Alan Sullivan was studying 17th Century English poetry in 1969 when the course of his career path changed.
He didn’t want to head to Vietnam with scores of his peers to fight in the war and knew that deferment was a possibility through enrolling in the AmeriCorps VISTA, a national service program designed to bring training and volunteers to the country’s economically disadvantaged places.
He worked on tenant’s rights issues at a small town in New Hampshire, an experience that eventually led him to find out how law could change the course of people’s lives. Instead of pursing an advanced degree in English, he turned to law, embarking on the start of an impressive legal career.
This month, Sullivan was honored as Distinguished Alumni by the University of Utah Alumni Association at the annual Founder’s Day celebration. The award is granted each year in recognition of alumni who have excelled professionally, served the local and national communities and supported the university in its mission.
Sullivan, a partner in Snell & Wilmer’s litigation group in Salt Lake City, has been practicing law in Utah for more than 30 years. He represents clients in litigation relating to intellectual property, natural resources development, securities, manufacturing, technology, finance and health care. He also represents lawyers and law firms regarding ethical issues pending before courts and disciplinary boards.
Sullivan is a fellow and past state chair of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a past chair of the Utah Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Civil Procedure. He is on the board of trustees for the American Inns of Court. He chaired the And Justice For All campaign to establish ongoing private funding for Utah Legal Service, Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake and the Disability Law Center, and co-chaired the campaign that resulted in the purchase of a building to house those entities. He also served eight years on the board of the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center, actively raising money for the organization.