University of Arizona Law to Honor Three Alumni with 2018 Lifetime Achievement Awards

Sept. 26, 2018

University of Arizona Law Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are selected by Arizona Law faculty for their distinguished and exemplary careers, contributions to the legal profession, support for public causes and law reform, and commitment to the pursuit of justice.  

This year, Arizona Law recognizes Barbara Atwood (‘76), Philip Alan Robbins (‘56and Judge Frank Zapata (‘73) 

Lifetime Achievement Awards Reception  

Date:  Friday, Oct. 26, 2018 
Time:5:30-7 p.m.  
Where: James E. Rogers College of Law, Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie Lobby (Location and Parking info)
RSVP:Alumni & Development Office,  

2018 Honorees 

Barbara Atwood, Class of 1976 

Arizona Law Professor and Co-Director of the Family and Juvenile Law Certificate Program Barbara Atwood received her juris doctor (JD) from Arizona Law in 1976.  

Atwood first clerked for the late Mary Anne Richey, United States District Judge for the District of Arizona, and then worked as a Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. She taught at the University of Houston Law Center from 1981 to 1986 before joining the Arizona Law faculty in 1986.  

Her scholarship explores topics at the intersection of civil procedure and family law, with a particular focus on issues of voice and representation for marginalized groups. She has spoken at national and international conferences on child representation, child's voice, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and private ordering in family law.  

Her books include "Children, Tribes, and States: Adoption and Custody Conflicts Over American Indian Children" (2010) and "A Courtroom of Her Own: The Life and Work of Judge Mary Anne Richey" (1998).  

Atwood was appointed to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 2006 by then-Governor Janet Napolitano and continues to serve as a Uniform Law Commissioner. She is currently the chair of the Joint Editorial Board for Uniform Family Laws and is the ULC Liaison Member on the American Law Institute's Restatement of Children and the Law drafting project. Atwood was appointed Judge Pro-Tem of the Tohono O'odham Nation in 2013. 

Philip Alan Robbins, Class of 1956 (posthumous) 

Philip Alan Robbins grew up in Tucson and the Arizona Wildcats always held a special place in his heart. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in 1955, and completed his JD at Arizona Law in 1956 

After clerking for a U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles, he was a trial lawyer in San Diego, California, as an Assistant District AttorneyRobbins moved home to Arizona in 1958, after accepting a position at the firm of Moore and Romley. In 1973, he founded, with several colleagues, the firm of Robbins, Green, O’Grady and Abbuhl, which flourished as a well-respected legal presence in Arizona for over three decadesRobbins then spent three years as Special Counsel to Jennings, Strouss and Salmon, and served as Special Counsel to Sandweg and Ager, P.C., from 2008 until his retirement in 2017. His practice included domestic and international arbitration and mediation, although for the majority of his career he was a trial lawyer, litigating commercial disputes, antitrust cases, and torts.  

He held membership and leadership roles in many law-related, business and cross-border organizations, including: Fellow of the American College of Trial LawyersDiplomat in the American Board of Trial Advocates, where he also received the Professionalism Award. He was inducted into the Maricopa County Bar Association Hall of Fame in 2010; was Chair of the State Bar of Arizona International Law Section and President of the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association. Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade; Chair of the U.S.-Mexico Bar Association; President of the Arizona-Mexico Commission; President of the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission; and President of the Border Health Foundation. He was a member of the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations and the NAFTA Advisory Committee on the Use of Mediation and Arbitration in Private Commercial Disputes. He was a member of the Arizona Supreme Court's Arizona-Sonora Judicial Cooperation Project, and an observer delegate with the UNCITRAL Working Group on Model Arbitration Law. He was a past president and member of the Arizona Business Alliance for over 30 years. He was a delegate to a White House Conference on Small Business, a former Board Member of the Phoenix Opportunities Industrialization Center, and was a member of the Arizona Law Board of Visitors. Up until his death, he was a member of the Executive Board of Vote Smart-Facts Matter. 

Robbins was a mentor to many young professionals, demonstrating legal skills, and communicating the importance of professional respect, civility and perseverance. 

Honorable Frank Zapata, Class of 1973 

Senior United States District Judge Frank R. Zapata has served over four decades of his legal career practicing before or presiding over matters in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.  

The youngest of five children, Judge Zapata was born and raised in Safford Arizona. He began his college education at Eastern Arizona College where he received his associates degree in 1964. He transferred to the University of Arizona and earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1966.  

After teaching English and Literature in the Arizona public school system for three years, he pursued his law degree at University of Arizona Law, earning his JD in 1973.  

From 1967 to 1973, during the time of his postgraduate studies and his graduation from law school, the Judge served in the Arizona Army National Guard. 

He served as a staff attorney for Southern Arizona Legal Aid before accepting a position with the Federal Public Defender's Office, where he served as an Assistant Public Defender and Chief Assistant for 20 years. It was during this time that Judge Zapata taught trial practice as an assistant adjunct professor at Arizona Law. 

Prior to his judicial appointment, Judge Zapata held office and served on both legal and community public service boards of directors for more than 20 years. He also served as a Lawyer Delegate to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference from 1989 to 1993. 

In May of 1994, Judge Zapata was appointed as a United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Arizona. During his tenure as a Magistrate Judge, he served on the Executive Board of the Ninth Circuit Magistrate Judges. 

When the late Honorable Richard C. Bilby took senior status, Judge Zapata was nominated to the district bench. Upon his confirmation by the Senate, Judge Zapata was appointed United States District Judge by President William J. Clinton and sworn into office on August 1, 1996.  

He has served on a number of committees, including the Ninth Circuit Judicial Standing Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution and Magistrate Judge Utilization Committee. During his tenure on the district bench, Judge Zapata has sat by designation on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Pasadena and Portland. 

Judge Zapata has been the recipient of a number of distinctions and awards during his career, including honored as the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus by the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College and in 2014 by the Tucson William D. Browning Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, for 40 years of dedication to the practice of law and as a distinguished member of the federal bench.