Sarah E. Ricks visited at the University of Pennsylvania Law School for 2012-13. At Penn, she taught Civil Rights Litigation and helped redesign the legal writing curriculum to integrate introductions to client interviewing, negotiation, and counseling, innovations she has brought back to Rutgers.
Ricks graduated from Yale Law School, where she co-founded the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism and was named the outstanding female graduate of 1990. She graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After clerking for the Hon. Thomas N. O'Neill, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 1990-92, she joined Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia as a litigation associate. From 1995 to 2001, she was an appellate and legislative attorney for the City of Philadelphia Law Department. She litigated dozens of federal and state appeals, including arguments before the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. She represented the City of Philadelphia at the trial and appeal of its public school desegregation suit and in litigation challenging the Pennsylvania system of funding public education.
In 2008, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter appointed Ricks a Commissioner on the Philadelphia Commission for Human Relations, which enforces the City's antidiscrimination laws in employment, public accommodations, and housing. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney reappointed her in 2016 and she continues to serve. As a Commissioner, she has sat on panels hearing evidence and issuing rulings on employment and disability discrimination claims. The Commission substantially revised the antidiscrimination law, held a year of public hearings on intergroup conflict in the public schools, and issued a report covered by print and television media.
In 2009, Ricks was elected to the American Law Institute. Ricks was a Board Member of the Women's Law Project from 2005 - 2013. Since 2012, she has co-chaired the Section 1983 Subcommittee of the American Bar Association Civil Rights Committee and contributed to the ABA Civil Rights blog. She served on the Yale Law School Executive Committee (2012-15).
In December 2003, in ruling on a substantive due process issue that has split the federal circuits, the Third Circuit adopted much of the reasoning of Ricks's brief filed on behalf of Amici Cities of Camden, Newark, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, and repudiated fifteen years of district court decisions.
Ricks and Jill Friedman, Associate Dean for Pro Bono Programs, co-direct the Pro Bono Research Project, which since 2003 has offered free student legal research services to public interest law practitioners. Ricks teaches legal writing, Current Issues in Civil Rights Litigation, Public Interest Research and Writing (a hybrid clinical-writing course), and Advanced Legal Writing, co-teaches the Marshall Brennan Constitutiional Literacy seminar, and serves as a faculty advisor for the Journal of Law and Public Policy.