Joe Rice is one of the nation’s most feared and respected plaintiffs trial lawyers in America.
Renowned as a skilful and innovative negotiator of complex legal settlements, and one of the smartest dealmakers and strategic thinkers in the field of litigation, Rice has earned great respect for playing fair and remaining humble throughout his brilliant career.
Born in the small town of Winnsboro SC. he later worked in the textile mills, driving a forklift on third shift and bagged groceries at the A&P.“My parents took good care of us,” he says, “but if I wanted gas to borrow the car and go out Friday night, it was because I worked for it.”
He went on to the University of South Carolina, where he met his wife Lisa at a fraternity party. Rice had always wanted to be an attorney, save for a brief time in high school when he considered being a Baptist preacher and so he stayed in Columbia to attend law school. After graduating in 1979, he joined the firm of Blatt & Fales in Barnwell, S.C., working closely beside the late Ron Motley, to take on asbestos manufacturers and enhance safety regulations on behalf of workers and their families
Joe Rice. Original painting 2021. Collection of the artist.
Motley, a true titan of the Plaintiffs’ Bar, was Rice's mentor from the very beginning and they went on to reach the largest civil settlement in U.S. history in 1998, the $246 billion Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement when the tobacco industry agreed to reimburse states for smoking-related health costs.
Joe and Ron founded Motley Rice LLC in Mt. Pleasant in April 2003, where the firm remains headquartered today. Joe currently leads more than 100 attorneys, across the firm’s nine offices, in practice areas ranging from occupational disease, medical devices, pharmaceutical, securities, consumer fraud and protection, whistleblower, anti-terrorism, aviation, environmental and catastrophic injuries.
Motley Rice is one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ litigation firms. With a tradition of representing those whose rights have been violated, Motley Rice attorneys gained recognition for their pioneering asbestos lawsuits, their work with the State Attorneys General in the landmark litigation against Big Tobacco, and their representation of 9/11 families in the ongoing lawsuit against terrorist financiers. The firm continues to handle complex litigation in numerous areas, including securities fraud; antitrust; consumer protection; mesothelioma; environmental contamination; prescription and over-the-counter drugs; other medical devices; human rights; aviation disasters; and wrongful death. Motley Rice is headquartered in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., and has additional offices in Connecticut; Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; New York; Missouri; Rhode Island; and West Virginia.
Rice and Motley working together were unstoppable. Rice played the boardroom, “In terms of getting the client money, he’s among the best there’s ever been.” while Motley , holding the main stage of the courtroom, told the story and convinced the juries of their cause.. “He never participated in settlement discussions, and I never participated in what was going on in the courtroom,” Rice says. “I just made the assumption in the courtroom we were going to win, and he made the assumption in the courtroom that he was going to try the case.”Joe is a legendary champion for justice and his career has been an inspiration to the entire legal community. He has been at the center of the most significant and important legal cases of his time, giving a voice to the voiceless, a voice to those who have suffered some of the most devastating public health, environmental and consumer torts of our time.