Lori Rifkin ’04, a senior trial attorney in the civil rights division of the Department of Justice, was named one of 40 “Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40” by the National LGBT Bar Association. The group, composed of LGBT attorneys who have distinguished themselves professionally and demonstrated a profound commitment to LGBT equality, were honored on August 25 in Washington, D.C., during the bar association’s annual conference.

Rifkin works in the civil rights division’s special litigation section, where she focuses on matters involving prisoners’ rights, police misconduct, and juvenile justice, and advises the section on matters affecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. Rifkin also serves on the division-wide LGBTI working group, which examines a range of civil rights issues of importance to the LGBTI community.

“I was honored to be nominated for this award by my colleagues in the Civil Rights Division,” said Rifkin. “It is exciting and crucial that the federal government and the Department of Justice are proudly recognizing the importance of a diverse workplace and addressing issues affecting the lives of LGBTI people.”    

Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Rifkin litigated prisoners’ rights cases at Rosen, Bien & Galvan, a nationally recognized civil rights firm based in San Francisco.  At RBG, Rifkin represented statewide classes of prisoners with mental illness and persons on parole in federal lawsuits, and worked on litigation to reduce the overcrowded population in California prisons, which resulted in a victory before the United States Supreme Court in 2011.  Rifkin was also a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Unions of Connecticut and Southern California and an attorney at the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, where she worked on a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act brought by California state employees who attempted to include their same-sex spouses in retirement plans.

While at NYU Law, Rifkin participated in OUTLaw and Students and Queers United Against Discrimination (SQUAD).  SQUAD advocated against the Solomon Amendment, which forced universities to allow military recruiters on campus in violation of non-discrimination codes including sexual orientation, and encouraged NYU’s participation as a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging this coercion.  NYU Law awarded Rifkin the Eric Dean Bender Prize in 2004 for her work on these issues.  Rifkin completed her undergraduate degree at Harvard University in 2000, where she double-majored in Social Studies and Women’s Studies. 

This year the National LGBT Bar Association also named Iván Espinoza-Madrigal ’05, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal, to the list of “Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40.”

Posted on August 30, 2012