Charles W. Wirken
Charles W. Wirken
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Alternative Dispute Resolution
Appellate Practice
Commercial Litigation
Franchise Litigation
Real Estate Litigation

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Charles W. Wirken
Charles (Chas) Wirken’s extensive appellate experience coupled with his expertise has earned the respect of his peers and appellate judges, as indicated by his election as a Fellow in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, inclusion in Best Lawyers in America® in the Appellate Law category, and listings in the Appellate practice category of Southwest Super Lawyers®. Chas was named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Arizona in 2015, 2018, and 2021, and a Best Lawyers® Lawyer of the Year in 2016, 2018, and 2021.

Having briefed and argued nearly 200 appeals involving a broad range of cases and issues in both state and federal appellate courts, Chas has become a valuable resource to trial lawyers inside and outside of Gust Rosenfeld. He has served as a judge pro tem of the Arizona Court of Appeals and co-founded the State Bar Appellate Practice Section. He regularly shares his knowledge with other lawyers as a faculty member of the State Bar’s Appellate Practice Institute.

In 2009, Chas successfully petitioned the United States Supreme Court to hear the case of United Student Aid Funds, Inc. vs. Espinosa. He was the primary draftsman of the briefs leading to a favorable decision that settled the procedural requirements for the discharge of student loan debt in bankruptcy cases. In 2017, he briefed and argued the case of Howell v. Howell at the high court.

The other focus of Chas’s practice is the resolution of business disputes. He has tried a wide variety of commercial disputes to judges and juries in state and federal courts. His national reputation for the litigation of cases involving franchises, dealers, distributors and licensors is reinforced by his listing in The Best Lawyers in America® Franchising Law category. Since 1980, Chas has represented both franchisors and franchisees from various franchise systems, in contract, business tort, intellectual property and government regulation disputes typically encountered by such clients.

Chas brings to his advocacy the perspective of years of experience as a judge pro tem of the Maricopa County Superior court and as a former arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. As President of the State Bar of Arizona, Chas re-established the Arizona College of Trial Advocacy, where he annually serves as a faculty member.

In 2013, Chas was elected to membership in The American Law Institute, the leading, independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize and otherwise improve the law. In recognition of his many contributions to the law and justice in Arizona, Chas was inducted into the Maricopa County Bar Association Hall of Fame in 2015.

Chas is AV® Preeminent™ rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, representing the highest rating in legal ability and ethical standards.

University of Arizona College of Law (J.D. 1975)
University of Arizona (B.S. Business Administration, with distinction, Beta Gamma Sigma, 1972)

Arizona (1975)
United States Supreme Court (1980)
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth, Tenth and Federal Circuits

American Academy of Appellate Lawyers (Fellow)
American Bar Association
   House of Delegates, 2010-present
   Member, Council of Appellate Lawyers, 2001-present
   Member, Forum on Franchising, 1984-present
American Law Institute (Elected Member)
Arizona Court of Appeals (judge pro tem, 1984-85, 1992-94, 1998-99)
Maricopa County Superior Court (judge pro tem, 1986-present)
American Arbitration Association (Panel of Arbitrators, 1986-2005)
State Bar of Arizona
   President, 2004-2005
   Board of Governors, 1995-2006
   Appellate Practice Section, Executive Council, 1995-1996
   Trial Practice Section, Chair, 2001-2002
   Civil Practice and Procedure Committee, Chair 2006-2007; Member, 1977-present
   Client Protection Fund Board of Trustees, Chair 2012-2018
   Discipline Oversight Committee, Chair 2002-2004
Maricopa County Bar Association (President, 1989-1990)
East Valley Bar Association (President, 1979-1980)
Lorna Lockwood Inn of Court, Co-President 2011-2012
University of Arizona Law College Association Board of Directors, 2008-present

