John Kelly

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John has substantial experience representing for-profit and not-for-profit companies in a wide variety of legal and business areas, from commercial, employment, tort and insurance-related litigation to real estate, corporate management, health care and school law issues. As a trial lawyer, John has tried more than 100 cases to conclusion, including jury trials, bench trials, arbitration matters and administrative law proceedings. He currently serves as a judge pro tem for the Maricopa County Superior Court, conducts settlement conferences, and has been retained on a number of occasions to serve as a private mediator. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Academy of Dispute Resolution. He is a trained Neutral (Mediations/Arbitrations) and a Peer Review Officer with the American Health Lawyers Association.

Prior to joining Coppersmith Brockelman, John served as the General Counsel of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, where he directed all litigation and supervised various legal matters for the Diocese and more than 100 parishes, schools and affiliated organizations. He also served on the Executive Board and was Vice President and General Counsel of Leslie’s Poolmart, Inc., directing all litigation for the company and its 600+ stores. Prior to joining Leslie’s, John was in private practice for 12 years, most recently as a partner in the law firm of Leonard, Collins & Kelly, where his practice concentrated on commercial and employment litigation.

Representative Matters

  • Represented owners of exotic and classic collector cars in jury trial against professional restoration company for breach of contract/fraud, resulting in substantial verdict for clients.
  • Represented motorcycle accident victim in a jury trial seeking damages for substantial personal injuries, resulting in a multi-million dollar verdict for client.
  • Successfully defended former officers and directors of failed savings and loans and insurance companies in various fraud and breach of fiduciary duty actions.
  • Represented electrical contractor in litigation and mediation of significant construction payment claims related to Toyota test track project, resulting in substantial settlement for client.
  • Defended Phoenix greyhound racetrack, Phoenix baseball stadium, and airport concessionaires in numerous premises liability and employment liability cases.
  • Successfully managed the defense of three separate state and federal wage and hour employment class actions for Leslie’s Poolmart (litigated in California).
  • Assisted with several recapitalization and merger transactions on behalf of Leslie’s, and supervised the completion of 9 private placement bond and three public bond offerings for the Diocese of Phoenix.
  • Supervised and personally negotiated commercial real estate leases for more than 150 retail stores and more than 10 new commercial/industrial facilities at Leslie’s.
  • Restructured the entire Diocese of Phoenix by creating 110 separate non-profit corporations and implementing new corporate governance policies.

Awards & Recognitions

  • The Best Lawyers in America©: Health Care Law (2024), Commercial Litigation (2021 present); Real Estate Law (2022, 2024); Arbitration (2023 – present) 
  • Southwest Super Lawyers: Civil Litigation Defense (2021 2024)
  • Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent® rated

Activities & Memberships

  • Judge Pro Tem, Maricopa County Superior Court (2012 – present)
  • Member, Advisory Board, Catholic Mutual Buying Alliance (2009 – 2012)
  • Member, St. Thomas More Law Society (2008 – present)
  • Member, Past Board Member, Phoenix Men’s Arts Council (1994 – present)
  • Member, Stanford Club of Phoenix and Stanford Buck Club (1982 – present)
  • Member, Brophy Prep Alumni Foundation and President’s Club (Phoenix, AZ) (1989 – present)
  • Member, DOPCCM Advisory Council (2012 – present)
  • Judge, Jessup Court Competition, Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law (1994 – 1999)
  • Coach, Arizona State Olympic Dev. Soccer Program and Sereno Soccer Club (1988 – 2004)
  • Frequent lecturer for the State Bar of Arizona, for various professional education organizations, and for clients on non-profit corporate management, legal ethics and professionalism, workers’ compensation (basic and advanced), employee handbooks, sexual harassment, conducting internal investigations, conducting campus investigations, contract negotiation, workplace safety, and trial practice and preparation issues
  • Volunteer Lawyer, Maggie’s Place and Fresh Start Women’s Foundation (2011 – present)
  • Volunteer Lawyer and Creator of Women’s Law Day, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation (2013 – present)

Education & Admissions

  • J.D., Arizona State University, 1989
  • B.A., Stanford University, 1985
  • Admitted in Arizona, 1989
  • Admitted California, 1990
  • Admitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the United States District Courts for the District of Arizona, and the Southern, Northern, and Central Districts of California

John C. Kelly
Rated by Super Lawyers

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