Liane Rice ’09 grew up in a family with a strong appreciation for public service: Her father is a retired principal from P.S. 119 in the Bronx, her stepmother a librarian at a branch of the New York Public Library, and one sister recently retired after a career as a New York state trooper.
It is fitting that Rice will be taking a job at the public interest law firm of Vladeck Waldman. Founded by the late Judith Vladeck ’47, it is known for groundbreaking victories in employment and labor discrimination law.
Rice majored in psychology and minored in women’s studies at Swarthmore College. After working for three years at a rape crisis center in Philadelphia—where her duties included running the court accompaniment program and preparing victims to testify—she decided that a law degree would best enable her to become a highly effective women’s rights advocate. “I witnessed the range of things an attorney could accomplish,” she says.
Rice, who chose Columbia largely because of its public interest law offerings, took full advantage of them. During the summer after her first year, she traveled to Durban, South Africa, to intern for a refugee rights organization. Rice then won the Sidley Austin Public Interest Fellowship to fund her second summer, allowing her to split time between the firm and Legal Momentum, a women’s rights nonprofit. During the school year, she interned at the American Civil Liberties Union and the Queens County District Attorney’s Office. She also served for three years on the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, her last as managing editor.
Rice counts among her mentors Professor Philip Genty, for whom she served as an editor in the Foundation Moot Court, and Carol Sanger, the Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law. “Professor Sanger’s curiosity and enthusiasm are infectious,” says Rice. “She’ll make a connection between American judicial bypass procedures for minors seeking an abortion and medieval French pardon letters. She inspires us to think far outside the box.”