Ronald S. Safer, ESQ.
Ronald S. Safer, ESQ.
CHAIR, STRATEGY COMMITTEE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Ronald S. Safer is an accomplished white-collar defense lawyer and civil litigator with 35 years in public and private practice. Safer’s legal career has had many chapters, each characterized by a deep and abiding commitment to personal integrity, public service, and the rule of law. His commitment to pro bono, and to the profession of law as a public service, is an inspiration to generations of lawyers who work with him.
Safer graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1983 number one in his day division class. Upon graduation, he clerked for the Honorable Thomas A. Flannery in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, accompanying him to North Carolina while the Judge presided over the case of neo-Nazis and Klansmen who opened fire at an anti-Klan rally in Greensboro. After Safer’s clerkship, he worked as an associate at a Chicago-based national law firm, where, despite being a busy associate, he taught law to high school students in the Chicago Public Schools before coming into work in the morning.
Continuing his public service to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, Safer rose to the level of Chief of the Criminal Division and led scores of important investigations and prosecutions. In 1992, Safer was handed a matter nobody else wanted, one that involved personal danger to anyone involved: an investigation into the Gangster Disciples, a ruthless Chicago-based street gang with an organization that spanned 28 states, consisted of 30,000 members, and generated an estimated $100 million in annual revenue. Safer’s perseverance resulted in the indictment of 38 gang members and a police officer, and a series of convictions that crippled the gang.
In 1999, Safer returned to private practice with his previous Chicago-based national law firm, which had grown to more than 350 attorneys, where he served as Managing Partner from 2005-2015 and leader of the white-collar practice group. Under his leadership, the firm dramatically increased its diversity. It also ran a storefront legal aid clinic in Rogers Park and supported the Public Interest Law Initiative, the Just the Beginning Foundation, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and a long list of other pro bono organizations. During his tenure, both revenues and profits increased dramatically.
Safer was appointed by Mayor Emmanuel to conduct an independent review of Chicago’s Police Disciplinary System in 2014. He represents, pro bono, numerous wrongfully convicted inmates in Illinois and around the country, often in conjunction with the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Center on Wrongful Convictions, where he serves on the Executive Committee. Some of the representative cases of Safer’s public service commitment while in private practice include: Eddie Bolden, Jonathan Barr, Arthur Brown, Julie Rae Harper, Marquette Park 4, Bennie Starks, Kristine Bunch, and Glenn Bradford.
On March 1, 2016, Safer joined with a group of 20 fellow partners to form a new law firm, Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP (RSHC). The goal was to create a diverse, service-oriented, and technologically sophisticated firm that, while engaged in private practice at the highest level, is also deeply committed to diversity in the workplace and public service.
RSHC has grown to more than 70 attorneys in four major cities with diversity statistics far exceeding the national averages.
Safer has received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career, most recently the Justice John Paul Stevens Award in 2017 by the Chicago Bar Association and Chicago Bar Foundation and the 2017 Chicago Criminal Defense: White-Collar “Lawyer of the Year” award by Best Lawyers®.
Safer is a native of New York and the proud father of four adult children, Kevin, Adam, Brianne, and Zach, and the proud grandfather of two grandsons, Lucas and Jaxson.