Leadership Council on Legal Diversity The Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), which was formed in May 2009, is an organization of corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession. Their vision is to significantly advance diversity and inclusion throughout the profession. They strive to continue the work of the 2004 Call to Action initiative, conceived by former LCLD Chair Rick Palmore, by having their organizations hire, retain, promote and engage the best talent. The council commits to work together to take action to drive material change in their institutions, with others in their circles of influence, and in the profession generally. The words “Leadership Council on Legal Diversity” are carefully chosen. Since the formation of the LCLD was announced, the group has focused on developing strategies to increase diversity in the legal profession. Just as importantly, the LCLD has brought together the leaders of law firms and corporate legal departments to do that. At the time of the announcement, Rick Palmore, general counsel of General Mills and former chair of the LCLD Board of Directors underscored the significance of the effort: “LCLD is doing what no other initiative has done—uniting the legal industry’s senior leaders in one organization to address and resolve the enormous diversity challenges in our profession.” The Leadership Council on Legal Diversity has organized a committee structure around four key strategic initiatives. Those initiatives are titled: Strategy & Innovation, Development, Partnerships & Teams, and Pipeline. At a glance, the initiatives will address the following opportunities and challenges: Strategy & Innovation. Committee chair, Brad Smith, and vice chair, Peter J. Kalis, work to research and develop a robust, new analytical tool to give meaningful, sophisticated insight into the actual diversity of law firms and corporate legal departments. The objective of this committee’s work will be to delve more deeply than quantitative measurements and “rankings.” Partnerships & Teams. Committee vice chair, Michael Blair and the rest of the committee work to identify, analyze and promote successful diversity partnering efforts. The focus is on projects and programs that encourage collaboration between law firms, corporate legal departments, and other organizations with a commitment to diversity. Development. Committee chair, Deborah P. Majoras, and vice chair, Gary Sasso, work to ensure the development of diverse critical talent, create ongoing programs to allow members to present and learn about successful programs for the development of diverse critical talent. Pipeline. Evaluate and support programs that encourage the entry of individuals of diverse backgrounds into the field of law. The committee with the help of its chair, Laura Stein, and vice chair, Sandra Leung, will accomplish its objectives through collaboration with organizations committed to a more diverse profession. Taken as a whole, the work of the four LCLD board committees will support the LCLD’s stated goal to “. . .work in partnership to eliminate impediments and provide minorities and women with a full and fair opportunity to perform, to succeed, and to lead.” Statistics on Diversity in the Legal Profession: -Percentage of law firm partners who were minority females in 2011: 2.04 -Percentage of law firm partners who were white in 2011: 93.4 -Year that the first woman joined the Supreme Court: 1981 -Percentage of lawyers with physical disabilities in 2010: 0.23 -Percentage of persons with disabilities in the United States in 2010: 17.8 DANNY ORTEGA OF ORTEGA LAW FIRM, P.C. “I find it particularly rewarding to help people who have been injured or the family of someone who has been killed because of someone’s negligence, especially when you force that at-fault person to accept responsibility for his or her negligence, affect public policy and get compensation for your client,” says Daniel R. Ortega, Jr., owner of Ortega Law Firm, P.C. He is best known as “Danny.” The firm’s practice areas are: automobile and motorcycle accidents, trucking and commercial vehicle accidents, serious injury and wrongful death, police misconduct, medical and professional malpractice and construction site accidents. Ortega has been a lawyer for 35 years and has personally handled hundreds of personal injury cases including a substantial number of litigated cases some of which include jury trials. He has settled a significant number of cases for his clients in excess of a million dollars. For example, he was the primary litigator and co-counsel in a trucking accident case in which a federal jury awarded $10.7 million to the injured victims. He has been listed in Arizona’s Finest Lawyers and Super Lawyers. “Clearly money can never bring back a loved one or make a family whole again, but compensation is what the law provides for holding a person or business entity responsible for its actions. Though the compensation the client may receive from the defendant may help, it is even more gratifying when you have an impact on the public’s safety and welfare,” Ortega says. The firm often takes on cases that are complex and costly in terms of experience and expense. Ortega adds that his firm does not try to practice every facet of the law and prefers to practice only in those areas in which he has the experience and expertise to serve the needs of the client. The Ortega Law Firm has built much of its reputation handling negligence claims that involve death or disabling bodily injuries. Ortega says the time and energy is worth the effort in the end. “It is rewarding to fight for justice, to have your client compensated and have an impact on public safety and welfare,” he says. Ortega has also worked for Roush, McCracken, Guerrero, Miller & Ortega; the Law Offices of Richard J. Trujillo, and Community Legal Services in Phoenix. Ortega is a member of the Arizona State Bar, the American Association of Justice, the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, Maricopa County Bar Association, and Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association. Ortega has also