July 2020 Outstanding Volunteer of the Month

Every month, Southern Arizona Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) recognizes a legal professional for their legal 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.

Chris Jeffrey is the July 2020 Outstanding Volunteer of the Month Award Recipient.

Originally from northwest Tucson, Chris graduated from Mountain View High School and attended the University of Arizona for both his undergraduate and law degrees. He currently practices Criminal, Business, and Family Law at the Law Office of Christopher M. Jeffrey. The quality he admires most in a lawyer is the to ability to zealously represent clients, and have empathy for them, while maintaining the objectivity to assess the facts and remain impartial in applying the law.

His career high point so far was his first solo trial where he represented a client in a very sensitive family law case that involved the client’s sister and cousin, all of whom were from Africa. The challenge of this case was to illustrate for the judge the importance of the family’s customs alongside the application of relevant laws. He was successful in obtaining a dispositive hearing with a favorable ruling for his client. Although Chris has had several favorable outcomes for clients since then, this case convinced him of his ability to advocate well for his clients in difficult cases. More recently, in the business law context, he was able to obtain a large settlement for his client, an independent producer of healing conferences, against a large national corporation. Chris also represents many marijuana clients and is interested in the decriminalization of marijuana due in part to the negative effect of felonies on young people.

Chris is a dedicated community volunteer. At SALA, he teaches Divorce Classes and Clinics. When SALA recently transitioned from in-person to remote videoconferencing due to COVID-19, Chris was willing to be the first volunteer attorney to teach a remote class. He is an engaging presenter, and the attendees were able to get the information they needed. Chris’s volunteer background is extensive. After law school, he worked at the Community Outreach Program for the Deaf in Tucson, where he developed an electronic filing system; he also wrote a computer program that allowed for selecting criteria from a list, which made grant writing and reporting a more efficient and streamlined process. From this experience, he was able to learn some sign language in order to communicate with people he met and worked with. He has also been involved with the Chamber of Commerce’s Greater Tucson Leadership Program. He enjoys the experience of volunteering, especially the chance to visit interesting places, engage with the community, and meet other local volunteers and leaders.

If Chris had not become a lawyer, he would have been a videogame programmer or a music producer. He enjoys creating electronic music and has used his talents to put on benefits and shows as a DJ music producer. As a kid, he learned how to program videogames. A non-legal career high point was when he finished his first videogame, called “Retribution,” which was an enormous undertaking. Between college and law school, he worked as an accountant at a software development office and did minor software coding. He also worked for software start-up companies in Scottsdale doing software development. He sees parallels between software development and practicing law. As he explained, in software development, you take data, create a code, and then run the data through the code to output a result. In the law, your facts are the data, and the law is the code you apply to create an appropriate ruling. He enjoys working with start-up businesses because he is drawn to entrepreneurs’ creativity and hope for the future. In his law practice, Chris works with many small companies, such as a local art gallery, a yoga studio, a band, and a producer of healing conferences.

Chris’s real-life heroes are his parents, who have always had faith in him, gave him a second chance in life, and showed him the power of redemption. A principle Chris tries to live by, which is something his parents taught him, is that life can be overwhelming, but take advantage of opportunities without fear of failure. If you’ve done your best, you have nothing to be worried about or ashamed of. Nothing cheers Chris up like seeing his six-month old, Golden Retriever puppy, Mogi, waiting for him when he gets home.

For questions or comments about the blog, please contact us at: Connections@sazlegalaid.org

Justin Haugen Photography