Connect with @arielthelawyer
Ariel (R·E·L) Rief is the founder and owner of Rief Legal, a criminal / DUI defense law office in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was also formerly a prosecutor in multiple DA's Offices in California.
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J.D., University of San Diego School of Law
B.A., History, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
For years, I was a Deputy District Attorney (DDA) in multiple California counties, so I know well what it's like to prosecute a criminal case, work with law enforcement, negotiate with defense lawyers, and to go to trial as a DA. And unlike most other former prosecutors, I've also spent years in the public defender's shoes gaining vast criminal defense experience. For over a decade in total, I've handled high volumes of challenging cases on both sides of the courtroom—from DUIs to murder—which has grounded me with the expertise necessary to defend you in court.
How I Became a Trial Lawyer
After college, I initially worked for a mortgage brokerage, but I was appalled by rampant deceitful business practices in the industry at the time. I decided quickly to leave the industry and become a lawyer—a far more suitable role for me—in the broad pursuit of helping people.
In law school, I received the top grade in my Criminal Law, Legal Research & Writing, and Negotiations classes and discovered a passion for the courtroom and trial advocacy. I clerked at the U.S. Attorney's Office, the City Attorney's Office, the D.A.'s Office (twice), as well as a civil litigation firm. I also won three consecutive Mock Trial Tournaments and competed nationally.
Perhaps it wasn't surprising, then, that I then became a prosecutor after law school. I worked for two DA's Offices for about four years total and gained great experience. But life circumstances changed, which led to my move to the Bay Area and a career pivot. I first worked at a civil aw firm handling consumer protection cases but ultimately left to open my own criminal defense law office. I also essentially inherited a public defender caseload right away as I accepted court appointments in hundreds of criminal cases.
In sum, although I greatly enjoyed my time as a prosecutor, I have equally loved my role as a criminal defense attorney over the years, which enables me to able to work directly with clients and to offer my help in very significant ways.
It's a privilege to be an attorney. My practice enables me to help people through what's often the most difficult times in their lives—a weighty yet profoundly rewarding responsibility. Whether that means negotiating the reduction or dismissal of criminal charges or fighting a case all the way to trial, I take whatever path is needed to help. In all cases, my mission is to advise with compassion, transparency, smart strategy, and pragmatism.
Small Firm Model
Bigger is not always better. In criminal law, many of the best firms are solo or 1-2 lawyer boutique practices. Hiring a larger firm often means your case will be handled by an associate who lacks the trial experience and courtroom credibility that you believe you're paying for.
Cases Are Not Passed Off to Less Experienced Associates
I prepare your case, answer your calls, and attend court myself on anything important. I don't pass off the work. The more cases a lawyer takes, the less time the lawyer can devote to each client. To ensure I provide top tier representation for each client, I limit how many new cases that I accept.
Convenience for Clients
I work out of two offices in the San Francisco Bay Area—in Redwood City, San Mateo County (two blocks from the courthouse) and Moraga, a midway point between Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. For addresses and maps, please click HERE. I also offer video visits—a fast, convenient way to meet!
Fees / Costs
Quotes are provided only after consultation, but to give you a general idea, misdemeanors (including DUIs) typically range from $2,500 to $5,000. Felonies start at $7,500. "Strike" cases start at $10,000. If a case goes to jury trial, there is a per-day fee that starts at $750. Some cases need expert witness or other specialized services, which is an additional cost.