Meet the 2017 Board of Governors Candidates

The Board of Governors elections are conducted online. Does the State Bar have your email address of record? (Rule 32(c)(3), Ariz.R.S.Ct.)

Elections will be held this year in the following Board Districts:

  • District 6 - Maricopa County - nine seats
  • District 8 - Pinal County - one seat

Recent amendments to Rule 32, Ariz.R.S.Ct.:

• Effective January 1, 2017, Active out-of-state Members may vote in the District of their most recent Arizona residence or place of business or, if none, in Bar District 6. (Rule 32(e)(2)(D))

• Effective 2019, all sitting Governors’ terms conclude and elections will be held in all eight Board Districts.  In Districts with more than one Governor, and in certain Districts, the Governors’ terms will be staggered.  Incumbents would be eligible to run for re-election. (Rule 32(e)(2) and (4))

The candidates, their bios and their responses to the following questions follow.

Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

The online election will launch on May 4 and will close at 5 p.m. on May 19.

For questions, please contact Carrie Sherman at 602.340.7201 or carrie.sherman@staff.azbar.org. 

Meet the candidates
* = incumbent

 

District 6: Maricopa County

Photo of Alexander Y. Benikov
Alexander Y. Benikov
The Law Office of Alexander Y. Benikov, P.L.L.C.

Mr. Benikov is a criminal defense lawyer, law professor, author, and international lecturer. Mr. Benikov opened The Benikov Law Firm upon graduating law school and has run the practice for the past eight years. Mr. Benikov has also served as Special Prosecutor in Arizona.

Mr. Benikov has received numerous awards from lawyer recognition associations including Super Lawyers, American Trial Lawyers, Phoenix Magazine and Martindale-Hubbell, AVVO, Phoenix Top Lawyers, and America's Best Lawyers.  Mr. Benikov had also been an Adjunct Law Professor at Arizona Summit Law School for the past five years.  Mr. Benikov has authored three legal books including his new title How To Start a Law Practice. Mr. Benikov has lectured nationally and internationally and recently spoke in China and Dubai.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

I am interested in running because I want to be a voice for solo and young lawyers. I know the challenges facing many new lawyers as they struggle to find work and to launch their legal careers. The legal profession is changing at a very rapid pace and the State Bar of Arizona needs to help new and experienced lawyers prepare for the changes that are coming. The changing legal market for lawyers is a monumental issue facing all lawyers. Having run my own practice for the past eight years, I am well aware of this looming issue.

If elected I will address these issues in several ways: first, by developing education courses that not only deal with substantive law; second, help lawyers with the business and money making sides of their practices; and third, develop more programs for new lawyers.

I believe it is harder for lawyers to succeed today than in any point in recent history. The State Bar of Arizona must do everything possible to help all lawyers succeed in a rapidly changing legal market.

Photo of Tyler J. Carrell
Tyler J. Carrell
Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A.

Tyler Carrell, a real estate and commercial finance attorney at Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A., previously served on the State Bar Board of Governors and is a current member of the Maricopa County Bar Association (MCBA) Board of Directors.  In 2015, Tyler Carrell became the first attorney in Arizona history to serve concurrently as the President of the State Bar and the MCBA Young Lawyers Division.  Tyler is also a volunteer member on the State Bar Program Review Committee and the MCBA Law Day Committee.  Tyler is passionate about helping Arizona lawyers prepare for the growing challenges in the legal profession, and is especially focused on issues affecting lawyers nearing retirement and younger lawyers developing their practice while facing large law school debt.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

I seek the honor of continuing my service to the bar, its members, and the public because I believe my experience in bar leadership and understanding of the challenges facing the legal profession can provide a unique perspective to the Board of Governors.  The State Bar of Arizona must continue to evolve in order to remain relevant to its members.  In my time on the Board of Governors and as a current member of the Maricopa County Bar Association (MCBA) Board of Directors, I have emphasized the need for quality programming and services, provided by using the most modern and efficient methods.  The legal profession is facing new challenges from many directions, and I believe that the Bar must be proactive in order to best serve its members and the public.  My objective is to help ensure that the bar and the Arizona legal profession is best prepared to serve the public, and to make sure that lawyers can provide quality work despite growing concerns such as succession planning, law school debt, and work/life balance.

Photo of Richard D. Coffinger
*Richard D. Coffinger
Attorney at Law

I have been a SBA member for 45 years.  I served as president of the Young Lawyers Division Maricopa County Bar Association (1978), the Young Lawyers Division of the SBA (1979), and the West Maricopa County Bar Association (1995).  I have had a solo criminal defense practice in Glendale for over 43 years, and previously served as a prosecutor.  I have been certified by the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization as a lawyer specializing in criminal law for 25 years, and previously listed in the Southwest Super Lawyers magazine for Arizona and New Mexico under criminal law in 2007-2009.  I am an Arizona native.  I graduated from Central High School (1965), Phoenix College (1967), ASU (1969) and ASU College of Law (Third Class) in 1972.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

I have been honored to serve for 12 years as an elected attorney from Maricopa County on the 26 voting member BOG.  I would appreciate your vote for re-election.

I supported continuing to provide members with printed membership directories.  I opposed the dues increases for the past three years based on annual budget surpluses and the new Public Service Center (PSC), which would provide digital statewide referrals to prospective new clients from attorneys paying the SBA a fee.  I opposed the PSC because of its estimated cost - $180K in 2017 budget – its impact on the Lawyer Referral Services now provided by the Maricopa and Pima County Bar Associations, and because participating attorneys are not required to have malpractice insurance.

I am most proud of my BOG work in the principle drafting – assisted by the late, great Steven A. Hirsch – of the SBA's comment to the former Justice Rebecca White Berch-chaired Task Force on Bar Governance proposal.  The BOG opposed removing as a voting member the YLD president – which office I held in 1979 – and reducing from 19 to 11 the elected attorney voting members.  The Supreme Court rejected most of the Task Force recommendations we opposed.

Photo of Thomas A. Connelly
Thomas A. Connelly
Beus Gilbert, P.L.L.C.

After working my way through law school at night, and graduating with honors at the end of those four years, I began my career as a prosecutor in Cook County, Illinois, where I gained valuable trial experience that would suit me well when I later joined Beus Gilbert PLLC where I have had the privilege of often times pursuing recoveries for victims of accounting and financial frauds.  Between those two litigation experiences, I was an in-house counsel at MicroAge, Inc., a Fortune 300 company and the largest employer in Arizona at that time.  This well-rounded experience has prepared me nicely to serve my Bar colleagues and the people of Arizona on the Board of Governors.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

The opportunity to serve my fellow lawyers and society-at-large is the driving impetus behind my decision to run for election to the Board of Governors.  The Bar faces many important issues – including the intersection of technology and the law, finding more efficient ways of delivering cost-effective legal services to those in need and issues concerning the regulation of the profession brought on by increasing globalization – for which my mix of professional and legal experience will provide a solid base for me to be a valuable contributor on the Board.  As with any other issues that came before the Board in the execution of its duties, I would give serious and deep consideration, and actively participate in any discussions and debate, to all potential solutions in the quest to find the best workable solution.

Photo of David Wm. Engelman
David Wm. Engelman
Engelman Berger, P.C.

I have been an attorney licensed in Arizona since 1975.  I was a solo practitioner for 25 years, and have been a partner in the firm of Engelman Berger, PC since 1999.  My law practice is limited to the field of commercial law, with an emphasis on bankruptcy and creditor rights.  A detailed biography can be viewed at www.eblawyers.com.

Volunteering has been a lifelong passion.  For nearly 40 years I have worked with the Volunteer Lawyers Program providing financial and debt counseling to its clients.  I have served on many charitable boards, and currently serve on the Volunteer Lawyers Program Advisory Board.

My hobbies are jogging, hiking, gardening, reading, music and travel.  My passion is for causes advancing justice and equality.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

Having practiced law in Arizona for 40 years, I have acquired certain wisdom and experience.  With the goal of improving upon the excellent legal community in Arizona, I offer my wisdom and experience as a Board of Governor.

As an outsider of the board, three issues seem significant and interesting to me.  The legal system is closed off to many people, for economic and noneconomic reasons alike.  With governmental resources dwindling, the state bar needs to be creative and resourceful in opening the doors of legal justice to all communities.  I would work to make our legal system accessible to as many as possible.

The state bar provides wonderful programming, support and benefits to its members.  But particularly in regards to young members, the state bar should offer more.  Many young lawyers need guidance and support in their law practices.  I would encourage the development of a mentorship program that would reach all interested members.

Finally, our form of constitutional democracy requires an independent judiciary.  Without regard to political persuasion or current events, the judiciary must be empowered to render decisions based upon the law.  I encourage the state bar's efforts to support this goal.

Photo of Steven L. Evans
Steven L. Evans
Evans Dukarich, L.L.P.

I was born, raised, and educated in Arizona (B.S., Economics, ASU, 1986; J.D., ASU, 1989).  I've experienced the practice of law in the Phoenix area from many perspectives – large firm, solo firm, and my current small firm.  I litigate personal injury, professional liability, and contested probate matters.  Over 26-plus years I've tried many cases, for both plaintiffs and defendants, and I continue to litigate and try civil cases and appear frequently in probate court -- I appreciate the issues facing the courts and the lawyers who appear there.  With that variety of experience, my goal is to improve the Bar's service to its members and the public and to promote our image as professionals doing good work for our clients and our community.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

I am running for the Board of Governors because I believe that firms of all sizes need to be represented on the Board to bring and maintain a balanced perspective to the Bar's response to the attacks that threaten our profession.

The State Bar is under attack from inside and out.  Some members feel that the Bar is corrupt, with no concern for the "little guy" membership.  The public doesn't understand well what we do and that breeds contempt. These concerns deserve to be studied and addressed.  All members deserve to be properly served, and the public needs to understand that we don't exist merely to protect our own interests. 

Some think the answer is to eliminate the Bar as a self-regulated entity; I disagree.  We should fix the problems that contribute to misconceptions about what we do, how we do it, and why so we can serve the members and the public better.  We shouldn't, however, burn down the house in the process.  To continue to serve we must retain the privilege of self-governance, and to do that we must act to assure our members and the public that we are listening and taking their concerns seriously.

Photo of Thomas A. Gilson
Thomas A. Gilson
Beus Gilbert, P.L.L.C.

I have practiced law in Maricopa County for 13 years, first with Lewis and Roca, and now with Beus Gilbert.  For the last 10 years, I have been active in the leadership of the American Bar Association's Section of Litigation, assisting with CLE programming, increasing membership in the Section, and helping ABA committees sharpen and achieve their goals.  As a graduate of the Juilliard School, I remain passionate about classical music and have served as a member of the Phoenix Symphony Board of Directors.  Before moving to sunny Arizona, I lived in Washington, DC for eight years, serving as a law clerk for two federal judges and working as an associate at Skadden Arps.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

I am most concerned about improving professionalism and civility; maintaining an independent judiciary; improving access to justice; and promoting respect for the rule of law.  If elected, I would press for increased ethics training and resources and would work to spread the word about the Bar's excellent ethics hotline.  I also believe the Bar should provide additional support for lawyers who are stressed and overwhelmed, particularly those who suffer from substance abuse.  As a recent judicial candidate, I strongly support merit selection and would continue to do so on the Board of Governors.  I have served for over ten years in the leadership of the ABA's Section of Litigation, working with lawyers around the country to improve our profession.  I hope to continue this important work with the State Bar.  If I am elected, I pledge to listen to your views and advocate for your concerns.  Many thanks for your support.

Photo of Michael Kielsky
Michael Kielsky
Udall Shumway, P.L.C.

Michael Kielsky is a partner at Udall Shumway in Mesa. He is admitted in Arizona, California, and our U.S. District Court. His practice areas include criminal defense and representing clients before professional boards and at administrative hearings. Mr. Kielsky graduated summa and first in class from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2001, where he was a member of Law Review. President of the East Valley Bar Association, 2011-2012 and 2016-2017. Board Member of the Maricopa County Bar Association since 2012. Board Member, Generations After, Descendants of Holocaust Survivors in Greater Phoenix, 2013-17. He was the Libertarian candidate for Maricopa County Attorney in 2008, 2010, and 2012, and has been an officer in the Arizona Libertarian Party since 2004. "Injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere." -MLK

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

The legal profession is under significant pressures from many directions and for many reasons, including economic, political, social, cultural, and advancements in technology.

