Every month, Southern Arizona Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) recognizes a legal professional for their voluntarism. The award is a distinct honor. Of the 533 attorneys and paralegals who volunteer their time, twelve are recognized annually for their dedication to access to justice.
Gary B. Kraft is the December 2019 Outstanding Volunteer of the Month Award recipient.
While Gary was born in CA, he has lived in Tucson almost all his life, since he was eight years old. His mother grew up in Tucson and had graduated from Salpointe High School, so when his father retired from the Navy, the family moved here. He has two older sisters, Teresa, a retired nurse residing in the White Mountains, and Christine, who resides in Tucson and works for the Arizona Children’s Association.
Gary attended the University of Arizona for both undergraduate studies in political science, and for law school, although he took a year off in between to work at Baum’s Sporting Goods. In law school, Gary was on the Moot Court team and he was Executive Note Editor on Law Review. He graduated cum laude and briefly practiced civil litigation in California. However, a friend mentioned an opening in Tucson with the Hon. William D. Browning in Federal Court so Gary came back to Tucson to clerk for him for a while. After a stint at DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy, Gary ended up clerking in Federal Court again, first for Hon. Alfredo C. Marquez, and now the Hon. Jacqueline Rateau.
On top of this enjoyable work, he has taught at Pima Community College for twelve years in the paralegal program, currently legal research and computer legal research. He contributed some chapters to the 9th Circuit Judge’s Bench book for pre-trial criminal proceedings. The quality he likes most in a lawyer is honesty. The SCOTUS Justice he would like to have met, because he was so fascinating and humorous, was Anton Scalia.
One of Gary’s co-workers, Kevin Rudh, had been volunteering with SALA VLP’s minor guardianship clinics (as had Skip Skinner), so Gary was inspired to attend training and start teaching minor guardianship classes in 2013. He has been doing it ever since including with both SALA VLP and Step Up 2 Justice. He has kept volunteering through the summer in order to help people needing to get guardianship to enroll children in school so he is up to 12 classes this year with SALA. He used to travel to Sierra Vista and Pinal County to do clinics as well.
He finds it inspiring to see family members stepping up to take care of kids. His experience teaching helps with the patience needed to teach minor guardianship classes and as a result, he has some of the best reviews on SALA’s feedback forms from class attendees. They almost always mention how kind and patient Gary is. In his free time, Gary plays recreational softball and spends time with his family, composed of 18 year old Cole, 15 year old Carter, 15 year old step-son Tyler, and 12 year old step-daughter, Madelyn. Cole attends the University of Arizona and plays in the band, Rough Draft, which is a Best of Tucson band that tours the area. Gary likes music as well and his favorite artist is Bruce Springsteen. Gary and his wife, Paris, traveled to Ireland to see Springsteen perform once. Carter and Tyler skateboard, and Madelyn plays softball.
Gary’s wife, Paris Chacon, is a family law paralegal/Certified Legal Document Preparer with her own firm. She has started to teach divorce and paternity classes at SALA! They like to travel and every summer they take a big family vacation to drive thousands of miles and to visit family back east. Gary has completed a few full Ironmans, has ridden the full El Tour de Tucson bike century, has ran Boston Marathon, and currently does alpine climbing, involving glaciers and ice axes. He has summited Mt. Rainer and El Dorado Peak in the Cascades. However, nothing cheers him up like hanging out with his family.