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Gordon, Matheson, students honored at annual Law Journal banquet

April 20, 2010

A man who initiates creative problem solving over cups of coffee, rather than with a hammer in the courtroom, has received the highest alumni honor of the Arizona State Law Journal at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon received the 2010 John S. Lancy Distinguished Alumni Award at the Journal's annual awards banquet on Friday, April 16, in Paradise Valley. More than 130 people attended, including representatives from 15 law firms.

"My success has been two-fold - working with the community and having a phenomenal legal training at the law school at ASU," said Gordon (Class of 1978).

Gordon, the recipient of the Best Mayor in North America Award in 2008 from City Mayors, an international think tank on urban affairs, was introduced by Phoenix attorney Grady Gammage Jr. Gammage characterized Gordon as a politician who helps people for the sheer love of it, noting his accomplishments include bringing light rail to the metropolitan area and a medical school to downtown.

"He has a deep affection for what is special and different about Phoenix, and for making it better," Gammage said. "I'm guessing he would say the most memorable, most important thing he has done is bringing ASU downtown.

"The thing that Phil does so well is trying to think through and solve people's problems," Gammage said. "It's a fabulous skill."

The John S. Lancy Award is named for a member of the first entering class at the College of Law in 1967, and the first editor of the Arizona State Law Journal.

Associate Dean Gary Birnbaum, Journal advisor and Managing Director at Mariscal, Weeks, McIntyre & Friedman, P.A., said he knew Lancy as a fellow lawyer, a friend, a real estate entrepreneur and a paying client.

"He believed a law degree, law practice and the Law Journal, in particular, had a serious role to play in the formation of societal norms," Birnbaum said.

Lancy clerked for Judge James M. Carter of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit before joining the Phoenix law firm of Streich, Lang, Weeks, Cardon and French. Five years later, he left that firm to establish a solo practice in real estate and corporate law, securities and partnerships. For three years he was vice chairman and outside general counsel of Western Pacific Airlines. In 1998, he returned in an of-counsel capacity to Quarles & Brady Streich Lang, where he remained until his illness.

"His life was always devoted first to his family, and then to the law. He loved the law and the Law Journal," Birnbaum said.

Lancy died in 2001 after 20 months of fighting a cancerous brain tumor. He was 56.

In other awards, Professor and Dean Emeritus Alan Matheson was honored for helping hundreds of students during the law school's 40-year history. Matheson received the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, which has been renamed the Alan Matheson Outstanding Journal Mentor Award.

"He's just a fixture at the law school, and we love to recognize him," said Patrick Cunningham, the Journal's editor-in-chief.

The Outstanding Managing Editor Award went to Ben Gottlieb; Natalie Greaves and Alison Atwater received the Outstanding Editor Awards, and the Outstanding Staff Writer Award was made to Terry Crist. The outgoing and incoming Senior Boards also were recognized.

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law