Interview with Judge Timothy Rice Part I: Life Before and During Temple Law School
Posted on October 15th, 2015

By Liza Fleming and Diana Joskowicz; edited by John Basenfelder.

Tim Rice is a former newspaper reporter whose wife put him through law school while raising their three daughters.  He attended Temple Law School, where he served as editor-in-chief of Temple Law Review from 1985–86, and later worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney handling criminal prosecutions for nearly twenty years.  He currently serves as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Philadelphia and as an adjunct professor at Temple Law School. Together, Judge Rice and Judge Felipe Restrepo created the Supervision to Aid Re-entry Program.  STAR is a yearlong program that assists former inmates with finding jobs, housing, and acquiring an education. The program has been successful in reducing recidivism in Philadelphia and has served as a model for similar programs throughout the country.

Read the full interview here.


TLR: Tell us a little bit about your life before law school, including your employment before law school, and what influenced your decision to go to law school?

JR: I was a newspaper reporter for four years before law school. And actually the plan was my wife was going to law school and then she had a baby and decided not to, but she said that I should go. So that’s how we ended up doing that. We lived up in New York and moved here just to go to law school.

TLR: Why did you choose Temple? Was it the Philadelphia area that attracted you?

JR: I’ve always liked Philadelphia. But I will be very frank with you—Temple was the only school I got into. So I have always been very indebted to Temple for taking a chance on me. I was a nonconventional student because I worked for four years and I had two children so I wasn’t the prototypical law student.

TLR: Do you think that Temple taking that chance on you contributed to you wanting to come back and teach?

JR: Oh, definitely. Definitely. Temple was a great, great thing for me. I met great people. The faculty was great. It was probably the most positive experience of my life.

TLR: So what originally drove you to want to go to law school? Was there something about journalism that was telling you “I don’t want to do this,” or was it something about the law itself?

JR: I used to cover politics as a newspaper reporter and the government. And a lot of people I covered were lawyers and frankly, I thought if they could do it, I could do it. And I thought I could be at least as good. And I thought it would have a little more avenue to positively impact society. Being a newspaper reporter you have that opportunity because you get to kind of decide what you write about and what kind of theme the story is going to have. And I thought as a lawyer I would have more opportunities to help people and do positive things.

TLR: Did you go into law school wanting to do criminal law?

JR: No. No, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was the first person in my family to go to college so I had no idea. I didn’t know what kind of lawyer to be or what to do and I ended up there by accident.

TLR: What was your most memorable moment at Temple?

JR: Probably the proudest moment I had was when I carried my two daughters on stage to get my diploma. Temple has a really nice tradition where you do that. My daughters were one and three and so I got to carry them up to get my diploma. Ironically, my wife had her purse stolen during the ceremony, so it was kind of a bittersweet day. And this was a few months after an incident I had. Where the Temple Towers are now, there used to be a parking lot and an old building. I drove to law school one day out of that entire year and that day the building collapsed on my car. So I called my wife and she immediately assumed I was at a bar, but instead I was going to get a rental car.

TLR: What was your favorite part about being on Temple Law Review? How do you think it contributed to your success as of now?

JR: I met a lot of great people. I worked as a staff member under Laura Little who was the editor when I was on the staff. I had great editors: Bonnie Greenberg, Rich Barrett, Laura Little. I later went on to work with Rich Barrett as a prosecutor and Laura Little is now a professor here, and we have all remained great friends. So I learned great writing skills in terms of legal writing. I thought it really helped me refine my legal writing and then later when I became an editor it really taught me a lot of management skills and how to deal with people. I was unprepared for that because I really had no management experience. You’re essentially managing thirty to forty people. 

I think it really kind of helped my formation as a lawyer and later I became the criminal chief at the U.S. Attorney’s office and I had to deal with people. And I think a lot of the lessons I learned here helped me later on. Things I did well here, things I didn’t do so well on. Life is a learning experience here and it helped a lot.


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