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Technically speaking, attorney is a mom first

By: Doug Snover

Oct 7, 2006

High-school science prodigy. Collegiate pharmacy student and plant-pathology researcher. Undergraduate degrees in communications and English.

Jenae Naumann’s route to the Tempe City Attorney’s office was indeed a circuitous one.

University of Minnesota Law School, followed by a judicial clerkship and a stint as a high-powered litigator. Instructor of paralegals at Phoenix College.

Mother to two young girls who longed for more time with here children.

How Jenae Naumann got to be Tempe’s “technology” attorney isn’t as important as the conclusion – hers – that she has finally found her place.

“I had always wanted to work here,” said Naumann, a long-time Kyrene Corridor resident who works part-time in the Tempe City Attorney’s Office, overseeing the city’s Wi-Fi and telecommunications licenses, software licenses, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, and other “intellectual property.”

On her desk is a file for a project she’s been working on lately – trademarking the city’s slogan, “Tempe: The Smart Place to Be.”

How Naumann, 44, came to be here in Tempe is a tale of a Montana farm girl with surprising versatility.

An award-winning science student in high school, Naumann was recruited to attend the University of North Dakota, where she pursued a pharmacy degree and worked in her spare time as a researcher in plant pathology, cross-breeding plants at a cellular level.

Her family thought a pharmacist’s life would be just fine, but somewhere along the way, she changed course and ended up graduating with twin degrees in Communications and English.

That set her on the path toward a career in journalism, but along the way came law school at the University of Minnesota.

After two years of law school, Naumann came to Arizona where she enrolled at the Arizona State University College of Law as a “visiting” student. She finished her law classes at ASU, got her degree from Minnesota, and set about clerking for a judge here in Arizona.

So, it seemed that a career in the law –not pharmacy and not journalism – would be Naumann’s path. For several years, she worked for a well-known Phoenix law office, participating in complex commercial litigation that had her traveling around the country taking depositions and making courtroom appearances.

It was a challenging, intense career – and she was unhappy in it.

So she made another change, this time leaving her litigation career for a stint in the Scottsdale City Attorney’s Office. That was a better fit. She enjoyed the work, but soon realized that two young daughters were more important than a very good job, so she left Scottsdale.

For a while, she taught night classes at Phoenix College, teaching paralegals the ins and outs of legal research and estate planning/probate.

But when a full-time teaching position opened up, Naumann turned away.

Instead, she created the Naumann Law Office and went to work out of her home.

Soon after, Tempe came calling and Naumann finally reached “The Smart Place to Be.”

Naumann recently was elected to the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division Council of the American Bar Association for a three-year term. The GPSLD advocates for public sector and government lawyers, and promotes fairness and excellence within the U.S. legal system.

“My election to the GPSLD Council, coupled with my position as this year’s Chair of the E-Commerce & Technology Section of the State Bar of Arizona, gives me the opportunity to highlight Tempe’s high interest in technology, and the rapid development of the southeast Valley as a leader in this area,” Naumann said.

“I want to focus more national attention on what Tempe has to offer, and perhaps try to bring the GPSLD’s fall meeting here in the future.”

Naumann is the picture of contentment in her office, with technology magazines like eWeek, Last Mile, and NATOA on her desk. It’s been a long journey from Montana but she is happy to be here.

What about scientific research?

“Working in the lab is actually lonely,” Naumann reports.

The courtroom?

“I realized that while I am an assertive person and a competitive person, I was not confrontational,” she explains. “Litigation is disguised warfare.”

“What I like about my job now it that it is productive,” Naumann said. “I feel like at the end of the day I’ve accomplished something.”

“I have an opportunity to try to prevent problems,” she said. “If it prevents problems the city doesn’t get sued. If the city doesn’t get sued, it doesn’t cost the taxpayers.”

“At the end of the day, I feel good about having helped the (Information technology) Department by either solving a problem or preventing a problem.”

With time left over to raise her daughters.



Photo by David Stone


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