyn Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful New York, St. Martin's Press: 2005.
- Fried, Joseph (January 30, 1997). "9-Year Jail Term for Russian Named by U.S. as a Mobster". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
- Nicaso, Antonio and Lee Lamothe Angels, Mobsters and Narco-Terrorists: The Rising Menace of Global Criminal
- Friedman, Robert I. Red Mafiya: how the Russian mob has invaded America New York, Warner Books, Inc.: 2000.
- Cooper, Victoria Who’s Here: Barry Slotnick Dan’s Paper. May 30, 2008.
- U.S. Attorney In Miami Steps Aside In Noriega Case; 3 Prosecutors Named The Wall Street Journal. January 15, 1990.
- Kempe, Frederick Divorcing the dictator: America's bungled affair with Noriega London, G.T. Putnam's Sons: 1990.
- Bryant’s Bitter Split People Magazine. November 6, 1998.
- Former Army Captain Wins Case to Avoid Tour of Duty in Iraq Voice of America News. November 5, 2004.
- 'Deborah Norville Tonight' for Nov. 16 MSNBC. November 17, 2004.
- Who You Gonna Call? The American Prospect. March 18, 2007.
- Army Using Policy to Deny Reserve Officer Resignations Washington Post. May 11, 2006.
- Jenny Woo Speaks Sportingbet Settlement with Legal Counsel Stuart Slotnick 911 Gambling. September 24, 2010.
- Sportingbet Settles For Nearly One Quarter of PartyGaming Forfeiture Deal 911 Gaming. September 20, 2010.
- High Profile Litigator Barry Slotnick Joins Buchanan Ingersoll: Firm Adds Boutique of White-Collar & Complex Commercial Litigators PR Newswire. February 8, 2005.
- Itzkoff, Dave (May 18, 2009). "American Apparel Settles Lawsuit With Woody Allen". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
- Profile: Barry Slotnick on BIPC.com.
- Barry Slotnick Profile on BIPC.com.
- Vanderbilt Speaker Series Fall 2005 Barry Slotnick Bio.
- Trial may turn tables on Russian mob boss
- Army Captain Granted Reprieve After Suing U.S. Gvt. To Block Iraq Deployment Democracy Now interview of Barry Slotnick.