Attorney Profile

Ariel Rief, Esq.

Ariel Rief is a criminal defense lawyer located in the Bay Area handling cases ranging from misdemeanors to murder. He's also a former prosecutor—first as a deputy district attorney at the Santa Barbara County DA's Office (2011-2012) and, second, at the Amador County DA's Office (2012-2015)—where he successfully handled a wide variety of misdemeanor and felony cases gaining invaluable courtroom litigation and jury trial experience. As a DDA, he learned law enforcement and criminal prosecution strategy in and out of court—a knowledge and perspective that, even today, still greatly assists when defending clients.


Ariel's path to criminal law and becoming a trial lawyer began while at the University of San Diego School of Law. After he received the top grades in his Criminal Law, Legal Research and Writing, and Negotiations courses, he grew a passion for the courtroom. He finished First Place in three consecutive Mock Trial Tournaments, competed nationally, and gained real-world courtroom exposure while clerking for the United States Attorney's Office, Criminal Division (Major Frauds Unit) and twice for the San Diego County District Attorney's Office (one clerkship followed graduation). Additionally, he clerked at the San Diego City Attorney's Office, Civil Division, and at Thorsnes Bartolotta Maguire, a top plaintiff's civil litigation firm in downtown San Diego. Prior to law school, Ariel received his B.A. in History from UCLA.


In 2015, Ariel moved to the Bay Area and initially joined a civil litigation firm representing plaintiffs in consumer warranty ("lemon law") disputes against manufacturers. Missing criminal law, however, he opened his own criminal defense practice, Rief Legal, in 2016. In and out of the courtroom, Ariel (or "Ari") has earned a reputation as a highly skilled negotiator and a winning trial lawyer. Each year, he helps hundreds of clients get through very difficult times in their lives by achieving top results (cases dismissed, charges dropped or reduced, sentences minimized, Not Guilty verdicts or acquittals at jury trials) while advising with compassion, straightforwardness, pragmatism, and effective strategy. 

Rief Legal now has office locations on both sides of the San Francisco Bay (in San Mateo and Contra Costa Counties). Contact Ari today for a FREE consultation.

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  • 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

  • San Mateo County Bar Association (SMCBA)

  • San Mateo County Private Defender Program

  • SMCBA Criminal Law Section, Chair

  • SMCBA Barristers Section, Boardmember

  • California Public Defenders Association

  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice