Attorney of the Month Award for Pima County
By Michele Mirto
Southern Arizona Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program 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.
Gary Kraft was selected to receive the Outstanding Pro Bono Attorney of the Month Award for June 2016. Gary joined the VLP in 2013 where he is a frequent participant in the VLP’s Minor Guardianship Clinic. Through the clinic Gary provides prospective guardians of minors with legal assistance in requesting a guardianship in probate court. Gary answers questions concerning guardianship and helps the prospective guardians complete the requisite legal paperwork. In addition to his work in Pima County, Gary has traveled with VLP staff to Pinal County to conduct the clinic and help rural county clients with guardianship issues. In his short time with the VLP Gary has already helped 80 clients withminor guardianship matters. The VLP staff is grateful for Gary’s time and dedication to this important work. By volunteering with the Minor Guardianship Clinic Gary is able to ensure that children in need receive medical care, are able to enroll in school, and most important, have a place to live where they are safe and loved.
Q & A WITH Gary Kraft
Where are you from? I was born in San Diego, but moved to Tucson when I was eight.
Where did you go to college? University of Arizona
Where did you go to law school? University of Arizona
How long have you lived in Tucson? 42 years.
What is the history of your practice of law? After graduating from law school, I practiced in California for a few years and then returned to Tucson and was an associate at DeConcini, McDonald, Yetwin & Lacy. I was then offered a law clerk position by Judge William Browning and that eventually led to my current position working for Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Rateau.
What are your current practice areas? Anything that finds its way to the federal court.
What drives you to volunteer with VLP? I am inspired to volunteer and teach by other lawyers I know. Tarik Sultan, Jim Calle and Kristine Fox come to mind when I think of those who are always willing to help others. I admire them for that and enjoy helping the clients of the VLP’s Guardianship Clinic—they are the real heroes!
Anyone you would like to acknowledge for contributing to your legal career / pro bono service? The best part of my legal career has been working with the judges and staff at the District Court. I have worked for Judges William Browning, Alfredo Marquez, and currently, Jacqueline Rateau. Each of them has taught me a great deal about the law, but also a great deal about life and the people we serve.
One reason you would encourage attorneys to volunteer with VLP? Because your expertise is needed and valued!
Other VLP volunteers you'd like to give a shout-out to Life-lesson learned from your experiences with VLP? I thank Kevin Rudh and the late Skip Skinner for getting me involved in the Guardianship Clinic and Claudia and Elena at SALA for making my job easy.
Favorite Tucson restaurant? My favorite Tucson restaurant is one my Mom first went to in 1960, Mama Louisa’s. However, most days I find myself dining at El Minuto or Las Margaritas with my wife, Paris Chacon. Those are her favorite restaurants and I must admit they are almost as good as Mama Louisa’s!
Things you do when not working or volunteering your legal services? I most enjoy listening to my kids playing their instruments, and watching them ride skateboards, and play basketball and softball. We also have recently taken up boating and are learning how to waterski and wakeboard.
Paris and I enjoy traveling, concerts and car shows whenever we can find the time.
Best thing about being an attorney in Tucson? Is being in Tucson—nothing quite like the Old Pueblo!
If I ever retire from the Court, it will be to start a new career as a lawyer!
Any hidden talents? I’ve run a 3:17 marathon, but Judge Bernardo Velasco has run a 2:58, so my talent isn’t that great even when compared to others here at the court.
What is something you would like people to know about you? I’ve taught employment law and legal research in the Pima College paralegal program since 2008. Pima has a terrific program and is a great resource if you are looking to hire support staff for your office.
What is something that not many people know about you? I was the MVP of my high school gymnastics team and set the school scoring record in diving. As my close friends know, I still enjoy flipping off the diving board into my backyard pool.
Are you a dog or a cat person? Dogs, yes plural, to my chagrin.
What do you do to unwind after work? Spend time with my wife and kids.
Favorite song? Bruce Springsteen, “Tom Joad,” because it reminds me that not everybody’s life is as easy as mine has been.
Person you most admire? My wife, Paris. In addition to taking care of a husband and four kids, she built and runs a successful paralegal business. And she’s fun to be with!
Food you can't live without? Joe’s Special at Mama Louisa’s: homemade pasta, red sauce, cheese and red pepper.
Any bad habits? Nope. None.
Best vacation destination? Dublin, Ireland. Great people and great music.