The Bar must lead the way in the necessary efforts to align our profession with the new realities. Pioneering, championing, and shepherding rule changes to better reflect modern practices must be a part of this, and we must anticipate some of the likely trends that are already looming on the horizon.

The Bar must promote the adoption of new technologies and a revision of rules to match, including expanded use of e-filing, electronic access to court records, and electronic/remote access to courtrooms. The Bar must advocate for expanding the list of those who should be admitted by motion, historically a net benefit for Arizona Bar members and the public.

The Bar must lead in the efforts to expand access to justice without compromising the quality of services, and without engaging in conflicts of interest, by advocating innovative approaches to the delivery of legal services, and expanding the list of legal professionals and para-professionals. But the Bar must also cease engaging in anti-competitive initiatives and programs already provided by the free market.

I will champion these efforts!

Photo of Lawrence Koplow
Lawrence Koplow
Koplow Law Firm

Lawrence Koplow is in private practice focusing in the area of DUI defense. Lawrence's practice involves litigating issues concerning the use of forensic toxicology, metrology and laboratory quality control.  He is a proud graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

Lawrence is a former prosecutor with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and a trial lawyer for over 17 years. In 2015, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice presented him with an "Outstanding Contribution to DUI Defense Award."

Recently, while still in private practice, Lawrence also became Of Counsel to the ASU Alumni Law Group located in the Beus Center for Law and Society.  Lawrence supervises recent graduates of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law in the area of criminal defense.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

We can do better. There are too many people that feel completely disconnected from our State Bar. There are too many people that only think about the Bar when our dues statement comes, or when we see someone we know in the back of its magazine.  For too many people, these events are their only connection to our Bar.

To be candid, I don't know how we got here - a time when so many people feel the State Bar is like an exclusive club within our profession.  Regardless of whether these feelings match the reality of what actually happens at the State Bar, too many of its members feel this way.  Too many people feel they are not part of the club.

However, it does not have to be this way.  We are not obligated to keep the status quo.  We are self-governing.  We choose what we are.  We have the privilege of electing who we want.  If you feel the same as I do, let's act to ensure that we all feel we are in the club.  Let's do better.

 

Photo of Gary M. Kula
Gary M. Kula
City of Phoenix Public Defender's Office

Education: University of Kentucky, 4 years Varsity Baseball; Arizona State University, B.S. Business Administration; Northern Illinois University, J.D. 1985

Work Experience: Law Offices of Self and Giampoli; Maricopa County Public Defender's Office; Law Offices of Gary Kula; City of Phoenix Public Defender's Office

Legal Community Activities: Arizona Veterans Stand Down, 23 years (Executive Committee); Arizona Public Defender Association Conference, 15 years (Chair); Community Legal Services Board of Directors (2000-2007); Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

I welcome the opportunity to serve on the State Bar Board of Governors.  I have been a Public Defender for most of my 31 years of practicing law but have also dealt with the challenges attendant in operating a successful solo practice.

Many members feel that the State Bar's primary focus is the oversight of the disciplinary process.  It is essential that the State Bar change this perception and become more accessible to members who are trying to understand what benefits the State Bar delivers to its members for the substantial dues they pay.

I would bring to the Board my experience in organizing CLE and legal services programs.  The State Bar's CLE offerings must be more affordable and relevant to the unique issues facing attorneys in their everyday practice of law.

The State Bar has the resources and ability to positively impact the personal lives and professional careers of attorneys.  It is time we moved in that direction.

Photo of Robert J. McWhirter
Robert J. McWhirter
The Law Offices of Robert J. McWhirter

Robert J. McWhirter is a nationally and internationally known speaker and author on trial advocacy, immigration law, and the history of the bill of rights.  He is a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law with the State Bar of Arizona and first chair qualified to defend capital cases by the Arizona Supreme Court. 

