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A Solid Foundation

Spring 2017 brings an exciting opportunity for Arizona’s Finest Lawyers to align its organizational structure more closely with its charitable mission. 
 
We are pleased to launch the Arizona’s Finest Lawyers Foundation, Inc. an Arizona not-for-profit corporation.  The Foundation is taking its baby steps this week, in its journey to ultimately fill the big shoes of Arizona’s Finest Lawyers LLC. The Foundation’s Bylaws proudly define its mission:

 
The Foundation exists to advance the rule of law in Arizona, and identify Arizona lawyers who are competent, effective, and ethical. We advance pro bono activities, provide mentoring and other relational programs to the Arizona legal community and serve the due administration of justice. We offer to assist voluntary bar associations and legal service centers. We are funded by voluntary contributions, memorial gifts and bequests.
 
Familiar Faces, Different Roles
 
Continuity of leadership has been essential to our transition. Gary Stuart will serve as the Foundation’s President, and Tricia Schafer will serve as its Executive Director.  Harry Beans, Burt Kinerk, Gordon Lewis, Randy Nussbaum, and Charles Price have agreed to serve as the Foundation’s initial directors. To prevent confusion in nomenclature, the 30-member Advisory Board will become the Advisory Council, and since the Foundation technically has no "members," Sustaining Members will become Sustaining Lawyers. Melissa Grass will continue to provide part-time administrative support, and you will hear from her from time to time via her new email address, staff@azfinestlawyers.org.
 

Expanded Mission
 
AFL’s core mission—Identifying Lawyer Excellence & Informing Client Choice—will continue, and our new nonprofit status creates countless opportunities for our organization and its nearly 450 (and growing!) Sustaining Lawyers.
 
The Foundation and its Sustaining Lawyers  are uniquely positioned to serve as a referral source for another innovative nonprofit, formed last year, the Arizona Legal Center. For those not yet familiar with the Center, please visit
www.arizonalegalcenter.org. Located in the Sandra Day O’Connor ASU College of Law in downtown Phoenix, the Center gives the Foundation a more consistent and reliable vehicle for community involvement. The Gary L. Stuart Legal Triage and Referral Program is the Center’s flagship project, and we look forward to getting more of you involved. Using the talent and influence of our Sustaining Lawyers throughout the state, the Foundation will continue AFL's work within all of Arizona’s law schools.
 
Furthering its tradition of excellence, the Foundation will maintain its validation component for Sustaining Lawyers. Prospective Sustaining Lawyers will continue to be vetted for experience, community/civic involvement, and ethical compliance.  To broaden our reach, the Foundation will explore additional membership tiers, including retired lawyers who wish to remain connected, and new lawyers who can contribute to and benefit from our programs and services, but lack the requisite 10 years of Arizona practice experience to be considered for Sustaining Lawyer status.
 
Our long-term goals include positioning the Foundation to give and receive support to and from other institutions whose mission includes advancing the rule of law and a much broader view of access to justice.
 
And yes, of course, we will still emphasize and promote lawyer wellness through our Fit to Practice® initiative, and we will still host and co-host the warm and welcoming networking receptions that for many of us have become a tradition.  Turnout is looking strong for our
March 21 reception at the Arizona Legal Center, and we encourage you to RSVP if you haven’t already done so.
 

Our Fabulous Founders
 
None of this would be possible without our founding members – Burt Kinerk, Harry Beans, Mike Beale, Mike Kimerer, and Hon. (Ret.) Frank X. Gordon.  We’ll be updating our website in the next few weeks with a historical tribute.  Though our mission has evolved with the changing legal landscape, without these visionaries, AFL and the new Foundation wouldn’t even exist. We are excited for this opportunity to harmonize our mission of excellence with a broader community purpose of access to justice.  It is truly an honor to do this work, and we very much look forward to sharing this journey with each of you.
 
Respectfully,
 
Gary L. Stuart
Tricia Schafer

 
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