Hon. Scott Bales

Former Chief Justice, Arizona Supreme Court

Scott Bales served on the Arizona Supreme Court for fourteen years, including as Chief Justice from July 2014 until July 2019.  After retiring from the Court, he was the Executive Director of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver through July 2020.  He now consults on appellate matters and internal investigations and serves as a neutral. 

He is the immediate past Chair of the Council of the ABA’s Section on Legal Education and serves on the Council of the American Law Institute and the Board of Trustees for the National Conference of Bar Examiners.  He previously chaired the Appellate Judges Conference of the ABA’s Judicial Division.  Justice Bales has often taught courses at the law schools at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. 

Before his appointment to the Court, he had practiced law in Arizona for nearly 20 years as a private and public lawyer.  He was a partner in Phoenix firms that later became Osborn Maledon P.A. and Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie.  He also served as Arizona’s Solicitor General from 1999-2001 and as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Policy Development from 1998-1999, a Special Investigative Counsel for the Justice Department’s Inspector General from 1995-97, and as a federal prosecutor.

He clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Joseph T. Sneed III on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  After graduating from Michigan State University with degrees in history and economics, he received a master’s degree in economics and his law degree from Harvard.


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