Heather Hamel Robles
Genesis of an Activist
Heather Hamel Robles grew up in a multi-racial family. Seeing her siblings treated differently, based on their varying appearances to the outside world, left in indelible imprint on her at a relatively young age. By the time she was a teenager, Heather realized that what might be a routine traffic stop for her as a white-passing woman was very different for her younger brother with darker skin.
For Heather, the law was always a calling. But her life experience meant that her path in the law would always be focused on making change: impacting and attempting to eradicate the very systems of oppression she witnessed growing up. This led her to one place: the University of California, Berkeley.
From Non-Profits to Civil Rights
Heather attended Berkeley -- the American law school most associated with producing change-making lawyers -- at a key time in American history. Her education continued as much outside of the classroom as within. She had the opportunity to witness in the dawn of the Movement for Black Lives following the murder of Oscar Grant at Fruitvale Station. She witnessed Oakland PD's violent response to the Occupy protests. And, after three years in the Bay Area, Heather brought her activism into her judicial clerkship with the Arizona Court of Appeals and a prestigious associateship with national law firm Perkins Coie.
While deeply appreciative for the mentorship of several outstanding attorneys at Perkins, Heather hungered or making a bigger impact than life at a big law firm would allow. With no prior non-profit experience, Heather resigned from her six-figure associate position and formed Justice That Works. A 501(c)(3) dedicated to prison abolition, JTW aimed to end mass incarceration in Arizona through a lens of community accountability.
During her five years in the non-profit world, Heather continued to engage in community activism, participating in valley protests against anti-immigrant legislation, advocating for police and corrections reform, and traveling to Standing Rock to be in solidarity with the Indigenous water-protectors protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. In 2018, the PLF lured Heather away from her non-profit and activism work to return to the full-time practice of law. Moving seamlessly from front-line activism to legal advocacy, in just two years Heather has served as lead counsel on the largest civil rights settlement in the history of the City of Phoenix, second-chaired a federal civil rights trial, led litigation on a number of section 1983 civil rights matters, and helped author proposed criminal justice reform legislation for the Arizona State Legislature.
Arizona (admitted in 2013)
United States District Court for the District of Arizona
The People's Law Firm, Attorney (2018-present)
Justice that Works, Founder & Executive Director (2015-2019)
Perkins Coie LLP (2014-2015)
Arizona Court of Appeals, Judicial Clerk (2013-2014)
University of California, Berkeley, J.D. (2013)
Arizona State University, B.A. (2009)