University of Arizona Law Establishes Scholarship in Honor of Judge Stephen M. McNamee

June 27, 2017

The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law has established the Stephen M. McNamee Scholarship in honor of alumnus and Senior United States District Judge Stephen McNamee (pictured at right). The scholarship is funded by McNamee’s friends and colleagues in an effort to honor his legacy and commitment to education.

McNamee received his JD from Arizona Law in 1969. He briefly worked in private practice before becoming an assistant U.S. attorney of the District of Arizona in 1971. He has spent the rest of his career in the public sector and is now the senior U.S. district judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

He remains actively involved with the Arizona Law community and is a longstanding member of the Law College Association, an organization that raises and manages funds to benefit students and programs.

As U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, McNamee helped develop a model program for assisting victims and witnesses of federal crimes, especially Native American victims. Serving in a district that included 19 Native American reservations, McNamee made prosecuting violent crime committed against Native American children a top priority.

McNamee is credited with having trained and mentored hundreds of Arizona’s foremost attorneys during his decades as a prosecutor and on the bench. The scholarship fundraising effort was led by fellow Arizona Law alumni Nicole Ong (‘08) and Paul Charlton (‘88).

“As Judge McNamee has touched my life and the lives of so many others, we wanted to show him our appreciation and honor his legacy by celebrating his love of the law school,” said Ong, who clerked for McNamee and is now general counsel for the Arizona Department of Administration. “Through this endowed scholarship, Judge McNamee will continue to impact the lives of aspiring attorneys and serve as a role model to all attorneys.”

Charlton, managing partner of Steptoe & Johnson’s Phoenix office, followed in McNamee’s footsteps as the U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona. “I and my practice have benefitted greatly by hiring Judge McNamee’s outstanding former clerks,” Charlton said. “It seemed a perfect way to match Judge McNamee’s mentoring with his desire to help Arizona law students by supporting a scholarship in his name.”

The scholarship committee quickly surpassed its initial $25,000 endowment goal, thanks to the generous support of McNamee’s friends and colleagues. Contributors echoed McNamee’s dedication to helping young law professionals and students alike.

“Judge McNamee has a proven track record of helping and mentoring attorneys to find meaningful and rewarding work in the law,” said Michael Bidwill, president of the Arizona Cardinals franchise and a former federal prosecutor who worked with McNamee. “This scholarship will ensure that legacy continues.”

Shruti Gurudanti (’15) is an associate at Dentons U.S. who clerked for McNamee and credits his mentorship with launching her career.

“I am where I am in my career today because of Judge McNamee's guidance,” Gurudanti said. “Words cannot express how grateful I am to have him as a mentor and to have had the opportunity to learn from him.”

McNamee is even known among his colleague as a tireless advocate for students and attorneys starting their careers.

“Steve is a leader and brings utmost integrity, judgment, and that incredible laugh to any serious undertaking,” said David Levi, dean of the Duke University School of Law and a former judge and U.S. attorney who has been close friends with McNamee for 30 years. “He is particularly committed to young people, whether young lawyers, college students or more generally. “He understands how important and difficult life transitions are for many young people. I know this scholarship will be particularly meaningful to him because of that commitment.”

If you wish to contribute toward the scholarship fund, please visit, and select “Stephen McNamee Scholarship.”