Mark I. Harrison
1934 - 2021
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Mark I. Harrison

Mark I. Harrison, one of the country's most respected leaders in the field of legal and judicial ethics and professional liability, a guiding light in the Arizona legal community, passed away suddenly on January 11, 2021.

Mark was born on October 17, 1934 in Pittsburgh, PA. to Coleman, an attorney, professional musician and journalist, and Myrtle, an owner and operator of Camp Deer Creek, a well-known Jewish children's summer camp. His much-admired older brother Selig was a journalist and scholar. Mark attended Antioch College where he met his wife of 62 years, Ellen Gier. He then attended Harvard Law School.

The couple moved to Arizona in 1960, where Mark clerked for Arizona Supreme Court Justice Lorna E. Lockwood. From there, Mark embarked on 60 continuous years of law practice. He worked in several iterations of his own firm, including Harrison, Harper, Christian & Dichter before joining Bryan Cave, LLP in 1993. From 2004 until his passing, Mark was a partner at Osborn Maledon, P.A., where his practice focused primarily on legal ethics, lawyers' licensure, professional liability, judicial ethics and discipline, risk management, and writing "reply all" emails on a wide variety of topics.

Mark cared deeply about the legal profession and access to justice, and believed it was his obligation not just to care but to act. His impact went beyond his own law practice, as he devoted his prodigious determination on behalf of local, state and national bar associations, as well as countless civic and charitable organizations. His dedication to the profession and the Arizona legal community never waned. He served as President of the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors in 1975 and was again elected to the Board at the age of 85, 40 years later. His advocacy for civil and social justice included service as President of the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood in Arizona and as the first Chair of the Board of Directors of Teach For America Phoenix.

Mark was forever fueled by his convictions about the importance of an independent judiciary. He chaired the ABA Commission to revise the Model Code of Judicial Conduct and Justice at Stake, a national non-profit organization dedicated to preserving fair and impartial courts. He helped countless lawyers and psychologists facing disciplinary proceedings. Seeing their humanity, he represented them with compassion and skill. He taught legal ethics as an adjunct professor at both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University Law Schools. Mark loved serving as a mentor to younger professionals, mindful that the experience, knowledge, and values he had acquired should be paid forward to the next generation.

Harrison received numerous state and national awards, including the ABA's Michael Franck Award for Professional Responsibility, the Burnham "Hod" Greeley Award for contributions to understanding the role of the judiciary, the State Bar's Walter E. Craig Lifetime Achievement Award, the Charles W. Kettlewell Legal Ethics Advisory Award, the Judge Learned Hand Award for Community Service, and the Planned Parenthood Peggy Goldwater Award.

Mark relaxed by playing jazz standards on his father's baby grand Bechstein piano, delighting his wife and family. As in everything, he strived to improve, taking lessons throughout his adult life until the pandemic prevented it, but continuing his exercise regimen from home with his personal trainer of 31 years. He was deeply devoted to the care of his wife who suffers from Alzheimer's. He was a loving task master to his family, friends and even strangers, urging and aiding them to achieve their potential. Mark was effusively proud of his beloved daughters and granddaughters.

Mark is survived by his wife Ellen, his daughters Lisa and Jill (David Johns), granddaughters Greer Hansen and Zoe Hansen, former son-in-law Adrian Hansen, step-grandchildren Benjamin Johns (Jill Casselman), Adam Johns (Allysa Johns), Alexander Johns, three step-great-grandchildren and a vast group of family, friends and colleagues whom he cherished. Mark was buried at Mt. Sinai Cemetery on January 14, 2021. A celebration of Mark's life will be held later.

The family requests contributions be made in Mark's name to Planned Parenthood of Arizona, c/o Annet Ruiter, 4751 N. 15th St., Phoenix, AZ 85014, or to the University of Arizona Law College Association, directed to the Mark I. Harrison Scholarship 1201 E. Speedway Blvd., P.O. Box 210176, Tucson, AZ 85721 or or to Hospice of the Valley 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix, AZ 85014

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Arizona Republic from Jan. 19 to Jan. 24, 2021.
Memories & Condolences
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12 entries
April 12, 2021
I loved Mark! I was his secretary for only two years (1986-88), but never forgot him. I called him every year on his birthday and we kept in touch. I respected him and admired him. I remember Jill and Lisa when they were in high school! I will miss him. I'll pray for Jill, Lisa, Ellen and the rest of his family.

Terri Shroyer Sherrod
Terri Sherrod
February 24, 2021
A great loss that many in the legal field and personally are feeling. Mark always saw the potential in individuals and helped in drawing out that positive aspect. I am one of those individuals and have been grateful since 1990 starting as receptionist for Harrison Harper and now currently working as a courtroom clerk in Gila County Superior Court. Mark always showed concern and compassion for others and that is a quality that all should strive to imitate. May his life be shared with other and inspire many more to be a wonderful mentor.
Ruth Burke
February 3, 2021
I met Mark through ACS. Despite having so much on his plate, he always offered kind regards, helpful advice, and help on projects whenever he was able. This is an inspiring tribute and my thoughts are with Mark's family.
Meghan Paulas
January 26, 2021
I met Mark either through Planned Parenthood or through a legal ethics class that I attended immediately after passing the bar. Mark was a high-powered lawyer who treated me with kindness and showed interest in me as a person. He radiated warmth. It has been many years since I was a baby lawyer and I still remember the senior members of the profession who encouraged me. Thank you, Mark. You were a good man and will be missed.
Gecole L Harley
January 26, 2021
I loved working with Mark at Osborn Maledon. After leaving the firm, I frequently told myself the way to deal with a tough situation was to do what Mark would do. I hope I came close, at least sometimes. I will miss him.
Dan Kaplan
January 26, 2021
A great guy and caring soul. I always thought of him as a "lawyers lawyer".

May he rest in peace.
Robert Lewis
January 26, 2021
Devastating loss to the community. I worked with Mark for years at the ABA. He was an amazing leader, lawyer, and friend.
Corinne Cooper
January 25, 2021
I enjoyed very much working with and getting to know Mark at Osborn Maledon these past 16 years. Funny and sharp as a tack to the very end, and one of the nicest and most caring people I have ever known. I will miss him.
Karen McClain
January 25, 2021
Mark’s life - personal and professional - was the epitome of leadership and empathy. He is already missed.
Martha Barnett
January 25, 2021
Mark was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. He was always there offering help, advice, and encouragement. I will miss him and am grateful to have known him.
Kristal Leeder
January 24, 2021
Please except my deepest sympathies, May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.
Simone Taylor
January 23, 2021
Beautifully written tribute to Mark. He will be missed.
Sondra and Bill Myers
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