Snell & Wilmer Partner Patricia Lee Refo Awardee of the 2023 Walter E. Craig Award for Distinguished Services


PHOENIX (June 15, 2023) – Snell & Wilmer is pleased to announce that Phoenix Partner Patricia Lee Refo was awarded the Walter E. Craig Distinguished Service Award by the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education.

The annual award is given to the attorney who has manifested adherence to the highest principles and tradition of the legal profession and service to the public in the community in which they live. 

Refo’s commitment to legal services, pro bono work, and service to the organized bar has always been strong. She served as President of the American Bar Association in 2021-2022, following in the footsteps of Walter E Craig as only the second Arizona lawyer to serve as ABA President. Before being elected ABA President, she served as Chair of the ABA House of Delegates and Chair of the ABA Section of Litigation. She twice chaired ABA Day in Washington, the ABA's annual lobbying effort on Capitol Hill to support adequate funding for the Legal Services Corporation. As ABA President, she made support for LSC a personal priority and spoke at multiple LSC-sponsored events designed to expand access to justice and support the legal services community. She now serves on LSC’s Leaders Council and its 50th Anniversary Steering Committee.  

Refo has also been active in pro bono matters. She has litigated prisoner’s rights matters in both class and individual actions and represented a death row inmate in post-conviction challenges to his death sentence. She regularly performs intake work at the Volunteer Lawyers’ Project in Phoenix, and she has volunteered with ABA Free Legal Answers, answering online legal questions from low-income Arizonans. She spent a week on the Texas border representing an asylum seeker through the ABA’s Pro Bar program and championing the needs of this underserved community. 

Refo’s practice is concentrated in complex commercial litigation and internal investigations, with extensive experience in professional malpractice defense, class actions, trade secret litigation, financial institutions litigation and commercial and business torts. She was a member of the Advisory Committee on the Arizona Rules of Evidence and served from 2000-2006 on the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Evidence by appointment of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. The National Law Journal named her one of 50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America. A graduate of the University of Michigan with high honors and high distinction and a cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, she was awarded the Medal of Honor by the World Jurist Association, the Jury System Impact Award by the ABA, the President’s Award by the State Bar of Arizona, and is a member of the Maricopa County Bar Hall of Fame.

About Snell & Wilmer
Founded in 1938, Snell & Wilmer is a full-service business law firm with more than 450 attorneys practicing in 16 locations throughout the United States and in Mexico, including Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, California; Denver, Colorado; Washington, D.C.; Boise, Idaho; Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; Dallas, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; Seattle, Washington; and Los Cabos, Mexico. The firm represents clients ranging from large, publicly traded corporations to small businesses, individuals and entrepreneurs. For more information, visit