The American Bar Association has published Mr. McWhirter's books BILLS, QUILLS, AND STILLS: AN ANNOTATED, ILLUSTRATED, AND ILLUMINATED HISTORY OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS 2014; THE CRIMINAL LAWYER'S GUIDE TO IMMIGRATION LAW: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, 2nd Ed. 2006 and THE CITIZENSHIP FLOWCHART, 2007.

Mr. McWhirter practices Criminal Defense and provides expert advice on Immigration Consequences of Criminal Conviction.   

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A 


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

Service to the profession is very important to me.  For nearly 30 years, I have served on numerous boards and committees connected with the Bar and other organizations, including the American Bar Association's Criminal Justice Committee and Standards Committee.  I believe in the legal profession and the State Bar's role in supporting it.   The significant issue facing members today is the public's confidence in the legal profession. I want to do everything I can to attend to this issue, which at its foundation is about supporting the concept of the rule of law.

Photo of Pouria Paknejad
Pouria Paknejad
Smith Paknejad, P.L.C.

I am a trial attorney in Phoenix.  My practice focuses on commercial litigation, personal injury, and election law.  Aside from the practice of law, I enjoy spirited discussions, classic cars, and web design.  As your Board of Governors representative, my goal is to modernize the Bar to work for every one of its members and for the public.

Relevant details about my leadership experience:

•  President, North Phoenix Bar Association (2011 and 2012)
•  Secretary, Litigation Board of the Maricopa County Bar Association
•  Editorial Board, Arizona Attorney Magazine
•  Graduate, Bar Leadership Institute
•  Rated AV-Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell
•  Named Southwest Super Lawyers Rising Star (2016 and 2017)

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

I believe the Bar that governs least governs best.  To that end, I pledge to do the following as your Board of Governors representative:

•  Engage the state legislature to address their concerns regarding the State Bar
•  Protect our independent judiciary from legislative interference
•  Reduce Bar dues through careful examination of its programs
•  Advocate for a modern referral network that benefits our members and the public
•  Increase your access to business through fewer, but better quality networking events

The State Bar can serve its attorneys and serve the public at the same time: these ideals are not diametrically opposed.  I will work on your behalf to educate Arizonans on the value of our work, on the importance of maintaining a self-regulated Bar, and on the indispensability of an independent judiciary.  If you share my vision for the future of the Bar, then I'm asking for your vote.

Photo of Ryan S. Patterson
Ryan S. Patterson
Quarles & Brady, L.L.P.

I'm a partner in the products liability group at Quarles & Brady where I've practiced since law school.  I attended the UofA for undergraduate and law school.  Bear down!  While at the UofA I served as a lobbyist for the Arizona Students Association, which advocates for students at public institutions in Arizona on student issues.  I've been on the UofA Law College Association Board and an active member of the Defense Research Institute.  At Quarles I hold a national leadership position within the products group and am a key member of the recruiting team.  While practicing I've devoted hundreds of volunteer hours to Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix as a basketball coach and a tutor and adopted homeroom parent at Capitol School.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

I am interested in serving because I believe I have a unique perspective to bring to the table that will benefit the Bar's members.  Significant issues facing members today include those associated with an aging bar (Alzheimer's, dementia), a continued lack of diversity in the profession which is being compounded by the reduced number of law school applicants and the debt load facing recent graduates, legislative challenges to the Bar's existence, and data security issues.  I would address these challenges by bringing my leadership and experience to bear on these concerns.  Specifically, my experience in recruiting brings first-hand knowledge about the hurdles facing our profession on the diversity front.  My work at the Arizona Student Association will be beneficial to the membership of the Bar in helping to understand and stave off challenges to the Bar's existence and independence.  I have recent experience with the dramatic effects aging can have on practitioners.  Much more education needs to be done to create awareness of the problems associated with diminished capacity related to aging.  Finally, the risks and costs associated with data security cannot be underestimated.  Educating members on best practices and innovative responses to data security challenges would be a priority.

