• FOR THE PUBLIC
  • FOR LAWYERS
  • LICENSING & COMPLIANCE
  • NEWS & PUBLICATIONS
  • ABOUT US

2021 Election Candidates

The Board of Governors online elections launch on Tuesday, March 24 and will close at 5 p.m. on April 7.

Questions?  Contact Carrie Sherman at Carrie.Sherman@staff.azbar.org or at 602.340.7201.

Meet the Candidates

District 2: Yavapai County
Sharon Flack (Incumbent)
Musgrove Drutz Kack & Flack PC

Candidate Bio

I was born in Detroit and attended college nearby. Upon early graduation from Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, in 2002 I began practicing in Cottonwood. I am currently a partner at Musgrove Drutz Kack & Flack in Prescott. In addition to serving as the 2018-2019 and 2019-2021 District 2 representative, my community involvement includes Yavapai County Bar Association (past President); Arizona Trial Lawyers Association; Federal District Court Local Rules of Practice Committee; State Bar Military Legal Assistance Committee; Yavapai County Superior Court Pro Tem Judicial Appointment Committee; Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters Board of Directors; Yavapai County Women Lawyers; Every Native Vote Counts 2018 mid-term and 2020 elections; and Arizona Community Foundation - Yavapai County Grant Panel committee. I am a member in good standing of Arizona State- and Federal District Courts; Navajo Nation Courts; Gila River Indian Community Courts; and White Mountain Apache Tribal Courts.

Candidate Questions

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?

Thank you for electing me to serve as your 2018-2019 and 2019-2021 District 2 Representative. I would be honored to serve as your District 2 Representative for a three-year term. Our State Supreme Court recently adopted changes to Rule 42 of the Supreme Court, including the elimination of Ethical Rule 5.4, "Professional Independence of a Lawyer." The elimination of ER 5.4 will allow non-attorneys to have an ownership interest in law firms, known as "Alternative Business Structures." The Supreme Court's rule changes also add a category of non-lawyer, the Legal Paraprofessional, authorized to handle certain types of cases. The rule change is found at https://www.azcourts.gov and is effective January 1, 2021. These rule changes will have an impact on the private practice of law for small firms and solo practitioners. If reelected to the Board, I will support programs and policies that provide support to small firms and solo practitioners and will voice the concerns of the rural State Bar members.

District 5: Pima and Santa Cruz Counties
Leticia Marquez (Incumbent)
Federal Public Defender’s Office

Candidate Bio

I received both my undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Arizona. I am a supervising attorney with the Federal Public Defender's Office. I am barred and have represented individuals in the Supreme Court and in the Fourth, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeals. My practice has included all stages of criminal appeals however currently I represent individuals under a sentence of death in their federal appeals.

Some highlights of my state bar service include: current member, Rules Committee, past Chair, Bar Leadership Institute Selection Committee, Chair of the 2011 State Bar Convention, past member, Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct and current AMBA treasurer.

With your support, I would like to continue serving as your District 5 Representative.

Candidate Questions

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?

After one term as District 5 Representative, I am seeking reelection to the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors. The last couple years have highlighted for me the need for Pima and Santa Cruz County input in the State Bar decision-making process.

I am heartened and inspired by the progress the State Bar has made recently in terms of its commitment to diversity and its embrace of evolving landscape of the practice of law. These changes can be frightening, but with effective leadership and communication, I am confident the State Bar can shuttle our members through these uncertain times.

The issues facing the State Bar are as varied as our membership. Among these issues is the need for substantial and effective mentoring of young lawyers. In addition, the State Bar must enhance and support the participation of small, private practitioners and ensure that each member is aware of, and is able to take advantage of its resources.

As a member of the Board of Governors, I strive to be a liaison between the State Bar members in District 5 and the State Bar of Arizona and to understand and present the varied views of all the members in this district.

James Rappaport
Curl, Glasson & Patrascioiu

Candidate Bio

I am currently an associate at Curl, Glasson & Patrascioiu, where my primary practice area is insurance defense. Other practice areas include appellate litigation, commercial defense, and § 1983 defense.

Before entering private practice, I worked at the Pima County Attorney's Office, both as a prosecutor and in their Civil Division. My work for the County included DUI prosecution, tax lien litigation, employment litigation, § 1983 litigation, and appellate litigation.

I currently chair the Pima County Bar Association Rules Committee and have written and presented on various rule changes over the past two years, including the petition to abolish ER 5.4.

I received a BA, summa cum laude, in historical musicology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a JD from Georgetown University Law Center.

Candidate Questions

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 to be an advocate for Pima County lawyers and provide a voice for them up in Phoenix. In the two years I have been Rules Committee Chair for the Pima County Bar Association (“PCBA”), I have written a half-dozen comments on various rule petitions and other issues on behalf of our County Bar.

Chairing the Rules Committee has required me to be as much an advocate as a listener. Whether it’s listening to the concerns of civil trial lawyers about abolishing ER 5.4, talking to recent law grads about diploma privilege, or corresponding with current Bar Governors about adding diversity and inclusion to our continuing legal education, I have made it a priority both to seek input from those most affected by proposed rule changes and to incorporate those perspectives into the comments I write.

