Fennemore. For More Than 137 Years, A Powerful, Full-Service Law Firm Helping To Build The American West.
Because we are a law firm with 137-plus-years of storied history in Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and now California, we’ve seen it all, and survived and thrived while proudly guiding our business clients through often turbulent waters. Fennemore has withstood the tests of two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Great Recession and a worldwide pandemic. In the most uncertain of times the attorneys at Fennemore have rolled up their sleeves, become masters of new areas of the law, and led and stabilized our clients; taking them to new heights of success.
137 Years Helping the West’s Entrepreneurs and Largest Businesses
Office Locations Across Four Western States
More Than A Law Firm. The Firm That Helped Shape Western Business.
LATE 1880’S – ARIZONA WAS NOT EVEN A STATE YET WHEN FENNEMORE WAS FOUNDED
Richard Sloan, one of the founding members of what is now officially known as Fennemore Craig, P.C., in his book, Memories of an Arizona Judge, recalls his arrival in Phoenix in 1884, “The train slowed down, and the brakeman stuck his head in the car door and shouted, ‘Maricopa- all out for Phoenix!’ I stepped from the train, somewhat surprised that I was the only passenger to do so.”
As Mr. Sloan stood alone on that train platform in 1884, only 5,500 people lived in Phoenix and the city covered one and a half square miles. Today, Phoenix is now the 5th largest city and home to approximately 1.4 million people.
Mr. Sloan was joined by a fellow Ohio law school graduate, Louis Chalmers. In January 1885 they presented their credentials to the Territorial Supreme Court. Sloan & Chalmers subsequently opened in downtown Phoenix at what is now the intersection of Washington and First Avenue. Mr. Sloan went on to serve as Associate Justice on the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court, and as the 17th and final Governor of the Arizona Territory. As Governor, he oversaw Arizona’s transition from territory to statehood in 1912.
EARLY 1900’S – THE WEST WAS WON AND THE NATION HAD 193,000 MILES OF TRACK, WITH FIVE RAILROAD SYSTEMS SPANNING THE NATION
When Arizona became a state in 1912, Edward Kent joined the firm after serving on the Territorial Supreme Court. Judge Kent authored the seminal “Kent Decree,” which established water rights for nearly all of the Salt and Verde River systems. The “Kent Decree” stood the test of time and still governs water rights in Central Arizona after nearly a century.
Harry Fennemore joined the firm in 1916. Mr. Fennemore drafted Arizona’s workmen’s compensation law and sales tax act. Mr. Fennemore also brought with him as a client the Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company, now known as CenturyLink and still proudly represented by Fennemore Craig to this day. For over a century, Fennemore Craig has been involved in the development of Arizona’s telecommunications system through policymaking and shaping administrative regulation of communications companies.
Jubal Early Craig and Virgil Bledsoe joined us in 1927. Mr. Craig helped organize the State Bar of Arizona, contributed to the writing of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and helped form the Maricopa County Legal Aid Society.
Jubal Craig’s son Walter Craig joined us in 1936. The younger Mr. Craig served as the president of the Arizona Bar Association and, in 1963, became president of the American Bar Association, a rare accomplishment for an attorney from a then small western state like Arizona. Walter Craig also served as special counsel to the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1963, following his service to the Warren Commission, he was appointed as a judge on the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. He served until his death in 1986. The State Bar of Arizona’s named its Distinguished Service Award after Walter E. Craig. It is awarded to the attorney who has manifested adherence to the highest principles and tradition of the legal profession and service to the public in the community in which he/she lives. The following Fennemore attorneys have received this award: Philip E. Von Ammon – 1988; Calvin H. Udall – 1993; Kenneth Sherk – 1999; and Neal Kurn – 2014.
AMERICA OF THE 1950’S TURNED INTO A RAINBOW COLOR REVOLUTION IN THE 1960’S WITH PEACE SIGNS AND FLOWER POWER – AND CALVIN UDALL HELPED CHANGE THE HISTORY OF WATER RIGHTS IN THE AMERICAN WEST FOREVER
Between 1954 and 1962, Calvin Udall served as an attorney for Arizona in the massive legal and political battle between Arizona and California for control of Colorado River water. Mr. Udall was part of Arizona’s legal team in 1963, led by attorney Mark Wilmer when the United States Supreme Court allocated the rights to Colorado River water. Without Colorado River water, growth of Arizona’s major cities, particularly Phoenix and Tucson, would never have materialized.
Continuing our enduring presence on water issues facing the Southwest, Fennemore Craig’s Jim Johnson and Jim Bush were principal negotiators and drafters of the Arizona Groundwater Management Act, which was vital to balancing the growth in Arizona with the available water supply. Without the sustainable water supply that resulted from the state’s Groundwater Management Act, growth in Arizona would certainly have slowed decades ago.
LOVE AND THE LAW – OUR PROUD CONNECTION WITH SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR, THE FIRST FEMALE JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT
In 1957, John O’Connor joined Fennemore Craig. He met his future wife, Sandra Day, while they served as editors of the Stanford Law Review. She went on to serve as the first female justice of the United States Supreme Court. When Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1981, she relied on attorneys from the firm to help her prepare for her confirmation hearings.
In 1974, Fennemore Craig hired our first two female attorneys, Ruth McGregor and Toni McClory. We subsequently became one of the first law firms in Arizona to elect females as shareholders. When Justice O’Connor joined the Supreme Court in September 1981, she hired Ms. McGregor as her first law clerk.
