Attorney of the Month Award for Pima County
By Michele Mirto
The VLP’s monthly award is a distinct honor: of the nearly 1100 attorneys who volunteer their time with the SALA VLP, only 12 receive the Outstanding Pro Bono Attorney award each year.
John Richardson was selected to receive the Outstanding Pro Bono Attorney of the Month Award for April 2016. John joined Southern Arizona Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) in 1985. In the more than 30 years since joining the program, John has assisted over 250 clients through the VLP’s Advice Only Clinic. Through the clinic John meets with pre-scheduled clients to determine the legal merits of their case, provide advice, and determine the next course of action. In addition, John accepts VLP cases for direct representation. He recently completed work on a case for a client who resides in a rural county served by SALA. The client’s concern involved a local utility company. Mr. Richardson dedicated 188 hours to the case. The VLP staff is grateful to Mr. Richardson for his unwavering commitment to the delivery of legal services to the poor.
Q & A WITH John Richardson
Where are you from? I grew up in Boulder City, Nevada, a small town in southern Nevada seven miles from Hoover Dam and 25 miles from Las Vegas.
Where did you go to college and law school? I went to both undergraduate and law school at the University of Arizona.
How long have you lived in Tucson? I had never been to Tucson until the summer of 1971, when I traveled here to attend freshman preregistration at the University of Arizona. I began my studies at the U of A that fall, fell in love with the Sonoran desert, and have lived in Tucson ever since.
What is the history of your practice of law? I started as an associate at DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy PC after graduating from law school in 1978, and I have worked there ever since.
What are your current practice areas? The focus of my practice is education law and employment law.
What drives you to volunteer with VLP? I credit my parents for instilling in me the desire to help others. Both of my parents, and especially my father, frequently did things to help others. In many cases they were what some would call little things, and their actions were always accomplished privately and without fanfare—loaning tools or, really, almost anything, to a struggling coworker or neighbor (and never asking for the items to be returned); always stopping to help a stranger whose car was stuck at the side of the road. Their quiet, unassuming acts spoke volumes.
Anyone you would like to acknowledge for contributing to your legal career / pro bono service?Through the years, I have continually admired Tim Hogan’s work on behalf of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. His ongoing, relentless efforts to “fight the good fight” have been inspiring.
If this award was accompanied by prize money, how would you spend it? I would probably end up making (or at least helping make) tuition payments. My son and daughter will both be in graduate school this upcoming school year.
Any hidden talents? If I have any hidden talents, they have successfully remained hidden from me.
What is something that not many people know about you? I love the law but remain a science geek at heart. I marvel at the progress of modern science, and love reading books (well, relatively simple books) about cosmology, quantum mechanics and particle physics. I am one of those odd ducks who was quite excited when the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland confirmed the existence of the elusive Higgs particle.
Any bad habits? I certainly hope so. My spouse considers my desire to discuss science discoveries with her a bad habit, but I hope I have darker bad habits than that.