President and Director-Counsel, Tzedek DC
Ariel Levinson-Waldman is the Founding President and Director-Counsel of Tzedek DC, an independent public interest center at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. Tzedek DC’s mission is to safeguard the legal rights of low-income DC residents facing often unjust, life-altering debt collection lawsuits and other consumer protection crises.
Previously, Ariel served in a series of government roles. Until January 2017, he served in the Obama administration as the Department of Labor Advisor to the White House Interagency Legal Aid Roundtable, a coordinated effort to promote low-income Americans' access to civil legal aid as part of the federal government's anti-poverty efforts.
He previously served as the Senior Counsel to the DC Attorney General, where he played a Chief of Staff role and helped direct the District’s consumer protection enforcement and policy advocacy efforts. For that work, he received the 2014 Daniel Curtin Award, given annually to one public lawyer in the country under the age of forty for outstanding service to the public and the highest ethics and integrity in the practice of public law.
Earlier in his career, he served under Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he received a bi-partisan Tribute for Distinguished Service.
Before his government lawyer service, Ariel practiced for five years in the Litigation Department of WilmerHale, where his work included representing the NAACP, and he was a Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Voting Rights Project. Ariel began his legal career by serving as a law clerk to Judge Robert H. Henry of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Ariel has handled or supervised a broad range of litigation matters in cases ranging from constitutional controversies to commercial disputes to debt collection defense cases. He has handled trial or evidentiary proceedings or conducted oral argument in DC Superior Court, the DC Court of Appeals, the US District Court for the District of Columbia, and the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, and in other courts around the country, and represented clients in briefing to the U.S. Supreme Court. He has taught as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center and at the University of the District of Columbia David A Clarke School of Law, and in 2016 was appointed by Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the D.C. Circuit's Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services.
Ariel is a graduate, with honors, of Northwestern University (1996) and of the University of Chicago Law School (2001), where he was a student attorney in the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic Employment Discrimination Project and an editor on the University of Chicago Law Review.
His commitment to access to justice in our society stems in part from his grandparents' experiences as Holocaust survivors and his father's experience as an immigrant to the United States. Ariel lives in the District of Columbia with his wife Rachel Levinson-Waldman, a civil liberties lawyer at the Brennan Center for Justice, and their daughter and son.