Tricia Schafer 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Gary L. Stuart Finding Ways to Make Things Better On this late Spring afternoon, Gary Stuart's home office is unusually quiet. He has just finished grading exams for his Professional Responsibility course at the ASU Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. He has wrapped up a few ethics consulting projects and year-end academic commitments in his role as senior policy advisor at the law school. Packing work-related essentials to spend time at the family's summer home near Placitas, New Mexico, he espouses the latest apps for his iPhone and iPad that will enable him to keep his finger on the pulse of his various professional and business ventures. With an illustrious career that spans nearly half a century, most lawyers would feel the need to decelerate. Gary Stuart, however, merely shifts gears. Highly regarded as a litigator, ethics authority, technology guru, author, entrepreneur, educator, policy advisor, and mentor, he juggles his vocations with ease. "I'm busy," Stuart explains, "and happily engaged in a mix of things that are, at least in my mind, all related to the law." He founded and runs two law related businesses, Keyed Communications, LLC (providing law firm IT services), and Arizona's Finest Lawyers, LLC (providing lawyer validation and recognition authority). And he's currently building a new franchisee (SmartBetty.com). In his spare time, he sits on a half-dozen nonprofit boards and engages in an active pro bono law practice. Though writing is admittedly Stuart's true passion, his first and most memorable footprint on Arizona's legal landscape was as a highly successful trial lawyer and expert on legal ethics. Stuart spent 30 years at Jennings Strouss, where he served as lead counsel in approximately 100 jury trials, roughly three dozen appeals, and several hundred bench trials, hearings, and alternative dispute resolution proceedings. One of his more public roles was as independent counsel to the Arizona House of Representatives during the 1991 AzScam investigation, which Stuart describes as "the case of a lifetime. The lure of easy money layered onto overpowering greed caused the downfall of a dozen or so prominent citizens. But most interesting of all, I encountered a sense of profound honesty on the part of the vast majority of our legislators." Stuart's role as mentor is a hallmark of his practice. As a senior member at Jennings Strouss, Stuart was often called upon to advise the new classes of associates. What affectionately became known as his "sermon" included the following: "Attorneys know the law. Lawyers represent people. Attorneys are ready to give legal advice. Lawyers advise. Attorneys go home at the end of the day. Lawyers are always lawyers." J. Scott Rhodes, now the managing attorney at Jennings Strouss, reflects on Stuart's influence on Rhodes' early years at the firm. "Gary is known as one of Arizona's first experts on legal ethics. He literally 'wrote the book' on ethical trial practice. I learned from Gary how to represent lawyers in discipline proceedings. His knowledge, judgment, and advocacy skills have always been second to none. I'm proud to consider Gary my mentor, role model and friend." "Gary was one of my very first and, perhaps, longest mentors," echoes Jennings Strouss alum Tony Palumbo, now of Palumbo Wolfe & Palumbo. "Gary really influenced me as a trial lawyer. He emphasized excellence, realizing that while perfection is something that is impossible, excellence is a worthy by-product along the way. That is the ethic and value system that influenced the many endeavors which he has undertaken both in and out of law." Doug Irish, who heads the Civil Division of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, has known Stuart since their early years of practice, and describes Stuart as "a true gentleman in the timehonored tradition of that term. He is an impeccable lawyer, with keen insight, judgment and skill. He is a beacon for the guidance of younger and less experienced lawyers in navigating the crosscurrents and choppy waters of this honorable profession. He also happens to be a really nice guy." During his final decade at Jennings Strouss, Stuart's statewide influence expanded from mentor to published author. "The Ethical Trial Lawyer" (1994) and "Litigation Ethics" (1998), are regarded as "the definitive treatises on Arizona ethics," explains Craig Mehrens of Mehrens and Wilemon PA. "Gary clearly is the foremost expert on legal ethics in general and Arizona ethics specifically." Mark Harrison of Osborn Maledon agrees. "As the profession has evolved and grown exponentially in size, it has become increasingly important for lawyers, both young and old, to be reminded that the law is, primarily, a profession, not a business." Harrison continues, "Gary's stature and credentials have enabled him to serve as one of the leading and most effective voices in delivering this message to the members of our profession for more than a quarter century." Stuart left Jennings Strouss in 1998 to devote more time to his small IT company, his published nonfiction writings, his ethics consulting practice, and his first novel. In 2000, he began what became a notable and highly-influential eight-year term on the Arizona Board of Regents, the governing body for Arizona's three public universities. "Lawyering is still me," Stuart explains, "but my interests and time are split into so much more." Stuart served as a Regent from 2000 through 2008, and as Board President from 2004-2005. As a Regent, he chaired all of the Board's major committees, with particular emphasis on auditing, academic affairs, capital resources, and the development of the University of Arizona College of Medicine's Phoenix campus. He also modified the underlying relationship between the Board and many of its university stakeholders, and served on two related boards, Arizona Technology Enterprises, LLC and the Translational Genomics Research Institute. Stuart remains involved to this day, explaining, "Because one of the major areas of my law practice centered on medicine and health care issues, I agreed to play an active role in advancing medical research, bioscience initiatives, and development funding for the universities." Fred Boice, a fellow Regent during Stuart's term, comments, "Gary is not only smart but he's wise. He could take either side of an issue and provide the board with a fully vetted discussion of the subject at hand. He could appreciate how a current event or decision could impact future events, and was really good at putting events and issues in context so we could reach consensus. That isn't a science, that's an art." Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University elaborates, "Gary Stuart is singularly focused on finding ways to make things better. Whether he's writing books, being an entrepreneur, or teaching as an adjunct professor, he's always actively pursuing improvement." "An incredibly energetic and talented person, one of Gary's attributes is that he is a problem solver who is often called upon to innovate and lead when things get difficult from either a legal, educational or policy-making point of view," marvels Judge Craig Blakey, Stuart's friend of 25 years. "And after all that he's accomplished, Gary is still reinventing himself and pushing the rest of us to catch up."
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