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August 13, 2019

Patricia Lee Refo becomes ABA’s president-elect

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 13, 2019 — Patricia Lee “Trish” Refo of Phoenix, a partner in the law firm Snell & Wilmer, today assumed the role of president-elect of the American Bar Association at the end of the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. She will serve a one-year term as president-elect then become ABA president in August 2020.

Judy Perry Martinez, of Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn in New Orleans, became ABA president today and will serve until next August.

“The American Bar Association has an extraordinary legacy of leadership in the legal profession,” Refo said. “As lawyers, when we work together, we can accomplish so much. When we passionately fight to improve access to justice, promote the rule of law and advance diversity and inclusion, we honor the hard work of those before us and ensure a stronger democracy going forward.” 

Refo was the ABA’s second-highest-ranking elected official from 2014-16 as chair of its policymaking House of Delegates. She has also served as chair of the ABA’s largest practice group, the Section of Litigation, and as chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Membership, the American Jury Project and the association’s grass-roots advocacy activity, ABA Day in Washington. Refo was also a member of the ABA Commission on Civic Education and the Separation of Powers.

In addition to her ABA involvement, Refo has served on the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Evidence of the United States Judicial Conference, appointed by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, and on the Arizona Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Rules of Evidence. She is a member of the American Law Institute and its Litigation Advisory Panel and is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education. Previously, Refo served as a director of the American Bar Endowment and as co-chair of the National Association of Women Lawyers Committee for the Evaluation of Supreme Court Nominees.

Among her many awards and recognitions, Refo received the President’s Award from the State Bar of Arizona and was the 2009 winner of the ABA Jury System Impact Award. She has been named to Best Lawyers in America® since 2003, listed as a Southwest Super Lawyer® since 2007, was the Phoenix Legal Malpractice Law “Lawyer of the Year” in 2012, received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and was named one of The 50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America by The National Law Journal.

Refo, who has practiced law for more than 30 years, received both her J.D. and B.A. from the University of Michigan.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.