Photo of Jennifer R. Rebholz
*Jennifer R. Rebholz
Choate & Seletos

I have been an active member of the Arizona Bar and its sister bars for over 10 years most notably in the Young Lawyers Divisions. During the 2012-2013 year, as the President of the Young Lawyers Division, I served on the Board of Governors. I was then elected to serve as a district representative for District 6. I have served as a district representative for the last 3 years. I graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2005, and began my career in Tucson at the firm of James R. Farley & Associates as in-house counsel for Farmers Insurance. I have since relocated to Phoenix within the same firm, now Choate & Seletos.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

If I am re-elected as your representative, I will continue to work to ensure the Bar is working for its members. Over the last three years, we have kept bar dues at the current level and deferred scheduled increases. I will continue to ensure our dues are being spent and invested wisely and remain at a reasonable level so as to prevent the practice from becoming prohibitively expensive for newer lawyers or solo practitioners.

As a member of the MCBA, AADC, and AWLA, I will ensure that our sister bars feel their voices are heard and needs are met. These relationships will be important as the Bar moves forward with new pro bono projects addressing the need for increased access to courts by low income individuals. If re-elected, I will work with the State Bar and our sister bars to ensure we are providing this access in a meaningful manner, one that helps members of the Bar as well as the public.

As attorneys, we need to come together to effectuate positive change in the way the profession is viewed. I will continue to build relationships between attorneys, bar associations, the State Bar, and the public.

 

Photo of Thomas M. Richardson
Thomas M. Richardson
Friedl Richardson

In 2007, William Friedl and I opened the AV-Rated law firm of Friedl Richardson, PC.  Our firm focuses exclusively on personal injury cases.  In 2009, the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association asked me to join its Board where I am now vice-president.  In 2011, I was appointed by Governor Brewer and confirmed by the Arizona Senate to the Maricopa County Commission on Trial Court Appointments.  In this capacity, I served four years under Governor Brewer and two years under Governor Ducey.

Kiersten Richardson and I have been married since 1995.  We have two kids, a 15-year-old son, Jacob, and a 12-year-old daughter, Kennedy.  They are incredible people.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

I believe that I can help the Board of Governors in the areas of CLE programs and public relations based on my experience from serving on other boards.

Two significant issues that I see are 1) the members do not appreciate the benefits of State Bar membership, and 2) the general public has a negative view of the State Bar.

If elected, I would hope to influence the Bar to perform more services for the membership.  The members need to feel that they are receiving a true benefit for their bar dues.  I would also encourage the Bar to perform more community outreach programs.  The community needs to see the Bar sponsoring and performing services if the perception is going to improve.

Photo of K Royal
K Royal
Align Technology Inc.

Raised poor in rural Mississippi and the first in my family to get a bachelor's degree, my heart is in service to others. I started law school in my 30s with two kids, worked as a nurse throughout, and completed over 800 pro bono hours. As an attorney, I am involved in leadership development, diversity and inclusion activities, and volunteerism. I am an adjunct professor, a global in-house privacy attorney, and am active in leadership roles with the state bar (CMWL, co-chair Spring Training), International Association of Privacy Professionals, and Association of Corporate Counsel (2015 member of the year out of 42,000 worldwide primarily for initiating a global program supporting women in-house counsel).

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A

 


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

I am running for the Board of Governors because I believe in serving others and this is a significant way in which to do so. I bring a unique perspective as a former nurse, who has disabilities, is in-house counsel for a private company (I see no others on the board), and has a global privacy focus.
    
The significant issues facing our members are governance, representation, education, resources, costs, serving our community, technology, and quality in each of these. As a traditional profession, we have a history of changing slowly, yet the issues change quickly around us. We should be vocal and active within our legal community, but also our local, state, national, and global communities given the impact to us and our clients.
    
If elected, I would do my best to ensure that the needs of our members are voiced and heard; that concerns are brought forward in a timely manner and addressed; that we anticipate the changing environment in which we operate and provide the resources at a time and cost that helps our members; and last, that we are fair and representative of the people we serve.

Photo of Sam Saks
*Sam Saks
Smith Paknejad, P.L.C.

