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Ari Rief, Attorney


  • J.D., University of San Diego School of Law

  • B.A., University of California, Los Angeles


  • State Bar of California

  • United States District Court - Southern District of CA


  • State Bar of California

  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ)

  • California Public Defenders Association (CPDA)

  • San Mateo County Bar Association (SMCBA)

  • SMCBA Criminal Law Section (co-Chair)

  • San Mateo County Private Defender Program


Attorney Bio

When I graduated from college, I worked briefly in the mortgage industry and was appalled by the rampant deceitful business practices in the industry at the time. I left to become a lawyer—a far more suitable role for me—with the broad hope to help people in need (and make an honest living).

In law school, I quickly gravitated towards criminal law and litigation in general. The courtroom drew me in. I received the top grades in my Criminal Law, Legal Research & Writing, and Negotiations classes while discovering a passion for the courtroom and trial advocacy. I clerked at the U.S. Attorney's Office, the D.A.'s Office (twice), the City Attorney's Office, as well as a premiere plaintiff's civil litigation firm. I was also very active in Mock Trial (won First Place in three consecutive tournaments and competed nationally).

After law school, I started my career as a prosecutor. I worked in two different DA's Offices for almost four years gaining significant criminal law experience, worked with law enforcement, and prosecuted high volumes of misdemeanors and felony cases. I later moved to the Bay Area and initially joined a civil consumer protection firm but ultimately left to open my own criminal defense law office. Right away, I inherited an extensive public defender caseload through a program that assigns court-appointed cases to private criminal defense lawyers for clients in financial need. Over the years, I continue to devote a portion of my practice to indigent criminal defense.

I founded Rief Legal to be the kind of law office I would want to retain if I were in trouble. I strive to be approachable, honest and clear with clients. And I aim to provide top tier legal defense at a fair price. My experience includes complicated cases, including murder, and I have a long history of success in the courtroom as a trial lawyer and in judges' chambers (where negotiations make or break lives).


It is a privilege to be an attorney. I have a great appreciation for the significant role of criminal defense, in particular, where jail time and life-altering consequences are often on the line—a role that affords me the opportunity to help people through what is often the most difficult times in their lives, which is a weighty yet profoundly rewarding responsibility. My mission for all clients, no matter where you're from, is to assist you with compassion, straightforwardness, transparency, effective case strategy, and pragmatic solutions so that you can move forward in life.

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