Sam Coppersmith

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Sam’s practice centers on business and transactional issues, with an emphasis on business organization, governance and compliance, exempt organizations, contract negotiation, land use, and business planning.  He has nearly four decades of experience assisting both local and national businesses and nonprofits as well as individuals and small businesses.

Sam also has extensive political and governmental experience. As a 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 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

  • Az Business magazine: Az Business Leaders (2020)
  • The Best Lawyers in America©: Corporate Law (2018 – present); Real Estate Law (2019); Health Care Law (2018)
  • Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Arizona Chapter: Spirit of Philanthropy Award (2013)
  • Peggy Goldwater Award recognizing contributions to Planned Parenthood of Arizona (2007)
  • Age-group triathlete who completed Ironman Florida in 2015 (at age 60) in 14:32. Completed 3 half Ironman races in 2011, 2018, and 2019, and Arizona Open Water Masters Swim age group champion at 5000m in 2017 and 2018.

Political and Government Experience

  • Member of Congress, 1st District, Arizona, 103rd Congress (1993 – 1995)
  • Co-Chair, Transition Team, U.S. Representative Harry Mitchell, 5th District, Arizona (2006 – 2007)
  • Public Member, Governor’s Regulatory Review Council, Arizona (2005 – 2009)
  • Chair, Arizona Democratic Party, and member, Democratic National Committee (1995 – 1997)
  • Chair, Arizona Delegation to 1996 Democratic National Convention
  • Member, City of Phoenix Board of Adjustment, Phoenix, AZ (1989 – 1992), Chair (1991 – 1992)
  • Assistant to Phoenix Mayor Terry Goddard (1984)
  • Foreign Services Officer, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC and Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies (1977 – 1979)

Publications & Speeches

  • Co-presenter, “501 (c)(3) Organization Formation From Start to Finish,” National Business Institute webcast, Altoona, WI (2019)
  • Presenter, “Director and Officer Legal Liabilities, Duties, Roles and Responsibilities,” National Business Institute webcast, Altoona, WI (2019)
  • Presenter, “Nonprofit Bylaws: Drafting Bootcamp,” National Business Institute webcast, Altoona, WI (2018)
  • Co-presenter, “Private Foundations from Start to Finish,” National Business Institute webcast, Altoona, WI (2018)
  • Presenter, “Advanced Nonprofit Law,” National Business Institute webcast, Altoona, WI (2017)
  • Presenter, “Tax-Exempt Organization Process: A to Z,” National Business Institute webcast, Altoona, WI (2017)
  • Presenter, “Ultimate Guide to Tax Exempt Organizations,” National Business Institute webcast, Altoona, WI (2016)
  • Presenter, “Trustee 101: A Toolkit for New (and Not-So-New) Hospital Trustees,” Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, Marana, AZ (2016)
  • Presenter, “Philanthropy & Public Policy,” Social Venture Partners Arizona, Phoenix, AZ (2016)
  • Presenter, “Drafting and Revising Nonprofit Bylaws: Common Pitfalls and Best Practices,” National Business Institute, Altoona, WI (2015 and 2017)
  • Presenter, “Advanced Tax Exempt Organizations: Top 12 Challenges,” National Business Institute webcast, Altoona, WI (2015)
  • Presenter, “Churches and Lobbying,” Monsignor Edward J. Ryle Fund, Phoenix, AZ (2015)
  • Presenter, “A Very Brief Overview on Doing Business in the USA,” Aboriginal Centre for Excellence teleconference, Ohsweken, ON, Canada (2014)
  • Presenter, “Forming and Sustaining Hospital Districts in Arizona,” Arizona Rural Hospital Flexibility Program teleconference, Tucson, AZ (2014)
  • Presenter, “Nonprofit Formation: A Step-by-Step Guide,” National Business Institute video conference, Altoona, WI (2014)
  • Presenter, “Serving on a Nonprofit Board: What Lawyers Need to Know,” New York Law School, New York, NY (2013)
  • Authored weekly political column for Tribune newspapers’ Sunday “Perspective” section (1999 – 2008)

Activities & Memberships

  • Board of Directors, Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (May 2020 – present)
  • Director and Secretary, Safe Passage Project (2013-present)
  • Trustee, Harvard Band Foundation (2014-present)
  • Member, Devereux Board of Trustees (1997 – 2019), Chair (2011 – 2017)
  • Member, Board of Directors, Planned Parenthood of Arizona (1988 – 1992), President (1992)
  • Volunteer Lawyers Program “For Love of Justice” Award for assistance to nonprofit agencies (2005)
  • International Election Monitor/Observer, Kenya (2017); Egypt (2011); Ukraine (2004); Republic of Georgia (2000, 2016); Albania (1997)


  • Hon. William C. Canby, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Phoenix, AZ 1982 – 1983

Education & Admissions

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