Connie Rice is a civil rights lawyer who engineers systemic fixes to entrenched inequality and injustice. California Law Business Journal twice designated her one of the top ten most influential attorneys in California. Through impact litigation, campaigns and inside bureaucratic maneuvering, she has led coalitions and clients to win more than $30 billion in damages, bonds and policy changes. Bus riders, death row inmates, folks abused by police, school kids, whistleblowers, cops and sufferers of every stripe of discrimination, (sex, race, disability, age) have sought her counsel. But so have her opponents, like the Los Angeles Police Department she sued for 15 years but which now reserves a parking space for her at their new headquarters.
Connie grew up all over the world in an Air Force family headed by her parents Anna, a biology teacher, and Phillip, a pilot and Colonel. She graduated from Harvard-Radcliffe colleges in 1978, achieved her black belt in Tae Kwon Do in 1981 and entered New York University School of Law on a Root Tilden Scholarship. In law school she worked extensively on capital punishment cases at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and after graduating from law school in 1984, she clerked for the Honorable Damon J. Keith at the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for two years before winging it west to California where she joined the law firm of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. She rejoined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1989 as Western Regional Counsel, won several landmark cases and in the words of one magazine, established herself as “the voice of Los Angeles’ oppressed.” Together with Co-Directors Molly Munger, Penda Hair and Steve English, Connie launched The Advancement Project, a policy action and technology organization in 1998, and in the words of Los Angeles Magazine, “picked up where Clarence Darrow left off.” Connie serves on the board of public radio station KPCC and as chief of staff to Sinbad, her jet black cat.