Howell v. Howell, 361 Ariz. 936 (2015), 137 S.Ct. 1400 (2017)
Lazar v. Kroncke, 862 F. 3d 1186 (9th Cir. 2017), cert. denied, 138 S.Ct. 2647 (2018)
Cassinelli v. Cassinelli, 138 S.Ct. 69 (2017), cert. denied
United Student Aid Funds, Inc. v. Espinosa, 559 U.S. 260 (2010)
Smith Plumbing Co., Inc. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 149 Ariz. 524, cert. denied, 479 U.S. 987 (1986)
In re Restated Trust of Crystal H. West, (Ariz. App. 2020)
Price v. City of Mesa, 236 Ariz. 267 (App. 2014)
Weitz Co., LLC v. Heth, 235 Ariz. 405 (2014)
In re Estate of Gardner, 230 Ariz. 329 (App. 2012)
Sourcecorp, Inc. v. Norcutt, 229 Ariz. 270 (2012)
In re Estate of Olson, 223 Ariz. 441 (App. 2010)
In re Hamm, 211 Ariz. 458 (2005)
Pleak v. Entrada Prop. Owners' Ass’n, 207 Ariz. 418 (2004)
Maricopa County v. Barfield, 206 Ariz. 109 (App. 2003)
Mealey v. Arndt, 206 Ariz. 218 (App. 2003)
Dodge v. Graville, 533 U.S. 945 (2001)
White Mountain Apache Tribe v. Smith Plumbing Co., Inc., 856 F.2d 1301 (9th Cir. 1988)
Henderson v. Duncan, 779 F.2d 1421, 3 Fed.R.Serv.3d 1547 (9th Cir. 1986)
Campbell v. Westdahl, 148 Ariz. 432 (App. 1985)
Birds Int’l Corp. v. Arizona Maint. Co., Inc., 135 Ariz. 545 (App. 1983)
Harris v. Arizona Bd. of Regents, 528 F. Supp. 987 (1981)
Nelson v. Cannon, 126 Ariz. 381 (App. 1980)
Matter of Chase’s Estate, 125 Ariz. 270 (App. 1980)

Oral Argument, ARIZONA APPELLATE HANDBOOK 2.0, Chap. Ten, (State Bar of Arizona 2020)
Giving Back: Senior Lawyers and Pro Bono, ARIZONA ATTORNEY, November 2019
Honorable Advocacy: New Paradigm or Mere Wish?, ARIZONA ATTORNEY, May 2005
Creating Skilled Trial Advocates, ARIZONA ATTORNEY, MAY 2002
Values Worth Protecting - Facing a New Millennium, ARIZONA ATTORNEY, October 2001
Contract Disclaimer Does Not Bar FTC Monetary Award, THE FRANCHISE LAWYER, Fall 1999

Mesa Judicial Advisory Board (2018-present)
Mesa Rotary Club (President; recipient 2018 Service Above Self Award)
Mesa United Way (campaign co-chair 2010-11)
Maricopa County Citizen’s Jail Oversight Committee, 1999-2007
Commission on Salaries for Elective State Officers, 1995-1996
Arizona Town Hall (delegate)

American Academy of Appellate Lawyers (Fellow)
Litigation Council of America (Senior Fellow)
The Best Lawyers in America® (Appellate Law and Franchising Law) 2003-2022
   Lawyer of the Year Phoenix (Franchise Law) 2016, 2018 ,and 2021
Southwest Super Lawyers® (Appellate) 2007-2021
Arizona’s Finest Lawyers 2010-
State Bar of Arizona President’s Award, 2019
Maricopa County Bar Association Member of the Year, 2019
Top 100 Lawyers in Arizona, Az Business, 2015, 2018, 2021
Maricopa County Bar Association Hall of Fame, 2015
American Law Institute, 2013
Top Rated Lawyers in Commercial Litigation, 2013
Top Attorneys in Arizona, 2006
Community Legal Services pro bono award, 1997
Lawyers Who Make a Difference, State Bar of Arizona, 1995
AV® Preeminent™ rated by Martindale-Hubbell®

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