served on the Disciplinary Commission of the Arizona Supreme Court, the Maricopa County Commission on Trial Court Appointments, the Thurgood Marshall Inn of Court Master, Supreme Court Commission on Minorities in the Judiciary, and the board of directors of the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association. Ortega also has a strong record of service to his community. He is the immediate past chair of the board of directors of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. He also serves on the board of directors of the Cesar Chavez Foundation and the Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association. His service to his professional community and the community at large has earned a number of awards, honors and citations, including: the Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Award, Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association Lifetime Achievement Award, Anti-Defamation League Leader of Distinction, Valley Leadership Visionary Award, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Professional of the Year, and the City of Phoenix Eighth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Breakfast “Living the Dream” Community Service Award. “I thoroughly enjoy my work as a lawyer and look forward to coming to work every day and helping people,” he says. JODY A. CORRALES OF GUST ROSENFELD, PLC Jody A. Corrales, of Gust Rosenfeld, says “I understand why people build a practice at Gust Rosenfeld and never leave. It’s a wonderful firm and a great place to come to work every day.” Corrales’ practice focuses on bankruptcy, creditors’ right and general civil litigation. She represents institutional clients, corporations, partnerships and individuals in all areas of creditor and debtor relations. A fourth-generation Tucsonan, Corrales graduated cum laude from the University of Arizona in 2002 with a B.A. in political science and psychology. She earned her J.D. from that same university in 2006 and is licensed to practice in federal and state courts. “Because I am the only associate in the Tucson office, they sometimes refer to me as “the utility player,” Corrales continued. “This has given me the opportunity to gain experience in employment litigation, insurance defense, elder abuse cases, and medical malpractice.” Before joining Gust Rosenfeld, she worked for the nation’s largest consumer bankruptcy firm and was the managing attorney for all the firm’s Arizona offices. Corrales tells her clients to expect excellent service in the most efficient manner possible. She credits her family and heritage for her work ethic and her dedication to her profession. “As an Hispanic female, I know first-hand the stereotypes women and people of color face in today’s society. My brother and I are first generation college graduates and we recognize that our background has not handicapped us. It has made us stronger. We joke all the time that we are so used to battling adversity that we knock down hurdles faster than our colleagues. Nothing fazes us. We owe our fearlessness to our father. We also have enough confidence to fill up a room. We owe this attribute to our mother. She always told us we could be anything we want to be. We bought into her optimism and never looked back. My brother is a television producer for ESPN.” By the third grade, Corrales knew that she wanted to be an attorney. “I would often question the fairness of things and loved advocating on behalf of the underdog or people who were bullied. There is nothing better than telling your client’s story in a way that will convince a judge to rule a certain way because the facts, the law and equity justify it.” Corrales’ husband played linebacker at the University of Arizona and she is an avid Wildcat fan. “Aside from watching U of A sports, I enjoy spending time with our 1 year-old son and our dog,” she said. Corrales devotes considerable time to pro bono endeavors, frequently assisting self-represented litigants in bankruptcy court and federal district court. She also serves as a member of the firm’s diversity committee. Gust Rosenfeld Champions Diversity Gust Rosenfeld, a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, supports and encourages diversity in its hiring practices at every level. This commitment to diversity resonates throughout the firm. The diversity committee, chaired by firm partner Barbara Rodriguez Pashkowski, addresses educational outreach, developments in employment diversity, inhouse educational programs and initiatives, and activities to support the firm’s ongoing commitment to diversity. Lawyers and staff attend a program on this topic each year to increase their awareness of cultural and ethnic differences, disability issues and discrimination. The firm also actively supports the Hispanic National Bar Association’s pipeline program at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. In addition, many Gust Rosenfeld attorneys personally mentor minority law school students, as well as high school and college students who are interested in a career in the legal profession. From hiring to mentoring, Gust Rosenfeld is at the forefront of diversity. Gust Rosenfeld PLC Creditors’ Rights Group Co-chaired by Sean O’Brien and Madeleine Wanslee, Gust Rosenfeld’s creditors’ rights group includes Chris McNichol, Kent Cammack and John Nasr from the Phoenix office, as well as Gerry O’Meara and Jody Corrales of the Tucson office. The broad composition of this practice group exemplifies the firm’s on-going commitment to diversity in gender and culture, expertise and experience. Sean O’Brien, co-chair of the creditors’ rights group and chair of the litigation practice group, focuses on bankruptcy, restructuring, creditors’ rights and related litigation and appeals. O’Brien is board certified in business bankruptcy law by the American Board of Certification and recognized in the bankruptcy and creditordebtor rights law category by top peer review rating services. He is past chair of the bankruptcy law section of the State Bar of Arizona. Madeleine Wanslee, a member of the firm’s executive committee, focuses on creditors’ rights and related appeals. She has argued before the United States Supreme Court, is board certified in consumer bankruptcy law by the American Board of Certification and recognized in the creditor-debtor rights law category by top peer review rating services. Wanslee currently chairs the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Lawyer Representatives. Chris McNichol is co-author of “Ins and Outs of Foreclosures,” considered the pre-eminent book on foreclosures. He co-chairs the firm’s real estate section and focuses on commercial and real estate transactions including sale and purchase, development, lease, title insurance and construction issues and related litigation. He handles creditors’ rights matters including loan workouts, judicial and nonjudicial foreclosures, deeds in lieu, receiverships, deficiency and guarantor actions and bankruptcy. Kent Cammack is co-author of “Ins and Outs of Foreclosure.” Cammack has extensive litigation and trial experience in commercial disputes, real estate, receiverships, lender liability, products liability, landlord/tenant and employment issues, including noncompetition clauses and allegations of sexual harassment. Gerry O’Meara focuses on civil litigation, insurance defense law, real estate, corporate and commercial transactions, probates, wills and trusts. He has been the sole representative of several local credit unions, advising them in all aspects of commercial matters. John Nasr focuses on bankruptcy, restructuring, creditors’ rights and related litigation and appeals. He received a joint J.D./M.B.A. from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and W.P. Carey College of Business. Nasr wrote a definitive article on the Chrysler and TWA bankruptcies (Spring 2013, DePaul Business & Commercial Law Journal). JULIO ZAPATA OF FENNEMORE CRAIG, P.C. Julio Zapata, of Fennemore Craig, is the only bilingual Spanish speaking large law firm partner practicing plaintiffs personal injury law in the State of Arizona. He is licensed to practice law in Arizona and Washington and primarily represents Spanish speaking clients in the area of personal injury and general litigation. Zapata is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell. “When Spanish speaking people call me they get to talk directly with a lawyer and not an interpreter or someone who will need to get back to him or her. Clients don’t like calling their attorney and getting an answering machine. With me, clients don’t get transferred to a paralegal, they talk with me directly,” he says. Fennemore Craig was founded in 1885 and currently has approximately 200 lawyers with law offices in Phoenix, Tucson, Nogales, Las Vegas, Reno and Denver. The firm’s practice areas include product liability, business torts, insurance coverage and bad faith, environment and natural resources, employment, medical negligence defense, personal injury and wrongful death, professional liability, real estate, securities, intellectual property, white collar criminal defense, and tax controversies. Their plaintiff personal injury practice has helped collect tens of millions of dollars for their clients Zapata handles a wide-spectrum of personal injury cases, including cases involving car accidents, truck and tractor-trailer accidents, bus accidents, products liability, product defect cases, pedestrian accidents, wrongful death, head and brain injuries, spinal cord and paralysis injuries, quadriplegia, burns, defectively designed products, claims against bars and restaurants for over-serving alcohol (dram shop cases), police and law enforcement misconduct cases, nursing home abuse cases, elder abuse cases, vulnerable adult cases, premises liability cases, dog bite and animal bite cases. Other practice areas he is involved with include, will and trust litigation in probate representing personal representatives, trustees, and beneficiaries and general litigation in the areas of real estate disputes, partner disputes, and breach of contract. “I find helping people who have suffered a personal loss or personal injury to be extremely rewarding and I feel lucky to be able to practice personal injury law within a large firm,” Zapata says. He adds, “because our firm is large we have the resources to advance the initial and ongoing costs involved with these type of cases.” Zapata says that not only is he in a position to help people resolve their legal disputes, he is also able to make a significant difference in the quality of his clients’ personal lives. “For example, I recently represented a quadriplegic resulting from a vehicle rollover accident. The roof of the car caved in and broke his neck while he was seat-belted. I was able to achieve a large favorable settlement for the family, which has made a huge difference in their quality of life,” he says. Zapata decided to become a lawyer when he was thirteen years old. He was a paper boy for the Orange County Register and had won a vocational scholarship for $500. During the interview he expressed a desire to someday become a lawyer. Even at such an early age he had come to the realization that helping people through a professional career would be a good life choice. “My parents, who were migrant field workers in the 1950’s – early 1960’s, were also influential as we did not have much, but they seemed to always have something for others who needed help.” His parents’ beliefs helped develop their son’s dedication to serving people through the law. “The most rewarding part of the practice is the ability to help people when they most need it. After my first personal injury case I was hooked and have been representing those in need ever since,” he says. Zapata says, “Having represented clients on the defense side gives me an edge in understanding how the other side thinks and operates. Knowing the critical points that defense attorneys focus on and how they operate in handling a defense case makes me a better plaintiffs’ lawyer. In the end, this combination has allowed me to maximize the value of a case for the ultimate benefit of my clients.” JOSE M. LEON OF THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSE M. LEON, PLLC Acareer as an attorney was always in the destiny of Jose Leon, of the Law Office of Jose M. Leon, PLLC. “At a very young age I had the nickname of ‘licenciado,’” says Leon. It was his father’s business associates and friends who had dubbed the young man an attorney. In Spanish, licenciado means lawyer. “I’m assuming I was a talkative little kid at the time.” Leon’s legal firm focuses on civil litigation, specifically in injury and wrongful death. He also performs some probate work. The firm’s slogan is “Advice when you need it most” and a guiding principle is to carefully lead clients through the appropriate legal case or process by making the right decisions from the beginning to obtain the best possible results. “I have focused my practice on civil litigation with the focus on complex injury and wrongful death claims. I thankfully have been able to keep my client base in this practice area. Even though the majority of my clients come from vehicle collisions, I do have claims related to product and premises liability, employment negligence and government claims,” he says. Leon states that his personalized approach to individual clients and his ability to communicate clearly with those clients differentiates him from many other attorneys. He takes pride in the efforts he makes to educate his clients and to make sure they remain engaged from the initial contact to the conclusion of the matter. Leon says, “It’s important to me that they feel like a part of what is going on, since I am handling their legal issues. I like to leave my clients with the feeling that they were able to successfully get through the case with a partner and advocate who cared to get them the best result.” Leon works to make sure the client sees him as a partner in the process. Accessibility is another trait of Leon and his firm. He notes that he and the firm have a number of clients who feel comfortable to bring any legal issue to their attention. “They know that even though I may not practice in other areas of the law, that they can contact me to get them started towards obtaining the right attorney. They know that I am ’their’ lawyer and that our relationship will last longer than the claim that I currently handle. I believe that what I do hinges on that idea.” Leon always expressed an entrepreneurial spirit and throughout college knew he would someday own his own business. Yet, he didn’t feel the proverbial call of destiny that led him to the law until working in the secondary mortgage market department of an Arizona bank with a Texas territory. State regulations require that residential real estate transactions be reviewed by an attorney in Texas. That type of work sparked his interest in the law and propelled him to getting his law degree. He began his legal career working for a small group of attorneys practicing in many areas, which provided the opportunity to experiment with different types of cases. Eventually he gravitated toward the practice area of personal injury law. He moved on to a mid-sized firm where he gained experience, sharpened those skills and built good foundation on the ins and outs of personal injury. Two years later he took the first steps toward creating his own law firm. As he has achieved success in his career, he strives to meet his own personal goals. As a member of the community, he strives to give some of his personal success back to others. Scottsdale Active 20/30 Club is a children’s charity foundation he joined. This foundation raises money for various charitable groups. Comprised of 50 volunteers, Leon sees their combined efforts as extremely rewarding. “We get to award money to charities where we can make a large impact on the lives of children.” While he strives to help the community in his spare time, Leon still sees the value in his daily work. Leon says, “The most rewarding thing about being an attorney is the satisfaction of being able to help a client through the complexities of laws associated with their legal issue. In injury law, you find that there is so much more to a case than just the medical treatment. Sometimes getting the settlement is half the battle. The claim may require analysis of federal and state laws to identify medical reimbursement rights, child support, bankruptcy, and other lien rights. This job allows me to teach and guide a client through these issues – to really provide ‘advice when you need it most.’” VISHNU R. JONNALAGADDA, ESQ. OF RIDENOUR, HIENTON & LEWIS, PLLC Vishnu R. Jonnalagadda, Esq., of Ridenour, Hienton & Lewis, P.L.L.C., represents clients before bankruptcy, state and federal courts in workouts; fraudulent transfers and preferences; stay relief litigation; reorganization plan objections and confirmation issues; lease assumptions and rejections; non-discharge of debt; “363” or asset sales; reclamation, set-off, and recoupment; receiverships; and partnership or business disputes. He provides a broad range of legal expertise to financial institutions, secured and unsecured creditors, receivers, franchisers, equipment lessors, real estate landlords, business owners, corporate debtors, bankruptcy trustees, political subdivisions and political bodies, agricultural institutions, and other clients. “My practice derived naturally from my business experience as a former consultant with two of the former big five accounting firms, and my finance and legal education from University of Texas at Austin. Because of these experiences and education, I developed an ability to conceptually understand the relationship between law and business,” says Jonnalagadda. He credits his ability to understand the motivations of his clients as a major factor in his success as an attorney. “I faced significant discrimination at a young age as a first-generation immigrant and also a minority of East Indian descent. In turn, I developed a mindset of creating honest relationships with people without any judgments or pre-conceived notions.” Jonnalagadda believes that because of the competitive nature of the legal practice backed by fine legal education, clients are able to easily find well-educated, capable attorneys. However, he notes that direct, sincere and personal relationships between lawyers and clients is often lacking. To avoid this dilemma, Jonnalagadda works diligently at building and maintaining close relationships with all of his clients. “I like when my clients call me on a Sunday to talk about their legal matters, vent their frustrations about their business, or simply get my take on the basketball game they watched the night before. I find it troubling that, in a progressive society, attorneys are becoming too rigid in their communications, resorting only to impersonal e-mails and social media. I often wonder whatever happened to simply picking up the phone or having lunch with people to maintain relationships. Indeed, doing so has been very rewarding to me.” His clients have come to expect and receive clear, concise and timely communication about their legal matters. He believes that communication is the key to success in personal and business relationships. “I am often taken by how much useful knowledge I obtain by simply asking the right questions, and take pride in doing so without shying away. I keenly listen to my client’s answers to apply their information and vision to a particular matter. When I communicate a strategy, my clients often tell me how they appreciate my listening and incorporating their information and ideas,” he says. Before becoming an attorney, Jonnalagadda worked as a senior management analyst for Arthur Anderson in its Houston office, and witnessed first-hand the demise of that firm during the Enron accounting scandals. He says, “It was then, in painfully observing the fraud prosecution of Arthur Andersen, and attempting to break apart the sophisticated Enron transactions and accounting irregularities, that I became fascinated with the intimate intersection between law and business. That was when I knew I wanted to become a corporate lawyer.” The change in careers has proven to be successful and enjoyable. “I approach a legal case very similar to a business case, so I often first analyze a legal case to its bare elements of simple transactions. After doing so, I am able to develop a strategy based on sound legal reasoning. Along the way, I like to educate my clients about their cases and the developed strategy. Surprisingly, while I am educating them, they often teach me that there are better business alternatives to my legal strategies. This back-and-forth sharing of information and solutions is what I find particularly rewarding as an attorney.” Outside of the office, you can find Jonnalagadda enjoying jazz performances around the town. “I grew up listening to classical and jazz music on a record player my uncle graciously donated to me,” he said. It was Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album, however, that sealed his fate as a jazz fan. Growing up also involved endless games of pick-up basketball at local parks. While he’s been told that he has a “mean three pointer,” his abilities have been put to better use serving his clients. ERNEST CALDERÓN OF RIDENOUR, HIENTON, & LEWIS Ernest Calderón, a partner at Ridenour, Hienton & Lewis, practices in the areas of education law, mediation law, employment law counseling & investigations, appellate law, commercial litigation, administrative law, public procurement law, construction law and professional licensing law. He has practiced law for 30 years and is honored to join Ridenour, Hienton & Lewis as he knows they put the client first. “It doesn’t get any better than that,” Calderón says, speaking of his history with the firm. Calderón represents a wide spectrum of clients, from individuals and small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. He represents cities, counties and school districts. “I have a diversity of clients and cases,” began Calderón. “My job is never boring. I am fortunate to have loyal clients whom I admire,” he says. He has practiced law for more than 30 years in Arizona’s state courts, Arizona’s U.S. District Court and the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. He is an “AV Preeminent” rated lawyer by Martindale & Hubbell and is a member of the prestigious American Law Institute; is a founding fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America; a fellow of the American Bar Foundation; has served two terms on the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments; and has served as a delegate in the American Bar Association House of Delegates. He has served as a judge pro tempore of the Arizona Superior Court and the Arizona Court of Appeals and as a Special Master and arbitrator. He is a past president of the State Bar of Arizona and is president emeritus of the Arizona Board of Regents. Calderón is a six generation native of the New Mexico Territory (New Mexico and Arizona). He learned at a very early age the importance of the law, of attorneys and how the law can be an effective means to equalize justice for individuals, families and organizations. “I was born and raised in Morenci and when I was growing up, we lived in segregated housing,” Calderón explained. At that time, he had two career options. He could become a priest or a lawyer. Calderón admits that the idea of a life in the priesthood died when he was in the seventh grade. “I am a better lawyer than I would be a priest.” Working as a laborer solidified his desire to become a professional, specifically a professional in the law. “I worked in a copper mine. I admire the men who work there and do the same job, the same way, day after day. I could not handle the repetitiveness.” That is why he is so grateful for his position. In this profession, every day is different and I get to help people who believe they have no place to turn. Most importantly, the law has helped me equalize injustices others have suffered.” Calderón was raised with a solid work ethic that now translates into genuine benefits for each client. My clients know from the beginning that I will explain every aspect of their case to them. They know that I will get my work done in a timely manner. Our clients know that I will provide them with the most cost effective solution even if it means that I have to turn down the case or