Sam Coppersmith

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Sam’s practice centers on business and transactional issues, with an emphasis on business organization, corporate governance, exempt organizations, contract negotiation, land use, and business planning. He has more than three decades of experience assisting both local and national businesses and nonprofit entities as well as individuals and small businesses.

Sam also has extensive political and governmental experience. A former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he served as a member of the Transportation and Science committees. He has also served as the Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, and on numerous state and local boards and commissions.

Sam served as managing partner of the firm from its founding until he stepped down in 2011.

Representative Matters

  • Forming new (or revived) nonprofit entities, obtaining IRS recognition of exempt status, and developing governance and oversight structures for new, newly-merged, and existing nonprofits.
  • Local counsel for national nonprofit organizations and Arizona operations of national businesses
  • New business entity formation and planning for local entrepreneurs, healthcare providers, and Arizona operations of national businesses.
  • Local counsel for Arizona aspects of national purchases, sales, financings, or spinoffs of business and real estate.
  • Contract negotiations for large and small businesses.
  • Represented ASE-listed national homebuilder in Arizona real estate acquisition, sales, and operational issues.
  • Primary outside counsel for governance and transactions for the nonprofit corporation serving as the Maricopa County Regional Behavioral Health Authority, operating one of the nation’s largest managed-care behavioral health contracts, which in 2014 began a nationally-unique integration of Medicaid acute-care and behavioral health services for nearly 1 million eligible individuals.
  • Counsel to several Arizona hospital districts, which own and lease several critical access care hospitals throughout the state.

Awards & Recognitions

  • Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Arizona Chapter, 2013 Spirit of Philanthropy Award
  • Peggy Goldwater Award recognizing contributions to Planned Parenthood of Arizona (2007)
  • Ran first marathon at age 49; Best time; 4:06, Rock-n-Roll Arizona, 2006. More recently, switched to triathlons; PR Olympic distance, Tempe International Triathlon 2011, 2:47; Half Ironman, Vineman 70.3, 2011, 6:23; Ironman, IM Florida 2015, 14:32

Political and Government Experience

  • U.S. Representative Harry Mitchell, 5th District, Arizona: Co-Chair, Transition Team (2006-07)
  • Governor’s Regulatory Review Council, Arizona: Public Member (2005-09)
  • Chair, Arizona Democratic Party, and member, Democratic National Committee, 1995-97; Chair of Arizona Delegation to 1996 Democratic National Convention
  • Member of Congress, 1st District, Arizona, 103rd Congress, 1993-95
  • City of Phoenix Board of Adjustment, Phoenix, AZ: Member, 1989-92; Chair 1991-92
  • Assistant to Phoenix Mayor Terry Goddard, 1984
  • U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC and Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies: Foreign Service Officer, 1977-79

Publications & Speeches

  • “Ultimate Guide to Tax Exempt Organizations,” National Business Institute, Altoona, WI, 2016 (video webcast)
  • “Trustee 101: A Toolkit for New (and Not-So-New) Hospital Trustees,” Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, Marana, AZ, 2016
  • “Philanthropy & Public Policy,” Social Venture Partners Arizona, Phoenix, AZ, 2016
  • “Drafting and Revising Nonprofit Bylaws: Common Pitfalls and Best Practices,” National Business Institute, Altoona, WI, 2015 (teleconference)
  • “Advanced Tax Exempt Organizations: Top 12 Challenges,” National Business Institute, Altoona, WI, 2015 (video webcast)
  • “Churches and Lobbying,” Monsignor Edward J. Ryle Fund, Phoenix, AZ, 2015
  • “A Very Brief Overview on Doing Business in the USA,” Aboriginal Centre for Excellence, Ohsweken, ON, Canada, 2014 (teleconference)
  • “Forming and Sustaining Hospital Districts in Arizona,” Arizona Rural Hospital Flexibility Program, Tucson, AZ, 2014 (teleconference)
  • “Nonprofit Formation: A Step-by-Step Guide,” National Business Institute, Altoona, WI, 2014 (video webcast)
  • “Serving on a Nonprofit Board: What Lawyers Need to Know,” New York Law School, New York, 2013
  • Authored weekly political column for Tribune newspapers’ Sunday “Perspective” section, 1999-2008

Activities & Memberships

  • Devereux Board of Trustees; Member (1997 – present), Chair (2011 – present)
  • Planned Parenthood of Arizona; Board Member (1988-92), President (1992)
  • Volunteer, Lawyers Program For Love of Justice Award for assistance to nonprofit agencies (2005)
  • International Election Monitor, Egypt, 2011; Ukraine, 2004; Republic of Georgia, 2000 and 2016, Albania, 1997


  • Hon. William C. Canby, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Phoenix, AZ 1982-83

Education & Admissions

  • J.D., Yale Law School, 1982
  • A.B., Harvard College, 1976, magna cum laude
  • Admitted in Arizona, 1983
  • Admitted in California, 1982