Snell & Wilmer named Barbara J. Dawson, a partner with more than three decades of service at the firm, the firm’s chair, effective April 12. Dawson takes over for Matthew P. Feeney, who steps down from the position after leading the firm through tremendous growth over the past eight years.
Dawson was unanimously chosen as Snell & Wilmer’s next chair in 2022 by the firm’s Executive Committee after a comprehensive input process involving stakeholders across the firm.
“I am incredibly honored to follow in Matt’s footsteps and will strive to further the outstanding progress he made leading our firm since 2015,” Dawson said. “Snell & Wilmer has given me extraordinary opportunities for professional growth and meaningful service. I am committed to offering the same support for members of our firm, our clients, and our communities during my tenure as chair.”
A senior investigations and litigation partner, Dawson serves on the firm’s elected Executive Committee and Compensation Committee and has led the firm’s Commercial Litigation and International Practice groups. She has built a practice leading cross-office teams serving Fortune 500 clients in a broad range of matters across the Western U.S. She also has led organizations focused on the legal needs of the underrepresented, including the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education. She has received honors for both her legal and business leadership, including the Athena Award for Businesswoman of the Year and The Best Lawyers in America© recognition as Phoenix Lawyer of the Year for Regulatory Enforcement Litigation.
“Barb is a leader with character, passion, and dedication,” Feeney said. “I am very fortunate to have held the role of chair for the past eight years and it is a privilege to now pass the torch to someone with such a deep understanding of our firm, its ambitions, and the tactics it will take to achieve our goals.”
Over the course of her career, Dawson has led efforts to curate development opportunities for Snell & Wilmer attorneys within and outside the firm. She co-founded and chaired the firm’s Attorney Development Committee, which oversees firmwide professional development initiatives, including mentoring, training, and relationship building. Now as the first woman and person of color to chair the firm, Dawson hopes to continue opening doors for those committed to excellence in service of clients, the community, and the firm.
In addition to having chaired the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation, Dawson remains on the ABA’s board of the Rule of Law Initiative and recently served on the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary that vets and rates federal judicial candidates for the U.S. Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, and District Courts. On an international basis, she has served as chair of the Board of Directors for Lex Mundi, a global affiliation of 160+ independent law firms located in 100+ countries.
Feeney, who led the firm through strategic expansion into the Pacific Northwest, Texas, and Washington D.C. during his tenure, remains active in his practice and continues to set an example as a driver of innovation, success, and charitable initiatives. “We are grateful for Matt’s ongoing leadership that continues to make our community stronger,” said Dawson. “He is a true servant leader whose positive impact is immeasurable.”
Founded in 1938, Snell & Wilmer is a full-service business law firm with more than 450 attorneys practicing in 16 locations throughout the United States and Mexico, including Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, California; Denver, Colorado; Washington, D.C.; Boise, Idaho; Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; Dallas, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; Seattle, Washington; and Los Cabos, Mexico. The firm represents clients ranging from large, publicly traded corporations to small businesses, individuals and entrepreneurs.
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