Sam Saks has served the Bar for over ten years, most recently as a member of the Board of Governors, the Rules Committee, and chair of the Technology Committee.  He has been active in the MCBA, the Thurgood Marshall Inn of Court, and the Solo and Small Firm Section.  Sam practices commercial litigation at Smith Paknejad, PLC.  Before joining the firm, Sam clerked at the Arizona Court of Appeals.  Sam graduated from the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Law School, where he was the executive articles editor of the law review.  Sam believes the Bar should make the lives of attorneys easier so they can focus on practicing law, not Bar regulations.  For more information and to view Sam's voting record, visit www.SamForBOG.com.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

If re-elected, I will continue working to increase the Bar's value to all of its members.  Among other things, I will work to:

• Keep dues low
• Simplify lawyer reporting requirements
• Increase free networking and referral opportunities
• Support the independence of the sections and voluntary bar organizations
• Control the Bar's expenses

With good leadership, the Bar can help improve every member's practice—without instituting additional regulations.  I will push to reform the rules governing our practice to make them more efficient and sensible while assuring the public is protected.  For example, I will advocate for revamping CLE to make it easier to earn and track credits.  I will also work to make access to selected Bar seminars and publications free.  The Bar can do more to enhance professional development.  If re-elected, I will ensure the Bar provides meaningful networking and referral opportunities.  Finally, I will continue to advocate for controlling the Bar's expenses rather than increasing dues.

I have the passion and experience to achieve these objectives.  I have served the Bar for over ten years, most recently as a member of the Board of Governors and the Rules Committee.  For more information and to view my voting record, visit www.SamForBOG.com.

Photo of Jessica S. Sanchez
Jessica S. Sanchez
Tempe UHSD (Eff. May 2017, law firm of Udall Shumway, P.L.C.)

Tempe Union High School District (Effective on or before May 2017, Ms. Sanchez plans to transition to the law firm of Udall Shumway, P.L.C.)

I am a proud Arizona native and alumni of NAU and ASU.  I have practiced exclusively in education law for over ten years serving as staff attorney for the Scottsdale School District, associate and partner at Udall Shumway, PC, and as the General Counsel to the Tempe school districts.

I serve on a number of bar and professional associations.  I was the 2016 President for Los Abogados and have served on the Board for over ten years. I am a BLI graduate and am serving my second term on the Appointments Committee.  I served on the 2016 Hall of Fame Committee for the MCBA and serve on both the Arizona and National Council of School Attorneys.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

A member of the State Bar since 2007, I see a consistent issue faced by many mandatory associations; maintaining and elevating the Bar's relevance among members and the community. First becoming aware of the benefits of the Bar through participation in the Bar Leadership Institute (2012-2013), I continue to participate in a number of Bar activities, including a second term on the Appointments Committee. My participation revealed how incredibly valuable the programs and services of the Bar are, and how those programs and services are enriched when all attorneys, county and affinity bar associations, and the community feel included and invested in the work and mission of the Bar. I believe I can be an advocate in both the legal and non-legal committees.

I am an active member of the Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association (President 2016; Board Member 2007-Present), and with the Arizona and National Council of School Attorneys.  I recently became active in the Maricopa County Bar Association and continue to collaborate with the affinity bar associations of Arizona. I seek your vote for the Board of Governors to ensure that all stakeholders move forward to collaboratively serve the best interests of our clients and community.

 

Photo of Sara A. Siesco
Sara A. Siesco
Ely, Bettini, Ulman, Rosenblatt & Ozer

Sara Siesco is an attorney at Ely, Bettini, Ulman, Rosenblatt & Ozer.  She is a fifth generation Arizonan, and attended Xavier Prep, the University of Arizona, and the University of Kansas Law School.  She is a member of the Women Lawyers Association, Arizona Association for Justice (“AZAJ”), and the Maricopa County Bar Association (“MCBA”).  She is on the MCBA Bench/Bar Committee, and was a recent faculty member at its Personal Injury Seminar Series.  She co-chairs the Ethics Seminar for AZAJ, has presented on civil rights at the Thurgood Marshall Inn of Court, and was a moot court judge at the college national competitions.  She is also a Southwest Super Lawyers® Rising Star (2014-2017), an active community volunteer, and a competitive runner.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A

 


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

To My Colleagues:

If elected, my focus will be on promoting the prosperity and the welfare of the State Bar Members, to ensure the services and benefits provided by the State Bar of Arizona (“SBA”) are performed in the most efficient and economical manner, and to ensure the SBA is effectively assisting the Members in dealing with the public.  These are difficult times to be practicing law, and my primary goal is to assist the Members succeed. I will work to ensure the SBA is efficiently serving the needs of our Members and the public in accordance with our code of ethics.

