Law Legacy of Evo DeConcini By David B. Pittman The name DeConcini has longtime cache in this community. Evo A. DeConcini co-founded the law firm now known as DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy in 1968. By then, the political family patriarch and civic leader had already served as Arizona attorney general, Pima County Superior Court judge and member of the state’s Supreme Court. Today the law firm has grown into one of Tucson’s largest, with 21 lawyers and 42 employees. It also has a Phoenix office. Two young lawyers joined DeConcini in founding the firm 45 years ago – John R. McDonald, who died last year, and Dennis DeConcini, one of Evo’s three sons. Dennis had served as chief of staff to former Arizona Gov. Sam Goddard and later became Pima County Attorney and a three-term U.S. senator from Arizona. “After retiring from the bench, my father continued practicing law and building his real estate investment business. He was a good man and an outstanding lawyer and judge. He was my mentor. I tried to model myself after him.” The six-story federal courthouse at 405 W. Congress St. is named for Evo DeConcini, who died in 1986. The family traces its roots to the 13th century in Florence, Italy. Evo was born in 1901 in Michigan. The DeConcinis moved to Arizona in 1920. Though Dennis still is associated with the firm, he has not drawn a paycheck from the practice since 1972 – the year he departed to launch his political career as county attorney. DeConcini describes his own involvement in building the firm as “minimal,” though having the name of an 18-year U.S. senator on the shingle has helped business. www.BizTucson.com
Before leaving everyday involvement in the firm, he was instrumental in hiring Richard M. Yetwin, managing shareholder of the firm from 1982 to 1994. He describes Yetwin as a brilliant attorney whose practice centered on business, real estate, government and school issues. By 1977, John C. Lacy also had joined the firm. His expertise in natural resources, mining and environmental law resulted in the firm becoming a law leader in those fields. “It’s very interesting that we have had very little turnover,” Yetwin said. “We’ve got a whole group of lawyers with 15 to 30 years in the firm. So we are kind of a career outfit. For me, that’s a real highlight because it is not common in modern firms.” As the firm grew, it hired high-achieving, young lawyers who graduated at or near the top of their law school classes. One of those academic standouts was Lisa Anne Smith, a 1995 graduate of the University of Arizona law school who finished second in her class. Smith, whose practice emphasizes education law, employment law and civil litigation, was named managing shareholder five years ago. Smith described the firm as a fullservice, multidisciplinary organization. “We represent plaintiffs and defendants in litigation,” she said. “A lot of firms are plaintiffs firms or defense firms. We really don’t have a strong bent like that one way or the other.” Smith is most proud of the firm’s outstanding and unwavering commitment in providing pro bono, charitable and public service work. Indeed, the firm recently was honored as the Volunteer Lawyers Program of Southern Arizona Legal Aid Firm of the Year – the 15th time in the last
18 years. The State Bar of Arizona also honored many of the firm’s lawyers by including them in its annual “Top 50 Pro Bono Attorneys” list. Members of the firm are active volunteers and take leadership roles in a wide variety of nonprofit organizations, including the Arizona Historical Society, Arizona Kidney Foundation, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Jewish Family & Children’s Services, Tucson Botanical Gardens and the National and International Centers for Missing and Exploited Children. “Virtually everyone employed here provides some sort of pro bono or charitable work,” Smith said. Several of the firm’s attorneys are adjunct professors at the UA College of Law, including John C. Richardson, who teaches education law; Mark D. Lammers, trial practice; Lacy, mining law, and Yetwin, real estate law. Attorney Gary F. Urman teaches education law at the UA College of Education. Five of the firm’s attorneys – including Richardson, Lacy and Yetwin – were named to the 2014 edition of Best Lawyers in America, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. Also making the list were Denise M. Bainton, education law, and James A. Jutry, tax law, trusts and estates. During its first 20 years, the firm operated from various downtown offices. In 1988, it moved to a new building at 2525 E. Broadway. The firm recently renewed its lease at that location for another 10 years. Smith expects the firm to be around far longer than that. “We are preparing to embark on our second 45 years,” she said.
Biz Winter 2014 > > > BizTucson 61
The Tucson Region's Business Magazine