College of Law Finals
DEC 24
- JAN 3

Winter Closure


Today we feature alumnus and Quarles & Brady firm president Brad Vynalek, of the Class of 1999. 

Brad shares his broad perspective on the evolving practice of law, enthusiasm for the University of Arizona, great Arizona Law memories, and commitment to his law school and his fellow alumni!
Until the footnotes,
Q&A with Brad Vynalek ('99)

Brad Vynalek ('99) was named national president of Quarles & Brady in September. He has been with the firm for 21 years. Today, he answers questions from Arizona Law's Director of Alumni and Development Megan O'Leary.
Where are you originally from and what brought you to the University of Arizona for law school?
I grew up in the center of Tucson, not too far from the University of Arizona campus. As a kid, I spent a ton of time on campus skateboarding, hitting football and basketball games, biking, playing volleyball on the mall, and even catching movies at the Gallagher Theater on campus. To my friends and family, even though we were not students at the time, campus was a welcoming and exciting community asset to be shared and treasured by all. It was our Central Park.
I still remember the moment I opened my acceptance letter from Dean Terry Sue Holpert. I was a senior at Stanford and law school was a dream I wanted to fulfill. Dean Holpert's note was so thoughtful, gracious, and welcoming that I knew Arizona Law was the home for me. It was as simple as that; her sincere interest in me, my future, and my dreams made all the difference. I knew she and the school believed in me. 

It was an amazing opportunity to return to my home state to launch my career. And, truth be told -- Dean Holpert granted my request to defer my start for a year so that I could backpack in New Zealand, work for the 1996 Olympic Committee in Atlanta, intern at a law clinic, travel around the country, and do some soul searching that I had never had time to do in college.

Mini-reunion in October 2019 with members of the 
Classes of 1998, 1999, and 2000.

What stands out most from your time at Arizona Law?
The people -- what an absolutely awesome group of classmates, professors, and staff. The education was outstanding, but the people and memories we created stand out the most. Special moments include meeting three guys for the first time as roommates -- Lance Blanco, Eric Blank, and Mike Korenblat (all Class of '99). I had never met them before before they all converged on Arizona Law, each from different parts of the country. We ended up renting a house together within walking distance of the law school. We hosted a regular Thursday night cocktail event for our classmates. One Sunday night we even hosted a member of Congress at our house to talk policy and law. We didn't have enough chairs and used stacked-up crates for a few of us to sit on.

Here are a few additional memorable Arizona Law moments.

~ Sitting in Justice Rehnquist's U.S. Supreme Court class and being able to debate issues with him as a student.

~ Camping out in front of O'Malley's on Fourth Avenue for hours to make sure a good portion of our class would have seats and tables to watch the basketball team win the 1997 national championship. What a crazy win and night!

~ Endless, great conversations with classmates in the lobby between and after classes.

~ Securing the late Senator McCain to serve as our graduation keynote speaker and being on stage with him as a student keynote speaker, after having had the honor of being one of his legal interns in DC.
What path did you take from law school to today?
I started with Quarles & Brady 21 years ago and have made the firm my professional home. I started as a young associate in litigation and through good luck and committed mentors across the firm, I have been able to build a practice representing clients headquartered in Arizona, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Paris, Milan, London, Southern California, and Minneapolis. 

My attraction to Quarles & Brady very much mirrored what I loved about Arizona Law. The recruiting team and all the people I interviewed with were great people who made it clear they invested in young attorneys to support them in both their career paths and their community service interests outside of the firm. Many mentors, including people like Andy Sherwood ('74), took time, offered opportunity, and always were there for me.

Brad and Amy's three kids 
and future Wildcats 
Gabe, Mabel, and Hazel.

Brad and Amy with Jeff Simmons and Jo Ellen McBride.

How have enduring Arizona Law connections influenced you?
These have been so important. Personally and professionally, I stay in touch with several classmates. We visit each other in different cities and even vacation together. To this day, one of my best friends from Arizona Law, Dan Oseran ('00), and I routinely catch up and counsel each other on our lives and careers.
How have you maintained your connection to Arizona Law over the years?
Over the years, aside from classmates, I have stayed close to several alumni. One, in particular, has been really helpful to me. Jeff Simmons ('86, now Chief Legal Officer at GlobalTranz) recruited me to the Law College Association two decades ago and was an important sponsor in many leadership opportunities for me at Arizona Law. He took me under his wing and provided a trajectory I didn't know existed. I still vividly recall my lunch with him and Dean Toni Massaro when they invited me to get more engaged. 

