Criminal Defense Attorney Ariel Rief (2)

Ariel Rief, Esq.

EDUCATION

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

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

ADMISSIONS

  • State Bar of California

  • United States District Court - Southern District of CA

MEMBERSHIPS

  • 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

  • SMCBA Barristers Section

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Attorney Bio

My path to becoming a trial lawyer began after I graduated college at UCLA. I initially worked for a mortgage brokerage in San Diego, but I was appalled by the deceitful business practices in the industry. Unlike the brokers and loan officers around me, I often convinced potential customers not to refinance their home loans (which was antithetical to my job description) because, for many, it did not make sense financially. I decided quickly to leave the industry and become a lawyer—a far more suitable role for me—to achieve my life's pursuit of helping people. 

 

My interest in litigation, negotiation, and specifically criminal law sparked while at the University of San Diego School of Law. After three particular courses where I received top grades—Criminal Law, Legal Research & Writing, and Negotiations—I then participated in three consecutive Mock Trial Tournaments, and won First Place in each competition. That led to me competing in a national tournament in a Chicago federal court. I also gained valuable real-life litigation experience both during and after law school completing four prosecutorial clerkships at three government offices: two with the San Diego County District Attorney's Office, one with the United States Attorney's Office, Criminal Division (Major Frauds Unit), and one at the San Diego City Attorney's Office (Land Use and Environmental Section). Additionally, I clerked for one year at Thorsnes Bartolotta Magure, a well-respected civil litigation firm in San Diego.

As an attorney, I was hired to be a criminal prosecutor—first a deputy district attorney with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office (2011-2012) and, second, with the Amador County District Attorney's Office (2012-2015). As a prosecutor, I handled a wide variety of cases—from countless common misdemeanors to many serious felonies—and gained valuable negotiation and jury trial experience along the way. Now, as a defense attorney, I handle cases that range from DUI to homicide and I believe that my experience at multiple DA's Offices and in preparing cases with law enforcement provides helpful insight to share with clients. 

 

In 2015, I moved to the Bay Area and initially joined a civil litigation law firm in Silicon Valley handling consumer protection cases against automobile manufacturers. In 2016, I returned to criminal law—my first career passion—and founded Rief Legal. Additionally, a portion of my practice is dedicated to indigent defense cases appointed through the San Mateo County Private Defender Program, which enables me to defend individuals who do not have the financial resources to hire a lawyer.

 

In my law practice, each year I get the opportunity to help hundreds of 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.