The Los Angeles civil rights law firm Public Counsel Wednesday announced the selection of attorney and law professor Monica Ramirez Almadani, the daughter of Mexican immigrants who settled in Huntington Park, as its next president and CEO.
The appointment, which will be effective in June, is the result of a months-long search to find a new leader for Public Counsel after retired U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow announced her upcoming departure after 5 1/2 years at the helm of the nation’s largest pro bono law firm, which recently celebrated its 50-year anniversary.
Ramirez Almadani, who will also hold the Helen & Morgan Chu CEO Distinguished Chair, has nearly two decades of experience advocating for the rights of underserved communities locally and nationally.
Currently a clinical law professor and co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at UC Irvine School of Law, she began her career at the American Civil Liberties Union after clerking for the late Justice Warren J. Ferguson of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ramirez Almadani continued to lead initiatives, investigations and precedent-setting litigation on behalf of vulnerable communities across the country at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, where she served as counsel to then Assistant Attorney General — and former U.S. Secretary of Labor — Thomas E. Perez during the first term of the Obama administration.
She also served as deputy chief of staff and senior counselor to former Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole in Washington, D.C., and as a federal prosecutor in the public corruption and civil rights section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
“Since her days in the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department where she helped lead our reform efforts, I have appreciated Monica for being a passionate, dedicated and accomplished advocate for those in need and for those at risk,” said former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. “Her authenticity is palpable, her effectiveness evident. I am confident she will lead Public Counsel with the same integrity, vision, and compassion she has demonstrated throughout her career.”
Ramirez Almadani said her parents, Salvador and Irma, immigrated to the U.S. to provide their daughters with greater opportunities.
“Public Counsel’s mission and its clients are very personal to me,” Ramirez Almadani said. “My family’s own journey and the strength and resilience of the community in which I grew up are what inspired me to pursue a career committed to social, economic and racial justice.
“Families and communities who are low income or living in poverty, and who are primarily people of color, face a myriad of challenges that the pandemic has only made worse — many systemic and longstanding, and some that would have been hard to imagine just over a year ago,” she said. “I am proud and humbled to have the chance to lead a talented, diverse, and passionate staff, as well as countless volunteer attorneys and law students, in advocating for and serving those in need at this unique moment in time.”