Top Lawyer 2022: Emily A. Ward, Business Litigation

Editorial StaffSeptember 2, 2022
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It’s time to lawyer up! Our inaugural list of the Valley’s most respected legal eagles spans 39 specialties, from personal injury attorneys to business litigators. And all of them are peer-selected, so you know they’ll do your case justice.

Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Photo by Mirelle Inglefield

Emily A. Ward

Specialty: Business litigation
Law School/Year Graduated: University of Arizona, 2012
Years in Practice: 10

You knew you wanted to be a lawyer at a young age. What was your “aha moment”?
[It was] during my sophomore year on Xavier College Prep’s Mock Trial team. I dramatized the key line in the case, “I’m going to stuff you full of lead,” at the very beginning of my opening statement. When the judges took notice, I just knew, “I have to be a lawyer.”

How does business litigation differ from civil law? Is there any overlap?
Unlike civil litigation, business litigation almost always includes a contract. To be a skilled business litigator, you need to thoughtfully and perhaps creatively explain to the court how to interpret the contract. But all litigation, both business and civil, is like a chess game. You have to think three moves ahead in order to get the best resolution for your client.

You often take on pro bono clients seeking asylum. Why are refugee rights important to you?
The rule of law is very important to me. I’m only helping these clients attain the legal rights they are entitled to under U.S. law. When I won my last client’s case, it was surreal and heartwarming to see him in immigration detention one day and then see him at the grocery store a few weeks later.

What are your hobbies and interests outside law?
My husband, Mike, and I love hiking together. He just signed us up for our biggest hike yet – hiking rim-to-rim in the Grand Canyon. Wish us luck!

What are you watching on Netflix these days?
I think my daughters are singlehandedly keeping The Sea Beast on Netflix’s Top 10. After those two little gremlins go to bed, Mike and I love watching the hilarious vampires living on Staten Island in What We Do in the Shadows.

“If I wasn’t a lawyer, I’d be…”
A beer brewer. That’s probably a fitting choice for PHOENIX magazine’s beer guide issue, but it’s true. We’ve got a home-brew setup in our laundry room and can turn out a delicious IPA.

How we Picked our Top Lawyers

PHOENIX magazine generates its Top Lawyers list via an online survey of practicing attorneys in the Greater Phoenix area. Partnering with Colorado Springs-based information research firm Data Joe, PHOENIX disseminates emails to each of the roughly 16,000 active attorneys licensed with the State Bar of Arizona, directing them to an online portal managed by Data Joe. The survey, which takes place over six weeks, asks respondents to provide the names of up to three attorneys they deem the best in 39 legal specialties. To spread the votes democratically, respondents are asked to nominate at least one attorney in each category who works in a firm other than their own.

At the conclusion of the voting, Data Joe tallies the votes digitally and verifies that vote recipients are in good standing with the State Bar. PHOENIX editors then set the vote thresholds in a manner that ensures the top 10 to 20 percent of vote-getters in each category make the Top Lawyers list. Our fact-checkers then call each attorney on the final list to confirm their affiliation with a Valley-based firm and obtain accurate contact information.

PHOENIX does not give preference to attorneys who advertise. Top Lawyers earn their place on the list purely by virtue of the votes they receive, and our sales staff does not see the list until the lawyers have been confirmed by our fact-checkers. 2022 is the first year PHOENIX has conducted Top Lawyers.