Duerksen opened his office in 1993, practicing general law. As his business has evolved, he now spends 50% of his time on charitable giving, 35% on estate planning and 15% on real estate law.
“I get to work with nice people about how they want to share their blessings.”
For example, one client left $125,000 to a private school.
Duerksen is not involved in litigation, family or criminal law. And don’t expect to find him in a courtroom anytime soon. “Going to court is extremely rare for me. Court is stressful and I like to avoid it,” he said. “If you have to go to court, there was a failure along the way. I want to help people find solutions without involving a judge. If there is any way on earth to solve something, then let’s solve it.”
When Duerksen graduated from the University of Arizona law school, he chose to practice in rural communities because he didn’t want to live in a big city. He started in Nogales and later moved to the Prescott area.
When he opened the Chino Valley office, Nogales in Santa Cruz County and Yavapai County had the same number of judges. Now, Yavapai County has three times as many judges because of the population growth. In just the past six months, Duerksen has opened an office in Prescott Valley and added two young associates.
His small-town approach has allowed him the flexibility to be involved in the community. He is a member of the Chino Valley and Prescott Valley chambers of commerce. He also serves on boards for non-profit organizations, including the Arizona Community Foundation and Arizona Sunshine. Arizona Sunshine has an event each June at the Toyota Center where they provide free medical and dental services for people who otherwise can’t afford them.
Duerksen recalls how Yavapai County Supervisor Craig Brown recruited him to serve on the Yavapai County Board of Health.
This was amusing to Duerksen’s sister, Penny Duerksen-Hughes, because she is in the health field and he is not. She is the associate dean of Loma Linda University School of Medicine.
“You have a lot of learning to do, brother,” she told him at the time, and she sent him a stack of medical books.
The learning was quick, as COVID-19 soon hit, and instead of meeting monthly as the Yavapai County Board of Health was accustomed to, they had to meet far more often to recommend how the county should deal with the pandemic.
Among his many interests, Duerksen is a rockhound. Rocks are the first things clients see as they enter his law office. He used the rocks as a filter during the pandemic, asking visitors to smell them. If they couldn’t smell anything, the meetings would then be done on Zoom, as one of the illness’s symptoms is loss of smell.
Duerksen is also a world-traveling birdwatcher. He taught ornithology at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photographs of birds and nature adorn his law office walls.
Born in Albuquerque, Duerksen was raised in Tucson, where he spent time birding in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness and Santa Rita Mountains.
Before going to law school, he earned his bachelor’s degree with a double major in history and computer science from Southern Adventist University in Tennessee.
Following law school, Duerksen worked as a clerk for a Washington, D.C., law firm, where he helped prepare law briefs for the United States Supreme Court. QCBN
By Stan Bindell, QCBN
For more information, call the Russell Duerksen Law Office, 928-636-1884.
Photo by Stan Bindell: Russell Duerksen says he likes to stay out of courtrooms and rather help clients with estate planning, charitable giving and how they want to share their blessings.