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ASU names José Cárdenas as general counsel

November 13, 2008

Prominent Phoenix attorney and community leader José A. Cárdenas has been named senior vice president and general counsel of ASU, effective Jan. 1.

ASU President Michael M. Crow made the announcement Nov. 13. The appointment is subject to approval by the Arizona Board of Regents.

Cárdenas serves as the chairman of the law firm of Lewis and Roca and is a partner in its commercial litigation practice group. His many community affiliations include serving as a board member or trustee of Greater Phoenix Leadership, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Chicanos Por La Causa and the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. He also chairs the board of directors of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Cárdenas, a member of the ASU Minority Advisory Council, is the host of "Horizonte," Eight/KAET-TV's public affairs program that explores Arizona issues through a Hispanic lens.

He replaces Paul Ward, who has been named vice president for legal affairs, general counsel and secretary to the Board of Trustees at Southern Methodist University.

"José is an outstanding lawyer and a gifted administrator," Crow says. He has served the Greater Phoenix community through a variety of board memberships, and he has been an adviser to me and knows ASU well. "I consider it a major coup that ASU has been able to attract a man of his talent and dedication to be our senior vice president and general counsel."

"My colleagues at Lewis and Roca and I have had the privilege working for ASU and with Paul Ward, so we know that he is a tough act to follow," Cárdenas says. "But what I learned at Lewis and Roca – and from Paul – about excellence, integrity and the art of lawyering will help. I grew up at Lewis and Roca. It is one of the country's best law firms and I will miss it dearly, but I am excited about being part of the New American University and advancing President Crow's vision of access and excellence."

"We are proud of José's accomplishments, and we appreciate his commitment and contributions to the success of our firm," says Ken Van Winkle Jr., managing partner of Lewis and Roca. "This is an outstanding opportunity for José, and the university will benefit from his expertise and experience. We look forward to continuing our relationship with him and the university."

As senior vice president and general counsel, Cárdenas will serve as the chief legal officer of the university. He will be responsible for management of ASU Audit & Advisory Services, and he also will serve as a university representative on and to the boards of directors of ASU-affiliated and ASU-related entities, such as the ASU Foundation, the Sun Angel Foundation and the ASU Alumni Association.

Cárdenas also will have responsibility for undertaking a set of activities to advance and support the public service and outreach mission of the university by participating in community organizations, representing the university in the business community and before local, regional and state constituencies, undertaking special projects as assigned by the president and helping coordinate the advancement of university initiatives.

Cárdenas received his bachelor's degree from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in 1974. In 1977, he graduated from Stanford University Law School, where he served as an articles editor on the Stanford Law Review. He joined Lewis and Roca in 1978 following a one-year federal district court clerkship.

After becoming a partner in the firm in 1982, Cárdenas served in numerous management roles, including as the firm's managing partner (chief executive officer) from 1999 to 2003, at which point he was named the firm's first chairman.

Cárdenas has an AV ("Pre-eminent Attorney") rating from Martindale-Hubbell. He is listed in the 2007 and 2008 editions of Southwest Super Lawyers in the business litigation category, and in the 2009 edition of The Best Lawyers in America by Woodward/White, Aiken, S.C., in the category of commercial litigation.

In 1995, he was elected to membership in the prestigious American Law Institute, and he is a member of the fellows of the American Bar Foundation. Cárdenas also has been recognized for his many community activities, including his selection in 2000 as the recipient of the Mexican government's Ohtli award, which is given to U.S. residents of Mexican descent in recognition of their service to Mexican communities in the United States.

Cárdenas has focused his practice primarily on commercial litigation matters. His litigation experience, however, has covered a wide range of complex matters, including toxic tort cases, leveraged buy-out litigation and representation of the state of Arizona in a variety of matters. He also has experience in the international arena.

Cárdenas has been admitted to practice law in Arizona, California, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a member of various bar associations, including the Hispanic National Bar Association. He has been a member of Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association since 1978, having served for many years on its board of directors and as president from 1985 to 1988.