refer them out. “Everyone gets my very best.” My clients don’t need to worry about getting in touch with me. “Communication will not be a problem. They will also get a private, unvarnished assessment of their problem with positive suggestions for a solution. The client will also know that I am appreciative that they have entrusted their legal care to me.” Outside of the office, Calderón can be found enjoying the outdoors and the hiking opportunities. With both of his sons at his side, he takes advantage of his abilities as an Eagle Scout. The draw of the great outdoors does not keep him from contributing some of his time to other community activities. He has served for more than eight years as a regent and is active in many areas from sports to the arts to academic symposia. When it comes to his career, however, he remains focused. He remembers why he joined the profession, to help others. Calderón says, “This is a great profession. I get a real ‘high’ when I help a client out of a difficulty or help her realize her dream. Lawyers help people. I am honored to have served as State Bar of Arizona president because of the good our profession does for people.” KATHIE J. GUMMERE, ATTORNEY AT LAW Kathie J. Gummere, a Phoenix attorney, focuses her legal practice on estate planning and document preparation for both individuals and families. Gummere works with a varied clientele, ranging from gay and lesbian couples, to married and unmarried couples with or without children, to elderly and probate clients. Her goal is to get her clients the documents they need to protect their families and their wishes. While her decision to become an attorney can’t be considered a “spur of the moment” choice, the action was the result of a flash of inspiration. “I had just left a job as a flight attendant when a friend asked what I would be if I could be anything I wanted,” Gummere explains. She responded immediately. She wanted to be a lawyer. While she was at first surprised by her instant response, she admits that, “the more I thought about it, the more I realized that was what I wanted to be.” Her first exposure to the profession as a corporate law attorney did not live up to her expectations. Disappointed, she left the practice and applied to nursing school. For five years, she focused her attention on nursing, primarily on end-of-life care with a hospice. It was during those years, that inspiration struck again. “Seeing how families ignored patient’s wishes when there were no controlling documents made me decide to go back to practicing law, focusing on the same end-of-life issues that affected my hospice patients.” “I believe that my nursing background makes me particularly understanding of the need for end-of-life planning and for the problems faced by those who have disabilities or life-altering conditions, as well as those who are just starting a family and want to be prepared,” Gummere explains. “I enjoy working with elderly clients and am very comfortable speaking with them about end-of-life choices and taking the time to explain concepts to them in a way they understand.” In fact, Gummere currently serves as a resource for social workers of Hospice of the Valley and Hospice of Arizona, answering legal questions regarding hospice patients and their families. When Gummere reentered the legal field, she knew she couldn’t walk the traditional route and join with another firm. “Because of my age and independent streak, I went solo,” she says. The little house off of Woodland Avenue offers a unique setting for a law office. Built in 1916, the home is quaint and unassuming with hardwood floors and a homey atmosphere. Clients park on the street and are greeted by Gummere and her legal assistant. Together, they operate a thorough and organized practice. They take the time to make sure each client understands their options and how the documents work. “It’s just my assistant and me—oh, and the dog,” says Gummere. While a little unconventional, Gummere has seen the miracles her dog, Sunny (affectionately known as the Barry Bonds of Lhasa Apso), brings to her firm. As in hospitals, Sunny’s presence offers a calming effect to Gummere’s practice. “Normally, he stays in my office during meetings, but if a client is particularly stressed, I ask if they would like to have him join us,” Gummere begins. “Many have said yes, and I can see their stress levels dissipate as they start to pet the quiet, tail-wagging Sunny.” When she’s not working with her clients, Gummere brings her work ethic to help address various community needs. She has been active in the Arizona Human Rights Fund (AHRF), the sexual orientation and gender identity committee of the State Bar of Arizona, the ethics committee of Hospice of Arizona, the professionalism course committee of the state bar, the peer review committee and the board of the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library. Above all, Gummere admits that her biggest concern is making the “process as easy and painless as possible for my clients,” which is why she’s pleased to welcome her clients into the relaxed atmosphere of her office. She is rewarded by her decision to give the profession another shot every time she “helps someone plan for what they want to happen when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.” She is pleased to give her clients the “peace of mind that their affairs will be handled quickly, efficiently and in the manner they have chosen;” something she wishes her patients could’ve benefitted from. MATTHEW L. LOPEZ OF MATTHEW LOPEZ LAW, PLLC Matthew Lopez Law, PLLC, is active in the practice areas of Arizona DUI, criminal defense, and personal injury, offering services statewide on a 24/7 basis. “My firm stays incredibly busy aggressively representing clients with criminal defense and personal injury cases. No case is too big or small. We treat each client with the highest level of respect, provide individualized attention and work hard to provide quality results,” Lopez says. Lopez did not plan on a career in the law. He graduated at the top of his class from Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business