In 1965, attorneys David Udall and Dale Shumway established not just a law firm, but a legacy of service to clients and the community. Both were distinguished public servants; Udall helped draft the Mesa city charter and was recently inducted into the Maricopa County Bar Association Hall of Fame. Shumway served as mayor of the city of Tempe. The founders remain of counsel to the firm, and continue to set the bar for ethical and professional leadership in civic and legal circles.
As Udall and Shumway fostered their thriving consumer law practice, a youngster named Stephen West contemplated a career in the law. West recalled, “As a boy, I admired Abraham Lincoln. I was deeply moved by his courage and clear thinking and I sensed at a young age that he made a great sacrifice for his country. I had it in the back of my mind that someday I wanted to be an attorney.”
Today, West is an equity partner at Udall Shumway PLC, where he has spent his legal career practicing in the areas of estate planning, tax law and business transactions. “Many of our principals have been with the firm for their entire careers. A number of attorneys and staff have gone away and then come back. There is something here.”
That something is a culture in which people are valued, both inside and outside the firm. “Our founders viewed their practice as a way to make a living but also as a responsibility. They believed that the special knowledge they had as attorneys should be used to benefit the community. That culture of service is important to the people who have come here. The success of people at home is also important to us. We expect hard work, but we understand that our attorneys and staff have lives and families. We think success at work and success at home are mutually inclusive. I think flexibility and support of family life is the key to some of the longevity here.”
2015 will mark the 50th anniversary of the firm. It is a time for reflection and expansion. “We are going through some strategic planning and evaluating our mission, vision and objectives to identify new practice areas and to better meet the needs of our clients. The law is a changing, dynamic and vibrant organism that adapts and adjusts as humanity changes. We want to be a firm that responds to those changes,” West said.
The firm’s business development manager, Jim Alexander, identified three key areas of change that the firm is currently responding to. “We are expanding and combining our employment and business transactional practices to give corporations the far-reaching service they need. In light of recent changes in the area of immigration law, we are also stepping up immigration representation. There are also changes occurring in the area of family equality, calling for us to expand our family law practice. We value the relationships we have built with our clients and desire the opportunity to reach out to new clients as well. Above all, we are committed to ensuring the highest level of customer service possible.”
Since its inception, the firm has grown from a general consumer practice to a full-service firm which includes a comprehensive business practice and a growing education law section. Family law, employment law, criminal, bankruptcy, immigration, personal injury, medical malpractice and workers’ compensation law round out the services offered. West continued, “We have a fine business section with a range of services we can offer to businesses. We also want to increase our school law presence, and we will continue to build on that because we are passionate about education.”
Udall Shumway PLC is made up of a number of nationally recognized attorneys who are leaders in their practice areas. Among them, Denise Lowell-Britt, who has been repeatedly named to the Best Lawyers in America list. Barry C. Dickerson, Steven H. Everts and H. Micheal Wright, each certified specialists in their practice area, have been included on the Super Lawyers list for several consecutive years.
“We are committed to providing excellent legal representation and to providing our employees with a great place to work,” West said. “We feel strongly that our profession provides a great service to our country. Our firm culture centers on continuing to do the best we can to make sure that we are fulfilling that role by providing excellent service to our community and the society in which we live.”