University of Denver

IAALS Advances Justice with Mark Nadeau

Founding Executive Director

IAALS simply would not be what it is without the support of our staff, partners, and friends. They are essential to our efforts and hail from a wide range of backgrounds, viewpoints, and sectors. Every month, IAALS shines the spotlight on one such person and takes you behind the scenes for a lighthearted glimpse into those upon whose guidance and support we rely. Together we are advancing justice.

Mark Nadeau, Co-Managing Partner, DLA Piper, Phoenix Office; Board of Advisors, IAALS

My initial one-on-one meeting with Mark took place in Phoenix, when I was recruiting him for the IAALS Board. Over the first cup of coffee, we figured out all of our interests in common—Colorado, ranching, horses, biking—and over the second cup, I asked him what, based on his knowledge of IAALS at the time, we should be doing differently. I remember distinctly that he said, with no hesitation: marketing and communications. He told me that IAALS was not reaching broad audiences, that our work was excellent but not as impactful as it could be because of the lack of a megaphone. And then, he began to help me think through how we might change that. Many of his ideas have made their way into our Communications Plan, and although we are still cracking the code, we are getting better.

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That was my initial exposure to Mark’s depth of thought, intellect, and candor. If you ask Mark a question, you will get an answer—an answer he has thought about and an answer that is directly responsive. It is a very valuable asset—on a Board, in an attorney, or anywhere else. Maybe it comes from having spent so many hours on the back of a horse….

We have been the beneficiaries of Mark’s deep generosity—with his time, his money, and his vision, and we are very grateful. We count him among IAALS’ blessings.

Earlier this month we caught up with Mark to bring you the most recent edition of Partner Profile. Mark has served on the Board of IAALS since 2015 and will step down July 1, 2019.

How did you initially get involved at IAALS? I was first contacted in 2013 when IAALS was conducting a survey of law firms for the Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Initiative. Becky’s connections with the Arizona Judiciary led her to me. She needed a major law firm operating nationally and internationally to participate in the work of the Institute. We had coffee in Phoenix, and realized we had a number of shared interests beyond the law, including ranching in Colorado that served as a bond for us.   

What projects have been most important to you? I was really intrigued with Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers because I am involved with training at DLA Piper. I speak at education events and conferences and serve as a Professor at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. I have been on the Board of Visitors for the University of Pittsburgh and taught at University of Virginia. Frankly, what is being taught in law schools today is only marginally relevant to what we now call the “whole lawyer” as defined by the Foundations for Practice project. We have work to do and I have been honored to be part of it.

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What is your idea of perfect happiness? On horseback with my wife and extended family and no one in trouble for anything … riding into the sunset over vistas and mountain passes. As Winston Churchill said: “Nothing is so good for the inside of a person as being outside on a horse.”

What is your greatest fear? Letting people down in some significant way, personally and/or professionally. It’s very important to me to be reliable, trusted, and present. I abide by the Code of the West, and encourage any person engaged in business to read the book by James P. Owen on how the Code applies to Wall Street.

What living person or historical figure do you most admire? Abraham Lincoln was indoctrinated in me at an early age by my mother. He’s why I became a lawyer. More personally, I admire a rancher, Leonard Wittemyer, for his honor and integrity. He and his brothers arrived in Boulder, Colorado, to homestead it in the early 1900s. I got to know him and worked at the ranch digging ditches and operating tractors (along with shoveling a lot of manure) during my early years. Likewise, my father played a very important role in my life. As the Chairman of the Theater Department at University of Colorado at Boulder, he taught me the value of performance and presence, and helped me to identify and leverage my talents. It makes me a better advocate in the courtroom.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why? Have you ever seen the movie, Castaway? First, I’d have a “Wilson”. Second, I’d have a sailboat, not to escape, but because I love to sail, and a horse…you get the idea.

Tell us some of your favorites – movies, books, music. Patton (movie); Kurt Vonnegut (writer); Wicked (musical theater); Van Halen, JUMP! (music).

What do you consider your greatest professional achievement? I’ve had several “careers” in my life. I was an EMT and once resuscitated a heart attack victim.  He lived about 5 more years and I got a very nice “Thank You” from his wife. As a police officer, I survived a couple of instances where my life was on the line. As a lawyer, I am very proud of my deep personal commitment to my clients and international work. The international disputes are fantastic legal and cultural puzzles, and my decision to get trained in that arena has made all of the difference in my legal career. Lastly, I’d be remiss if I did not mention family.  Being with Marilyn all of these years and raising two delightful people beats anything at work. I suppose that’s more than you asked. I’ve just had a wonderful life filled with incredible opportunities.