A natural leader and champion of the rights of others, family law attorney Dana Levy demonstrated these characteristics quite early in life. Noting that there appeared to be some discrepancies in how a particular group of young women were being treated, Levy shot into action and quickly organized an impromptu “strike” to draw attention to these slights.
What makes this incident so remarkable is that Levy was 7 years old at the time. The group she represented comprised her bunkmates at summer camp. It’s a revealing anecdote that seems to have been a precursor to the work and dedication of the woman and preeminent attorney she’s become.
“I think it’s always been my purpose to help others who are less willing or able to speak up for themselves,” she says. “I’m the first lawyer in my family. So, I’m not sure how else to explain where this came from.”
“Apparently, I’m a natural-born contrary, stir-things-up type of person,” Levy adds with a laugh. “Or, if I look at it in a more positive light, I’ve always tried to be a problem solver, not a problem creator. This is a personal motto that I’ve always taught to my son, and it’s my approach in my practice.”
“Apparently, I’m a natural-born contrary, stir-things-up type of person. Or, if I look at it in a more positive light, I’ve always tried to be a problem solver, not a problem creator.”
After graduating from Brandeis University, Levy attended ASU for her law degree. Her first job was with a family law attorney. “I discovered I really liked it,” she says. “And, apparently I possessed the skill set for this area of the law. I know that I did not consciously think, ‘I want to be a family lawyer’ it was just the path that I followed and believe it was the right one for me. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Actually, at this point in my career anything else just doesn’t seem as interesting or meaningful.”
In trying to pinpoint precisely what she’s found so appealing about family law, Levy takes a moment to gather her thoughts and without fanfare, candidly offers this: “Having the direct interaction with people is what I most enjoy. I think that early on I was fortunate that I got into court very quickly, that was a good experience. I didn’t have to wait two years on a giant civil litigation case where someone finally allowed me to cross-examine a witness. I just went right into family law, went into the courtroom and started litigating.”
“But as I’ve matured, while I still love being in the courtroom and being involved in litigation, I think I value meeting all different types of people, getting to know many of them personally and really helping them not just legally, but emotionally through that process. That’s what I like right now, where I am in my life, realizing the impact you can have on other people as you help them through the legal quagmire.”
Levy does not reference her numerous courtroom successes when asked what she’s most proud of in her career. Rather, she underscores her reputation as a reliable and trustworthy attorney. After more than 23 years practicing exclusively in family law, Levy’s primary concern remains focused on veracity and integrity.
“What’s always been of utmost importance to me is maintaining integrity, a reputation for being ethical and skilled at my job,” she says. “What I’d want people to learn about me, is to understand how important integrity is to me as well as my ability to communicate with clients, and what I perceive to be my skills in that. I know I have a very good reputation in this town with judges, other attorneys and experts. I think it’s because people know that besides my legal expertise, they can rely upon me. They can trust my word and know that my goal is to improve a situation, not add fuel to what is already typically a fiery one.”
“It didn’t happen spontaneously,” Levy concedes. “It’s taken many years to demonstrate that I’m a really skilled attorney, but I’m also a good human being. Unfortunately, lawyers have a reputation of being a profession with a lot of large egos, aggressive behavior and maybe people who not only don’t follow the rules but they’re just dishonest. I’m proud to say that I don’t fall into that category and that’s really important to me.”
“Anyone can write a legal pleading,” Levy adds, “but to connect with a client, talk with them and guide them on other aspects is particularly important to me now.”
COLLABORATING WITH COLLEAGUES
Levy became part of the Dickinson Wright PLLC (formerly Mariscal Weeks P.A.) family in March of 1997, over the years not only becoming an integral part of this highly-respected and talented team of attorneys, but also building strong, lifelong friendships.
“I can’t imagine working anywhere else,” she says. “I promise you, when we talk about how close we all are, our weekly meetings and how we brainstorm together and share ideas, that is not a manufactured image. We are always asking each other to share opinions. Often when you’re involved in a case, it’s good to get someone else’s perspective. They may see it a little differently than you do.”
“Nobody here has an ego too large to not ask for someone else’s opinion. I think that is so important. I don’t know how attorneys work a solo practice,” she says. “Some of our cases are so complex, I have to talk to our tax attorney, estate planning attorney or whomever. No one can be an expert in every area of the law, so it’s so imperative to know you have the resources-who also happen to be great people-to provide that help.”
The fact that Levy has remained with the same group for over two decades is consistent with her nature. She is not only a very committed person, but also very loyal. Levy’s 24- year marriage is another example of her sense of allegiance.
“I’m a very committed type person,” she acknowledges. “I don’t change gears once I commit to something. I’m pretty dedicated. I just work through the problems as they arise.”
Levy met her husband, Brendan, in college. She was a freshman at the time and acknowledges her husband’s contribution to her career success. “One of the reasons I’ve been able to maintain my fulltime career is because I have a very supportive husband,” she says. “It’s really crucial. It would be very challenging if you didn’t have a partner who was supportive of what you wanted to achieve.”
Together she and Brendan, have raised their son, Zach, now a college sophomore, whom they are very proud of. “I am indeed one of those crazy mothers who is my son’s number one fan,” she says with a smile. “I adore my kid. It just goes to show that you can be a fulltime working mom and still have an extraordinary child and an extraordinary relationship.”
Dana Levy is certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a specialist in family law, a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (a national organization that admits only the most prestigious family lawyers in the nation), a judge pro tempore and provides pro bono assistance through a Volunteer Lawyers Program. She is a woman who seems to have the capacity to provide her clients with stellar representation, offer significant community service and still enjoy a full home and family life. No matter what means one chooses to evaluate a life and career, Levy has certainly reached the pinnacle.