Every month, Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc.’s (“SALA”) Volunteer Lawyers Program (“VLP”) recognizes a legal professional for their legal volunteerism. The award is a distinct honor and highlights the dedication and commitment of 12 individuals each year who give their valuable time and expertise to their community. Attorney Geoffrey K. Ulreich (https://www.wwlplc.com/geoffrey-k-ulreich) is the December 2022 Outstanding Volunteer of the Month Award Recipient.
One of the distinct rewards of working with the Volunteer Lawyers Program is meeting all of the successful attorneys who have dedicated a portion of their practice to the public good. I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Geoff Ulreich this month to highlight his work and his volunteerism for SALA and other legal non-profits in our community. Geoff is both a successful attorney in private practice (probate litigation, guardianship, estate planning) and a genuinely kind caring individual. We had a great time discussing a range of topics from the love of our cats (his named “Callie” and “Vince, the Cat Formerly Known as Prince”) to his successful FEGLI (Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Program) litigation.
Geoff’s parents were both professors, which may partially explain his highly successful educational career. Geoff’s undergraduate degree in political science was attained from the University of Arizona (he’s a native Tucsonan). Later, Geoff earned his juris doctor from the prestigious University of Michigan law school in 2005, where he was the executive editor for law review. In addition to his distinguished educational credentials, Geoff credits his trial practice skill to working with Stanlee West-Watt. He shared that his trial practice knowledge stemmed from volunteering at VLP / Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc., where it was suggested he observe some trials in Pima County Superior Court. One of the first trials he observed was by attorney Stanlee West-Watt who was very supportive of his observation and learning. Geoff ultimately joining West-Watt Law as an attorney and he remains there today.
Geoff volunteers on Saturdays at a collaborative project between VLP/SALA and KARE Family Center (“Kinship and Adoption Resource and Education” Family Center). He teaches minor guardianship law to the general public in need of filing guardianship cases with the court. Geoff has shared that he really enjoys doing this work (so much so, he added that he’d do it twice a month if it was needed!). The feedback VLP receives from this program is very positive, both from our paralegals who observe and assist and from the individuals who attend. VLP is so grateful to his talent and skill, and his commitment and dedication to this program. Geoff also volunteers in several other legal non-profits in Tucson as well. It is important to mention that West-Watt Law’s entire roster of attorneys, including (and importantly) Stanlee West-Watt, are highly dedicated and involved in pro bono legal work in Tucson. The culture of the firm is a true commitment to pro bono dedication and is admirable.
Geoff’s teaching skills in the guardianship clinic are amazing. He takes a statute-heavy and form-heavy area of law and distills it into understandable pieces for the community and people in need. Geoff attributes his teaching skill to working/volunteering as a tutor at the SALT (Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques) Center at the University of Arizona. There, among other duties, he tutored students with learning disabilities in economics. This type of work and study helped Geoff excel in property and contracts courses in law school and continues to help him in his volunteer work at VLP/SALA.
We are truly grateful to have Geoff as one of our volunteers – for his teaching skills, legal intellect and his personable, kind disposition. The Volunteer Lawyers Program at SALA is able to help hundreds of people each year with Geoff’s personal contributions.