Ms. McGregor later served 11 years as a justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. Justice McGregor served as an associate justice until 2005, when she became the court’s second female chief justice. Ms. McClory went on to serve as an Arizona Assistant Attorney General from 1976-1991.
THE TOTALLY AWESOME 80’S MAKE WAY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY – A TIME FOR CHANGE AND GROWTH
Fennemore expanded into Tucson in October 1989 and then into Nogales in September 1999 with the addition of Kim and Hector Arana and a robust cross-border trade practice. We opened a Las Vegas office in September 2006, welcoming attorneys from Morse and Mowbray, and later that year, opened an office in Denver with the addition of intellectual property attorneys from the Dahl firm.
In July 2012, we welcomed 25 attorneys from Jones Vargas, a law firm with offices in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada. Like us, Jones Vargas had a rich history and deep local roots. The Jones Vargas attorney roster has included governors, state senators, state assembly representatives, state bar governors and presidents, governors of the American Bar Association, and community leaders. Fennemore’s Ann Morgan, a former Jones Vargas shareholder, now serves on the State Bar of Nevada Board of Governors.
In 2015, we embarked upon our 130-year anniversary and added 19 lawyers in the Las Vegas and Reno offices from the prominent Lionel Sawyer & Collins firm. The arrival of the Lionel Sawyer lawyers included the legendary Sam Lionel, who co-founded the Lionel Sawyer firm in 1967 with former Nevada Governor Grant Sawyer. Mr. Lionel was instrumental in the evolution of the legal profession in Nevada. In fact, he was known as the “Dean of the Nevada Bar.” Joining Mr. Lionel was former U.S. Senator Richard Bryan, who also served as Governor of Nevada for two terms prior to serving in the U.S. Senate.
During this period of change and growth at the firm. High-profile attorney Sarah Strunk was elected Chair of the Board of Directors at Fennemore.
MOVING INTO CALIFORNIA: SIGNALING STRENGTH THROUGH THE PANDEMIC
In life, as in the law, change is the lifeblood for success. In 2020, while other law firms remained frozen on the sidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, our firm acted strategically and boldly by welcoming the nearly 100 legal professionals and their sophisticated client base from California firm Dowling Aaron. The combined firm expanded to offices in 9 cities in the western US, including three in California. (Link)
2021: FENNEMORE’S BOLD, STRATEGIC GROWTH CONTINUES WITH THE ADDITION OF REILLY LLP IN DENVER
Fennemore was named #1fastest growing law firm in 2021 by Law.com and on August 1, 2021, Fennemore then struck again adding Reilly LLP, a Denver-based trial firm, to the roster. Bringing 155+ years of combined experience and talent together, The Reilly LLP lawyers continue to provide Fennemore’s business clients with national litigation experience now supported through the diverse service offerings of Fennemore. (Link)
2022: FENNEMORE’S EXPLOSIVE GROWTH CONTINUES WITH NEW SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OFFICES
Fennemore’s strategic growth plan includes the addition of lawyers who fit with the firm’s entrepreneurial culture and practice in areas that are in high demand in the region. On April 1, 2022 Fennemore added 50 attorneys and allied legal professionals to its roster and opened new offices in San Bernardino and San Diego.
The growth in the Inland Empire of Southern California, its close proximity to the massive Los Angeles market, and alignment with Fennemore’s core practice strengths made it an ideal launchpad for our continued strategic growth in the future and new business opportunities. This expansion deepens the firm’s significant experience in the areas of real estate and land use, business, and natural resources. (Link)
SUMMER 2022: FENNEMORE & WENDEL ROSEN JOIN FORCES TO FORM A DYNAMIC, FULL-SERVICE LAW FIRM SERVING THE EAST BAY
On July 1, 2022, Fennemore formally combined with Wendel Rosen, LLP, one of the oldest and largest full-service business law firms in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay area. Fennemore added their 56 attorneys and 45 allied legal professionals to its roster along with Wendel’s three offices in Oakland, Walnut Creek and Modesto. Fennemore’s expansion deepens the firm’s significant experience in the areas of real estate, land use, litigation and trusts & estates. The combination increases Fennemore’s office count to 14 locations across the rest of its footprint in Southern California, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada.
The combined firm will be called Fennemore Wendel in Northern California. The East Bay represents one of the biggest technology and business centers in the world, and is the most populous region in the San Francisco Bay with 2.8 million people and $236 billion in gross regional product. The larger San Francisco Bay area captured the nation’s biggest share of venture capital invested in 2020 at 36%. And unlike other cities in the Bay Area, Oakland is growing. Based on the most recent census report, Oakland’s population increased by nearly 13% in the past decade. (Link).
FRESH AND TENACIOUS LEADERSHIP AT THE TOP
Many of the issues and clients with which has mastered and led have shaped the Mountain West and California. Fennemore is led by CEO James Goodnow, a Harvard grad who took the reins at 36 becoming the youngest known lawyer elevated to the top position in U.S. history. He has guided the firm through two significant expansions mid-pandemic fortifying key practices and laying the foundation for long-term success.
Innovation is a hallmark of Fennemore. From partnering with an AI firm and modeling more efficient pricing to eliminate the billable hour to taking lessons learned from a distributed workforce and adding sophisticated best practice/accountability tools, Fennemore is now positioned as the law firm of the future.