I loved my days of running Gutter Bowl with Jo Ellen McBride ('90). More recently, it has been an absolute honor to serve on the Dean's Economic Council, providing strategic guidance with world class alumni like Rob Bujarski ('01), Meghan Cocci ('98), and Elizabeth Sperling ('02), to name just a few. Just a few years ago, I even participated in a mountain bike race with my dear friend Karl Fazio ('97), who graduated a year before me.
Why is it important that you give back, and what would you tell others about getting involved through their philanthropy, especially at this time of year, and in these times?
My first gift to the UA was in 1999 when Vicki Fleischer (now Senior VP for Development at the UA Foundation) asked me to restart the class gift tradition. Vicki helped us all see the gifts Arizona Law had provided us and the importance of giving back, and she asked me to lead my class's efforts. I am proud that I can give more than I could then! And the simple truth is that giving helps pave the way for future generations. My beliefs about giving back have only grown throughout my career; at Quarles & Brady, giving and performing pro bono work are core to who we are. We want to invest in the communities in which we are so blessed to have wonderful law practices.
Tell us about your new role, what your main focus will be, and what excites you.
Earlier this year, our executive committee created a new leadership structure that allows our managing partner to focus on internal operations of the firm while, in the newly created role of president, I focus more on external opportunities. I'm excited to work closely with our managing partner and my colleagues across the firm to reimagine our future in this fast-paced world. Externally, I'll work with clients on innovative approaches to deliver even better client service and outcomes. We see ourselves as trusted advisors, not vendors, and aim to help our clients solve business problems that happen to have legal dimensions. Internally, it is an honor to work with so many phenomenally talented attorneys and staff members as we collaborate to further our purpose as an organization devoted to unparalleled talent development and client dedication.
What do you see as the biggest issues currently facing the legal profession?
One of the biggest challenges the profession faces is the pace of innovation. The world is innovating in so many incredible ways and it is hard to keep up. Likewise, in this particular time with COVID, finding balance has been more challenging for members of our profession. Working at home can mean you are working almost all of the time. That said, the silver linings -- being home for dinner with loved ones every night, being able to help your kids with school, and spending more and better time with family and friends -- have been really special.
What would you tell younger professionals and recent Arizona Law graduates about how to start off on the right foot early in your career?
Dive in, get lost, and find your way out. I have found that when I am in over my head, I have to think differently and broaden my view, which ignites creativity. That mindset helps you advance more than anything else. And don't be afraid to take risks. If they don't pay off, you will have learned and discovered new things about yourself. And, when they do pay off, it provides a new way to advance your career and help others.

Around the College

Make a Recurring Gift to Arizona Law

Arizona Law is kicking off a special fundraising campaign for the month of December. We invite you to set up a monthly recurring gift in support of the scholarship or program of your choice. 

Sustained monthly giving provides critical, stable funding that helps us plan for the future. 

We have set a goal of 50 new recurring gifts in the month of December. As a thank you for helping us reach this goal, every new recurring gift will come with a special Arizona Law face mask. 

Bear Down and Mask Up! 

Set up your recurring gift today at: 

Year-End Giving
The University of Arizona will be closed campus-wide starting on Thursday, December 24, 2020, until Sunday, January 3, 2021 -- and will reopen on Monday, January 4, 2021.
If you would like to make a year-end philanthropic contribution, here are some helpful tips to ensure your gift is counted in 2020:
Gifts by check: All checks should be made payable to the Law College Association and mailed to The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, 1201 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85721. Checks will be processed and receipted according to the postmark date on the envelope. Please allow extra time for USPS delays this year. To receive a charitable gift deduction in 2020, your envelope must be postmarked by December 31, 2020.
Gifts by credit card: Credit card gifts will be receipted on the date the charge hits (posts to) the credit card account. This means to receive a 2020 charitable gift deduction, the charges must be made with sufficient time before December 31, 2020 to allow the donation to post by December 31, 2020. You can make a gift securely at: www.law.arizona.edu/give  
Gifts of stock: Stock transactions will be processed and receipted on the date the stocks are transferred into our account. To receive a 2020 charitable gift deduction, stocks must be transferred by the end of the day December 31, 2020. If you are planning a stock transfer please call 520-621-8430 so that we can prepare for your gift.

Join the Bear Down Network!

Whether you need to create your profile or you are a current user, there is so much waiting for you on the Bear Down Network.

  • Communicate with Wildcats through various opportunities: Cat Chats and Mentorships
  • Make connections with Wildcats through an alumni directory and groups
  • Stay informed with university news and events
  • Share your journey on the network and group feeds
  • Bring your community with you wherever you go with the mobile app

Sign up on the Bear Down Network before December 18 to join other Wildcats and enter to win a grand prize of $100 in Wildcat gear from the Arizona BookStores. 

Already a member? Enter to win by posting a photo of yourself sporting your favorite Wildcat gear to the main feed and tag Alumni Association in the post. Go to beardownnetwork.com now to enter.
If you have any questions, please reach out to beardownnetwork@al.arizona.edu

In the News

FiveThirtyEight, quoting professor Derek Bambauer

Greenwire, quoting professor Justin Pidot

KVOA.com, quoting professor Toni Massaro

CBS News, discussing report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Arizona Law's Innovation for Justice program
The Print, opinion co-authored by professor Robert Glennon

We talk a lot about change and innovation. And we can defend with data and details the claim that the world is changing fast. The rate and scope of change can be unnerving.
For our college to prepare graduates for a changing world, and to ready them for long careers, we study, watch, and listen to leaders in the profession.
Brad Vynalek embodies both leadership within his firm and community and passionate, insightful, and steady engagement with his law school.
Brad has travelled with me to interact with alumni in the Bay Area. He has been among the alumni and friends willing to take the time for a deep dive into our challenges before, during, and -- we are just now beginning to see through the fog -- after COVID-19. Brad often gives subtle advice by illustrating the challenges and decisions he and his colleagues face.
You hear me, and have long heard other deans, professors, and members of our community, talk about how important our alumni are to our success -- now and down the road. You can see in Brad's career, his wisdom, and in his commitments, precisely why this is not just talk: the links to our alumni are the thread that binds our community together and connects it across generations. 


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