Published in 2023 Southern California Super Lawyers magazine
By Jessica Ogilvie on January 11, 2023
Angela Reddock-Wright grew up in Compton—but not the one everyone talks about.
“I was in New York recently, and the Uber driver said, ‘Oh, you’re from Compton. Do you know Dr. Dre’s Straight Outta Compton?’” Reddock-Wright says. “But I didn’t see that lifestyle. There was a version of Compton that had gangsta rap and so forth. That wasn’t my world.”
Her Compton, she says, revolved around working class families, extracurricular activities, academic-enrichment programs and the Baptist church. She acted in Christmas plays, sang in the choir,
and participated in the oratorical contest. She attends the same church today.
“It shaped me spiritually and in terms of being a foundation for my current faith and spiritual beliefs,” she says. “It also gave me a great opportunity to develop as an overall person—leadership skills, organization skills, performing arts.”
In law school, she even planned to be an entertainment lawyer so she could represent gospel artists and possibly start her own record label. “I secretly still would love to do that,” she says with a smile.
Reddock-Wright was 7 years old the first time she saw her grandmother advocate for better rights. Her mother’s mother, a home health care worker and union representative, was lobbying to improve life for herself and her colleagues in Birmingham, Alabama at the tail end of the civil rights era.
“I think it’s always been a part of my DNA to be engaged,” she says. “It’s definitely a family value to be a leader, to be engaged, to give back wherever we are. … My mom wasn’t one to let me be idle.”
The daughter of an Army lifer, she was born in Würzberg, Germany, then returned with her parents to their hometown of Birmingham at an early age. Following her parents’ divorce, Reddock-Wright stayed in Alabama until age 9. “My mom, in search of a better life for us in post-civil rights Alabama, decided to move to California, where we also had some family,” she says.
In junior high school, she was one of several students recruited to take part in her school’s sister program at Brentwood High School. “I don’t think I knew much about the west side of L.A.,” she says. “Being introduced to that world of wealth and access, and all the things that come with being in a place like that, it was an eye-opener.”
She thrived, becoming heavily involved in music, theater and student government. That led her to Amherst College in western Massachusetts, where she studied English and political science and dreamed of becoming a talk show host like Oprah.
Then she got involved in an Amherst program that connected students with alumni in order to explore possible career paths. The summer before her senior year, she was paired with an L.A.-based lawyer. People had long been telling her that with her gift her public speaking she should become a lawyer, but this is what solidified things. “Following him and seeing him in action really inspired me,” she says. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I think I should be a lawyer.’”
After UCLA School of Law, she joined an employment and labor law firm. “I fell in love with it from day one,” she says. “Immediately I realized that people spend the majority of their lives working, so to have a front-row seat through the litigation process and see what happens in the workplace meant there was never a dull day. The fact patterns and scenarios were always different, and the opportunity to be a voice, so to speak, and help guide clients was very important work that made a difference. And I still feel that.”
Over the course of her career, she’s repped clients on both sides of wrongful termination, harassment and discrimination cases. She’s also taken a few cases outside the employment realm when she’s felt passionate about a cause.
Sorority and fraternity hazing was one such example. “The first case was over 20 years ago, and involved my godsister who, along with another young woman, was pledging a leading African-American sorority and they died from a hazing incident,” she says. “I represented my godsister’s son and family in a wrongful death suit.”
Similarly, in 2010, she represented the plaintiff in a high-profile case involving sorority hazing at San Jose State University. Her lawsuit, filed against the university as well as Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and its San Jose Campus Chapter Rho Zeta, argued that pledges were subject to illegal hazing, including being punched, kicked, slapped and thrown into walls—and told that “snitches get stitches.” Both cases resulted in confidential settlements through mediation.
In 2011, she founded Reddock Law Group, a dispute resolution firm where she acts as an employment mediator, arbitrator, and workplace investigator. “I always knew that I would evolve into being a mediator,” she says. “I was always the type of litigator that, while obviously vigorously defending my clients, would always have a focus on the end goal. My personality was always geared toward being resolution-oriented, and looking at the bigger picture and looking at the best end goal for my client—which is almost never litigation.”
She sees mediation as helping people navigate some of life’s most difficult and painful moments. “You have to have the capacity to really listen, to ask good questions, to help the parties understand the core of the conflict,” she says.
When the #MeToo movement broke, following allegations that film producer Harvey Weinstein had committed decades of sexual assault and harassment, the Reddock Group was hired by SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents Hollywood actors, directors and producers, to update its policies for handling member complaints. Reddock-Wright says the Weinstein case’s larger impact was opening up the conversation at companies of all sizes. “It really created this tsunami effect within the everyday workplace,” she says, “where people feel like they had a voice, and they could stand up to express their concerns: ‘Hey, that’s happening to me, too.’”
As her profile has grown, Reddock-Wright has become a regular commentator on TV, radio and in print, talking about, among other topics, the post-COVID workplace, the Black Lives Matter movement, Title IX, activism in the workplace, and sexual assault cases. She also has her own radio show, Legal Lens with Angela Reddock-Wright, on Tavis Smiley’s KBLA Talk 1580.
In 2019, she served as president of the Southern California Mediation Association. “An excellent leader,” says Andy Shelby, SCMA’s subsequent president. “Very focused, very creative. … She always had a ton of ideas.”
During her term, Reddock-Wright launched what became one of the organization’s most popular programs, “How I Made It,” a webinar series in which mediators spoke about their career paths and trajectories. “One of the things our organization does is to try to enhance the skills of mediators,” Shelby says, “so this brought in different people—lawyers, non-lawyers, people of differing backgrounds—to talk about ‘how they made it’ in the mediation field. She actually took the idea from The LA Times, which had a Sunday series where they talked to people who made it in different professions. They highlighted her one time, and she liked the idea so she ran with it. It became very popular.”
In January 2020, Reddock-Wright was tapped to join the prestigious Judicate West as one of its neutrals. She’s also helping to launch the next generation of mediators as an adjunct faculty member of USC’s Employment Mediation Clinic, which provides students with hands-on experience as pro bono mediators through organizations like the DFEH and EEOC. “It allows me to be a part of helping train the next generation of lawyers to consider the field of mediation,” she says. “Even if they don’t become mediators, they can still bring their cases to mediation, so when they’re advocating for their clients they’ll have a better understanding.”
This year, Reddock-Wright has added yet another title to her resumé: author. In her book, The Workplace Transformed: 7 Crucial Lessons from the Global Pandemic, she offers solutions and strategies for organizations in the wake of the pandemic. Instead of seeing this upheaval as a setback, Reddock-Wright has called it a “unique opportunity for us all to take a collective breath and determine what we want our present and future workplaces to look like.
“At the core of any workplace conflict is human nature,” she adds. “Our human nature sometimes causes us to be our best selves, and sometimes it causes us not to be our best selves. Will we ever be free of a society of discrimination and harassment or other issues? No, because we’re human, we’re always going to make mistakes, and we all have biases and implicit biases. We’ll always have our challenges. But I think we continue to grow from those challenges.”
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