We are all aware that currently there are many economic and societal pressures on attorneys.  I will work to carefully review the structure, economics, and services provided by the SBA to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all Members.  I promise you that I will work to ensure that the SBA is doing everything it can to improve the public perception of lawyers, and to reduce any unnecessary economic burdens imposed upon the Members.  I will listen to and address the concerns of my constituents as we work together to improve the State Bar of Arizona.

Photo of Benjamin P. Taylor, II
Benjamin P. Taylor, II
Taylor & Gomez, L.L.P.

Benjamin Taylor is a partner at the law firm of Taylor & Gomez, LLP.  Taylor's practice focuses on personal injury, family, criminal, and death penalty cases. He has been a media legal analyst. Taylor earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona and a B.S. in Finance from Arizona State University.  He has worked for the Pima County Attorney's Office and the Maricopa County Public Defender's Office. Mr. Taylor is a board member of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Taylor was recognized as a top 35 entrepreneur under 35 by the Arizona Republic.  He has volunteered at the Veteran's Stand Down for ten years. Taylor was a 40 Under 40 National Bar Association and Phoenix Business Journal recipient. He is a Valley Leadership graduate.

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

Too many attorneys view the State Bar as punitive rather than supportive. If elected to the Board of Governors, I will work to elevate the Bar's role as a resource for attorneys, especially for new attorneys. I will bring value and new ideas to the Board of Governors and further relationships with other legal and community organizations. My door will be open to make sure all attorneys are heard. I will listen to our members and put attorneys first so that they can fulfill their legal and professional obligations to their clients and society.

My top goals will be to:  

1) Make sure the Bar is here to help attorneys, not hurt them.
2) Lower Bar dues by assuring efficiency.
3) Ensure Bar dues promote and help attorneys.
4) Increase communication with other Sister Bars.
5) Increase a working relationship with the Maricopa County Bar Association.

If elected, I will make sure that our members are the priority.  I will not be afraid to speak out and stand up for the rights of attorneys as they stand up for clients.

District 8: Pinal County

Photo of Denis M. Fitzgibbons
*Denis M. Fitzgibbons
Fitzgibbons Law Offices, P.L.C.

Educational Background
1986 Graduate of Columbia College in New York City
1989 Graduate of Arizona State University College of Law

Work Experience
1989-1993 Associate with Snell & Wilmer L.L.P., Phoenix, Arizona
1993-present Fitzgibbons Law Offices, P.L.C.

Judge Pro Tem for Pinal County Superior Court 1998-2012
Arbitrator with American Arbitration Association since 1995

Memberships and Associations
American Bar Association
State Bar of Arizona
State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors, District 8 representative (2015-present)
Pinal County Bar Association (Past President, 1996)
Pinal and Gila Counties Legal Aid Society (Past President, 1994)
Maricopa County Bar Association
Access Arizona-Economic Development Foundation (Past President)

Discipline Disclosure Statement:  N/A


     Why are you interested in running for election to the Board of Governors? What do you believe are the significant issues facing the members today? If elected, how would you hope to address these issues?

For the last two years, I enjoyed the distinct honor to serve as District 8 representative on the Board of Governors. I hope to continue to serve you in that capacity and humbly ask for your support.

Our members face significant issues today: the evolving economic environment; the demands of clients; advances in technology; and creating a legal environment to provide everyone access to justice. Our profession evolves rapidly. Members need to adapt quickly to the changing legal landscape to provide quality legal services at affordable rates, all while balancing their personal and professional lives.

As your District 8 representative, I will insure that the BOG communicates effectively with all members. I will continue to work hard to provide access to justice for those involved in our legal system. I will strive diligently to increase the standing of our professionals in our community. For too long, our members have not been properly acknowledged for the contributions attorneys make to our society every day. I promise to continue to listen intently to any concerns you express and put a full measure of effort into addressing them. Thank you for allowing me to serve you and this noble profession.




Copyright ©2004-2017 State Bar of Arizona