I often hear from practitioners that the State Bar should listen more to its membership, particularly as its decisions affect our practices in deep and lasting ways. If elected, I will do what I have been doing for the past two years for PCBA: listen to the lawyers I live and work with and advocate for them.

 

District 6: Maricopa County
Jena Decker-Xu
Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen and Loewy LLP

Candidate Bio

Jena Decker-Xu completed both her undergraduate and law school education at the University of Arizona. She practices Business Immigration Law at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP. Within the State Bar of Arizona, she is a member and Past President of the Immigration Section, current President of the Young Lawyer’s Division, and the Young Lawyer’s Division Representative and Member of the State Bar of Arizona’s Board of Governors. She is also a member of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association. She is committed to Pro Bono, providing assistance to many local immigration organizations and was previously recognized as a top pro bono attorney in Arizona. In addition, she is the Vice Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association Pro Bono Committee.

Candidate Questions

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?

During my term as Member and Young Lawyer’s Division (YLD) Representative on the Board of Governors (BOG), I was empowered to influence and improve my local community. The BOG is essential to ensuring our attorneys in Arizona are the best they can be and the local community is protected. My past experience with the BOG, YLD, and outside organizations has given me the experience needed to tackle some key issues facing our members today.

Diversity and inclusion is one such issue. I would like to be an advocate and ally in the promotion of diversity and inclusion within the Bar. More can be done to gather data and identify areas where real change is needed and engage with those who are truly impacted. Mere statements are not enough; action and subsequent metrics must be put in place.

Another issue is engagement and support, especially for young lawyers. The BOG should partner more with the YLD to strategize on reaching new Bar members early, work with law schools, program to young lawyers, and partner with senior lawyers to provide mentorship. The bar has some outstanding programs, like the Ethics Hotline, which should continue to be promoted.

Barry Wong
Governor's Office of Equal Opportunity

Candidate Bio

A proud member of the legal profession in Arizona since 1986, public and community service has been an important part of my career. The State Bar is an important institution that is unique in how legal professionals are regulated compared to others that are regulate directly by state government; because of this unique model, it is imperative that the State Bar’s governance is strict but fair.

As a legislator in the 1990s, I chaired the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (oversees Auditor General's Office) and served on the House Appropriations Committee. Both committees carefully scrutinized the function and operations of agencies including licensing bodies – I will bring this experience to the St Bar BOG to ensure mission-focused operations benefitting the public and licensees.

Candidate Questions

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 BOG because over the course of a career in state government (various roles: public and private) I have gained experience in working with institutions, large and small, including with regulatory bodies; it would be my honor to lend my knowledge and expertise in service to members of the Bar in the governance of the State Bar.

Major State Bar Issues and Addressing Them
ISSUE 1: Lawyer Regulation and Licensing Structure; Dues, CLE

Resolution: Actively and ongoing review of St Bar regulatory structure ensuring efficient spending of financial and non-financial resources including mandatory dues, fees and other revenue. Primary mission of the State Bar is protecting the public through fair and minimal but not excessive regulation of bar member licensees.

ISSUE 2: Access to Justice and Legal Services

Resolution: Review the access to justice issue from all stakeholder perspectives -- from clients to legal service providers to existing institutions (public and private) -- to develop a strategic plan to be executed over the long-, mid- and short-term. A complex issue requires fresh thinking from many parties, legacy and new.

Sam Saks (Incumbent)
Guidant Law PLC

Candidate Bio

Sam Saks has served the Bar for over twelve 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 Guidant Law, 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.

Candidate Questions

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 reelected, 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 sensible while assuring the public is protected from unscrupulous lawyers and non-lawyers. 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, especially in light of the COVID pandemic. 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 twelve years in various leadership positions. For more information and to view my voting record, visit www.SamForBOG.com.

District 7: La Paz and Yuma Counties
Jimmie Dee Smith (Incumbent)
Attorney at Law

Candidate Bio

Education: Associates Degree, Arizona Western College; B.S. Degree, Northern Arizona University; J.D. Degree, Arizona State University College of Law.

Professional Background: Private practice of law (solo) in Yuma since 1970; branch office in Parker 1971-1975.

Professional Certification: Certified Bankruptcy Law Specialist

I have been an elected member of the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors for more than 20 years. If reelected I will attend all Board meetings and voice the views of rural Arizona lawyers from Yuma and La Paz Counties.

Candidate Questions

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 Arizona Supreme Court recently adopted major rule changes which impact the private practice of law for solo and small firm lawyers, including non-attorney (including corporate ownership) of law firms and authorizing non-attorney “legal paraprofessionals” to handle certain types of legal cases.

I will continue to voice the concerns of Arizona’s rural lawyers from Yuma and La Paz Counties.

Some of the issues include: the cost of law school is too high and there are too many lawyers for the limited employment opportunities that are available.

If reelected to the Board, I will continue to vote for and support issues and programs that are designed to assist rural lawyers and solo and small firm lawyers.

This page is managed by Carrie Sherman