Joyce Vance


Joyce White Vance is a Distinguished Professor from the Practice of Law at the University of Alabama School of Law, where her scholarship focuses on criminal justice reform and civil rights. She is a legal analyst with NBC and MSNBC. She was the United States Attorney in the Northern District of Alabama from August 2009 through January 2017, appointed by President Obama and unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

Vance’s focus on civil rights included filing a statewide investigation into conditions in Alabama’s mens’ prisons, as well as a successful challenge of Alabama’s HB56 anti-immigration bill and a voting rights settlement with the state of Alabama that brought it into compliance with the Motor Voter Act. She created a community-engaged initiative to fight the epidemic of heroin and prescription opiate addiction, receiving the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Lou Wooster Public Health Hero Award for her work. Vance worked to improve police/community relationships. Under her leadership, Birmingham was designated as one of six pilot cities for the National Initiative on Building Community Trust and developed a successful Violence Reduction Initiative. She also created reentry programs designed to reduce recidivism among people returning to the community from prison. Among Vance’s major criminal prosecutions were the first material support of terrorism case in Alabama, the major fraud prosecutions of a Birmingham health care CEO, the director of the Alabama Small Business Consortium, and the executive director of the Jefferson County, Alabama, Committee for Economic Opportunity; and the prosecution of a man who attempted to hire an individual he thought was a KKK hitman to murder his African-American neighbor.

Prior to being named U.S. Attorney, Vance served in the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1991 to 2002, when she moved to the office’s appellate division. She became chief of that division in 2005.

Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office, Vance worked as a litigator in private practice, first with Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin and Kahn in Washington, D.C. and then with Bradley, Arant (now Bradley, Arant, Boult, Cummings) in Birmingham. Vance is a 1985 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and a 1982 graduate of Bates College, in Lewiston, Maine. She is married to Alabama Circuit Judge Robert S. Vance, Jr. They have four children, three dogs, four cats and ten chickens.