Patty First

Principal & Founder


With a career dedicated to litigating for civil rights and advancing progressive legislation, Patty is one of the foremost policy advocates on immigration, women’s rights, civil rights, and technology policy in the nation. She has been a valuable member of the Raben team since our founding in 2001 and serves as a principal and lead of various client teams across the progressive sector. She also directs Raben_Impact campaign, a platform from which movements are studied, taught, and improved; and from which social justice will continue, as a complement to her client services.

Patty leads major campaigns for a variety of foundations, corporate and nonprofit organizations. Her diplomatic and persuasive approach combines unparalleled legal and policy expertise with a talent for building and nurturing client relationships. Industry-wide, she is known for distilling complex litigation and legal issues, and keeping her clients focused on the big picture. Patty doesn’t simply take the wheel—she’s an astute listener, and her decisions are informed, first and foremost, by the direction the client wants to go.

Prior to joining Raben, Patty was on the front lines of the struggle for humane immigration policy and civil rights. She worked for three years on the Senate Judiciary Committee as counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy where she helped craft landmark immigration legislation. She also served under Janet Reno as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office for Legislative Affairs, and litigated voting rights and redistricting cases as a trial attorney in the civil rights division at the Department of Justice.

Patty earned her law degree at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota and received her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Career Highlights

  • Deputy Assistant Attorney General in DOJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs
  • Trial Attorney in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division Voting Section
  • Counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy