Ruth McGregor

Areas of Achievement: 
Community Building
Higher Education

Honored By

Honored by: Fennemore Craig PC
Date submitted: April 04, 2008
Gift: Arch with Seating

Women Lawyers ~ Women Leaders Arch

Ruth Van Roekel McGregor was born in Le Mars, Iowa in 1943 and attended high school at Manson Community High School in Manson, Iowa. Justice McGregor excelled in her higher education, graduating summa cum laude and first in her class at the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Iowa in 1964. After receiving her bachelor's degree, Justice McGregor earned her M.A. from the University of Iowa, and then taught English and Speech to high school students in Phoenix, Arizona and Selma, Alabama for several years prior to attending law school. Justice McGregor graduated from Arizona State University College of Law in 1974, and again graduated first in her class. Justice McGregor also went on to receive her L.L.M. from the University of Virginia in 1998.

Justice McGregor worked as an employment attorney for the Phoenix law firm Fennemore Craig from 1974 to 1989. During her career in private practice, Justice McGregor took leave from the firm to serve as a law clerk to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor of the United States Supreme Court in 1981-1982. This experience clerking informed Justice McGregor's own judicial style, as she found herself employing some of the same tactics as Justice O'Connor, such as examining each case individually without a preconceived idea of the outcome.

McGregor was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1989, and served as Vice Chief Judge (1993-1995) and Chief Judge (1995-1997) during her time at that Court. In February 1998, Governor Jane Dee Hall appointed Justice McGregor to the Arizona Supreme Court, making her the second woman to ever serve on the state's highest court. Justice McGregor served as Vice Chief Justice to the Arizona Supreme Court from January 2002 to June 2005, and has served as Chief Justice to the Court since June 2005.

Throughout her career in private practice and the judiciary, Justice McGregor continued to actively participate in professional and community organizations, including groups that promote women in the law. Justice McGregor is a founding member of the Arizona Women Lawyer's Association, and serves as an officer of the National Association of Woman Judges. She has served as President, Vice-President and Secretary of the Arizona Judges' Association, and has served on several Supreme Court of Arizona commissions, including the Commission on Judicial Conduct and the Disciplinary Commission. Justice McGregor also participates in Arizona Town Hall, serves on the Board of Trustees for the American Inns of Court, and serves on the Boards of Visitors for the University of Arizona College of Law.

While Justice McGregor has clearly made significant contributions to Arizona organizations, her professional involvement extends far outside of Arizona: she is a member of the Central and East European Law Initiative of the American Bar Association. As part of her service for this organization, Justice McGregor traveled to Lithuania in 1991-1992 to assist parliament in drafting a constitution, and contributed to the restructuring of the judicial system. In 1993, Justice McGregor returned to Lithuania to present judicial ethics seminars.

Justice McGregor acknowledges the challenges and barriers that women lawyers face on a daily basis, and her own struggle as a female lawyer confronting gender stereotypes and discriminatory lawyers and clients. Justice McGregor points to how far women have come in the legal profession, and encourages women to embrace the challenges and benefits of a legal career. Justice McGregor advises aspiring female attorneys to 'establish priorities and follow them, recognizing thatÌÐpriorities can ̱ and should ̱ change asÌÐcareer and family demands change,' and to give back to the profession and community through service, as she has done during her distinguished legal and judicial career.