and was recruited by several Fortune 500 companies, eventually accepting a position at Pulte Homes. When the real estate market declined, Lopez realized that he did not want to spend his career “bouncing around” from position to position. He says, “I decided that being a lawyer would not only provide me with an opportunity to work in an industry for a very long time doing what I enjoy, but would allow me to leave a legacy.” While his law license was pending, Lopez clerked for a civil litigation firm assisting with employment law matters. During this time, he was introduced to a criminal defense attorney who was winding down her practice and needed someone to cover her hearings. During his free time he shadowed and met with her to learn as much as possible about criminal law. When he received his license, Lopez began covering a majority of her hearings and was soon well-known within the criminal defense community. In a relatively short period of time he was covering hearings for approximately ten attorneys. He carefully built his own criminal defense practice, which now ranges from misdemeanor speeding cases to serious felony drug cases. As his criminal practice expanded, he would periodically receive personal injury cases, a practice area he was briefly exposed to during law school. As his experience grew in this area, so did his clientele. Lopez says, “Applying my general knowledge of personal injury law with my very close relationship with long-time personal injury attorney, Frederick Berry, I gradually built a successful personal injury practice. My personal injury cases have ranged from soft tissue injuries to death cases.” Lopez prides himself on his work ethic and on being honest, hard-working, and his ability to relate to his clients. “I understand that most of my clients have never dealt with an attorney and are intimidated by the legal process. At our initial consultations, I tell my clients that it is impossible for them to ask too many questions. I encourage them to call or email anytime and that someone from my firm will answer their questions in a timely manner.” He finds that the best part of being an attorney is listening to his clients’ concerns and using his experience, legal skills and resources to devise effective solutions to their problems. “It is humbling when clients come to my office and have enough trust and confidence to confide in me. I am grateful to have exceptional clients that I truly care about and look forward to helping,” he says. Lopez’s interests outside of the legal arena include sports and family. “I have been playing golf since I was tall enough to swing a club. My wife and I are adventurous and enjoy traveling and exploring. We have begun our biggest adventure with the recent arrival of our daughter, Penelope.” His focus in the business world, however, is on his clients and in serving their varied needs. “Having clients understand that I am not just an attorney, but a counselor who is deeply concerned about their wellbeing, makes them comfortable with my representation and gives them the confidence to know that I will do everything in my power to ensure they receive the best possible outcome,” Lopez says. BOOKER T. EVANS OF GALLAGHER & KENNEDY, P.A. Booker T. Evans, who recently joined Gallagher & Kennedy in Phoenix as a shareholder, focuses his practice on the areas of white collar crime and commercial litigation in state and criminal courts. He is experienced in the areas of criminal defense, commercial litigation, product liability, insurance matters, criminal and civil RICO cases, and health care matters. His criminal practice has its foundation in the early years of his career when he worked as a deputy district attorney in Las Vegas, Nevada and later as an assistant United States attorney in Nevada and Arizona. The civil side of his practice developed because most law firms at that time did not handle criminal matters. He is admitted to practice in Arizona and Nevada and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. “I had significant trial experience, so the first firm I worked at wanted to put my experience to good use. I was tasked with learning civil practice rules. Once I was comfortable with the civil rules, the experience I had from being in court on serious criminal matters allowed me to adjust very quickly to trying civil cases. I enjoy the individual representation associated with criminal law: the constitutional issues that often surface both pre-trial and post- trial; and the competitive nature of hearings and trials,” Evans says. Evans has substantial civil and criminal trial experience having tried cases involving allegations of defective products, bad faith on the part of insurance carriers, disputes over real estate holdings and trademark infringement as well as a number of cases involving allegations of criminal conduct. He also handles post-conviction cases in federal courts and is often retained in matters involving the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. His client base is varied and includes local businesses, large national firms, and international corporations. Evans says, “In most instances, the individuals I represent are either under investigation, or have been charged with a criminal or civil offense by a state or federal government agency. I also represent business entities that bring lawsuits to protect their business interests and I defend entities that have been sued by individuals or other business entities.” Evans became interested in the law as a profession while working as a psychologist at the Las Vegas Mental Health Center in 1973. “While in family counseling sessions, I concluded that a law degree would allow me to be a more effective advocate in solving problems because many of the issues facing my clients were rooted in legal issues. I believed that becoming a lawyer would allow me to impact both the individual and systemic needs of people similarly situated,” he says. Evans is a hands-on litigator who often invests time at a client’s business learning how it operates while conducting research on how similar businesses operate. “My clients can expect each