Rachel Lederman represents victims of police or government misconduct; workers who have been discriminated against, sexually harassed, or retaliated against; people who have been in car, bike or pedestrian accidents; tenants who have been subjected to bad living conditions, discrimination, or wrongful eviction; prisoners and persons challenging convictions and involuntary commitments. She has defended hundreds of progressive demonstrators in court, and has obtained significant victories in impact litigation to stop police and government repression and civil rights violations.
Rachel is a member of Board of Directors of the Water Protector Legal Collective, the legal support team for the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance at Standing Rock, and lead counsel on Dundon v. Kirchmeier, a civil rights class action lawsuit over police use of water cannons and dangerous munitions against the water protectors. She is a founding member of the Oakland Law Collaborative. Rachel was the President of the National Lawyers Guild, S.F. Bay Area Chapter, from 2014 through 2015 and is one of the coordinators of its Demonstrations Committee. She is a member of the San Francisco Tenant Bar, the NLG National Police Accountability Project, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, and California Appellate Defense Counsel. She has received the NLG, S.F. Bay Area’s Unsung Hero award, and awards for pro bono work.
In 2014, Rachel Lederman and Jim Chanin settled Scott Olsen’s lawsuit against the City of Oakland for $4.5 million. Mr. Olsen, an Iraq war veteran, was shot in the head with a lead-filled “beanbag” round during an Occupy Oakland demonstration on October 25, 2011, shattering his skull. The shooting violated Oakland Police crowd control policies that Rachel helped overhaul in 2004 litigation on behalf of antiwar demonstrators who OPD had shot with “less lethal” munitions. In related litigation Rachel obtained enforcement of these policies and changed OPD and Alameda County’s mass arrest procedures to prevent protesters from being unlawfully jailed for extended periods without charges.
Rachel is a graduate of Cornell University and New College Law School, and has been a practicing attorney since 1987.