Phoenix School of Law Names Penny Willrich as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

Arizona’s first African American female trial court judge to be responsible for enhancing the educational experience of the School of Law's student body.

Phoenix, AZ, June 03, 2011 --( Phoenix School of Law Professor Penny Willrich has been appointed as the new Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, beginning July 1st. She will take on the post as Associate Dean Shandrea Solomon steps down to become a full-time Assistant Professor of Law.

“Professor Penny Willrich is the perfect person to serve as our Associate Dean for Academic Affairs,” said Shirley L. Mays, Dean of Phoenix School of Law. “As one of the tenured faculty members of the law school, she is both knowledgeable and passionate about Phoenix School of Law. A former judge, Professor Willrich is a well-respected member of the legal community and a great model for our culture.”

"If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the entire Phoenix Law family – students, faculty, staff, and administrators – to lead and develop an educational institution,” said Penny Willrich, newly appointed Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. “I look forward to working with all of my colleagues at PhoenixLaw as we strive to develop a Center of Excellence, as we implement programs and projects to further our mission pillars, as we become more entrenched in the fabric of the legal community and as we continue to graduate lawyers who rock the state in bar passage. This new job is a set of new responsibilities in a labor of love.”

Prior to teaching at PhoenixLaw, Professor Willrich served as the first African American woman trial court judge in the history of the State of Arizona from 1999 to 2005. She served in the Juvenile, Criminal, and Family Division. However, she continues to serve the Court as a Judge Pro Tem. From 1995 to 1999, Professor Willrich served as a Commissioner of the Superior Court in Maricopa County. She served in the Juvenile and Criminal Division. As a Juvenile Court Commissioner, Professor Willrich was appointed by the Supreme Court of Arizona to prepare the initial draft of re-drafted Juvenile Court Rules.

From 1992-1994, Professor Willrich served as an Assistant Director of the Department of Economic Security – Administration of Children, Youth and Families Division. Willrich was instrumental in securing legislation that would fund a multi-year statewide technological improvement initiative which placed computers at the desk of every social worker assigned to Child Protective Services and allowed the Department to better track the services being provided to children in foster care.

In June, 1987, Professor Willrich joined Community Legal Services (Phoenix, AZ) as its managing attorney and Director of Domestic Violence. Willrich often testified before the Arizona Legislature on pending domestic violence and family law bills. She was instrumental in re-writing the Domestic Violence Victims Handbook, as well as getting legislation passed that protects the address of domestic violence shelters.

Professor Willrich holds active licenses to practice law in Texas and Arizona. She is a member of the District Courts for the Northern District of Texas and Phoenix District. She is also admitted to the 5th and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeals. She also serves on the Supreme Court of Arizona Centennial Commission, Commission on Minorities in the Judiciary, the Arizona Black Lawyers Association Board of Director, the Arizona Black Women Lawyers Board of Directors and is a AZ State Bar Disciplinary Hearing Officer. She serves on the Boards of Directors for Community Legal Services, Arizona African Drum and Dance, the Arizona Advocacy Network, the Mesa Community College Justice Department Advisory Board, the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, The Center for African American Health, and is the founder of the Arizona Youth Innocence Project, Inc. Professor Willrich has received many educational, community, and professional awards for her service to the Community, including the 2008 NAACP Roy Wilkins Award.

About Phoenix School of Law
Phoenix School of Law is Arizona’s only law school offering full-time, part-time day, and part-time evening programs. The School received full approval from the American Bar Association in June 2010. PhoenixLaw’s mission pillars are to provide student outcome-centered education, produce practice ready graduates, and serve the underserved. For more information about PhoenixLaw, visit or call 602-682-6800.

Phoenix School of Law
Juliet Gomez