matter to receive my full attention. I make an effort to learn as much as I can about the clients’ business and/or the facts and circumstances that caused them to either want to bring an action or that created the situation where they must now defend an action brought against them. When the matter involves a single incident involving an individual, I like to visit the scene so that I better understand where and how the incident occurred. I find this to be particularly helpful in criminal matters and in civil matters where a specific incident forms the basis for the lawsuit,” Evans says. Evans finds the practice of law a privilege and a constant learning experience. “Each case presents both challenges and opportunity. I enjoy the process and I enjoy the practice of law. My practice is one that is directed at reaching the truth and constantly seeking a just result for the clients who retain me. I consider it an honor to be retained to be an advocate for a person in a forum where they are not able to effectively represent their own interests.” SNELL & WILMER: BEST PRACTICE AWARD FOR DIVERSITY & INCLUSION A Strategic Pursuit Towards ‘One Community, Identity of Many’ Over its 75-year history, Snell & Wilmer has grown from its headquarters in Phoenix to add eight offices throughout the western United States and in Mexico. That expansion has resulted in Snell & Wilmer emerging as a nationally recognized firm, with the capability and resources to serve thousands of clients domestically and abroad. Indeed, many of those clients are not only diverse in terms of their respective industries, but also in their composition of people. Similarly, as the firm expanded, the diversity of the firm grew with it. In explaining what diversity means to Snell & Wilmer, John Bouma, the firm’s chairman, says, “I have always felt that the best solution often emerges from diversity of perspective, thought and talent. Diversity is about people—the similarities that bind us and the differences that enrich us, which in turn reveal individuals who make a difference.” Bouma, however, is quick to point out that diversity cannot exist in a vacuum, but rather requires an environment for individualism to thrive: “Diversity needs inclusion, which is about making sure members of the firm know they belong and are respected, valued and appreciated for who they are as individuals.” These statements from Bouma expose a nuanced understanding of diversity and inclusion, and the idea that effective programs start from the upper echelons of management. Snell & Wilmer has more than a diversity and inclusion program; it has a strategic framework that blankets the firm’s infrastructure. Again, Bouma explains, “Snell & Wilmer has long believed diversity and inclusion are important. Not only are they important components of our commitment to be a compelling place to work, they are also important components of our endeavor to consistently provide superior legal services.” While leaders at other law firms may share Bouma’s keen understanding of diversity and inclusion, the commitment to addressing those matters often falls short of execution. To ensure that wasn’t the case at Snell & Wilmer, the firm created the diversity outreach group more than a decade ago, which ultimately evolved into the committee on diversity & inclusion. The committee, led today by Snell & Wilmer attorney Manuel H. Cairo, strives to build upon the firm’s commitment to these matters by bringing additional focus and clarity to the firm’s efforts. Cairo states, “that through much research, the committee developed a strategic plan with articulated key initiatives that provide vision, focus and clarity with a long-term view towards advancing diversity and inclusion in a balanced and holistic fashion. We also developed vision, mission and value statements so that diversity and inclusion efforts remain innovative, relevant and fully aligned with the firm’s overall business objectives.” The use of strategic planning sessions could lead one to think Snell & Wilmer is in the business of diversity and inclusion. For example, the statements send powerful messages about the role of diversity and inclusion in the firm’s culture and overall business strategy. The mission statement reads: “By honoring the unique qualities of individuals, educating our colleagues and building meaningful alliances, Snell & Wilmer promotes a diverse group of qualified professionals that reflect the communities in which we live and the clients we serve.” The vision statement succinctly describes Snell & Wilmer’s direction: “One Community, Identity of Many.” The committee adopted the firm’s value statement to reaffirm Bouma’s desire that diversity and inclusion are intertwined with the firm’s overall infrastructure. This approach has resulted in an impressive communication of Snell & Wilmer’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion. The firm has a vibrant website enforced with clear statements of its commitment to diversity and inclusion and a comprehensive cataloging of the firm’s existing diversity and inclusion efforts, including formal activities. Its latest effort is the Fellowship for Advancement and Resources (“FAR”), an expansion of a scholarship program the firm implemented in 2009 that has assisted 13 diverse students study and pay for the law school entrance exam. FAR is a pipeline program aimed at providing fellows with a number of important benefits, including those of the scholarship, designed to increase the likelihood of the fellows’ acceptance to, and success in, law school and beyond. The firm intends to develop additional efforts towards addressing their key initiatives. Snell & Wilmer’s approach to diversity and inclusion has strengthened its long-standing commitment to both ideas and reaffirms similar programs and beliefs held by stakeholders. The approach also allows it to develop metrics to assess its efforts and conduct a regular performance analysis designed to ensure dynamic and balanced action. Snell & Wilmer’s outside-the-box efforts are commendable and serve as an example for others.
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