Al Olson
(retired) Vice Chair, McDermott, Will & Emery
Board of Alumni and Friends

Al Olson’s life began when he graduated from University of Michigan law school in 1965 and joined a 64 lawyer, one office law firm in Chicago known for its Federal and state tax practices. His CU-Finance degree provided him immediate benefits as an associate in that professional atmosphere, and contributed to my election as an equity partner at the end of 1974. His business and legal education enabled him to be instrumental in helping to turn the law firm into a 13 office (now 20), 1,200 lawyer firm by the time of my retirement at the end of 2003. Olson’s responsibilities during his legal career included client service and development (of course), but also attorney supervision, training and recruiting, strategic planning, serving as the Office Head of the largest (still) firm office, and acting as a long-time member of our worldwide Management Committee and Executive Committees. In his final years at the firm, he was Its Vice-Chair with a wide range of duties, including growth of our offices and acting as a liaison among Department heads, who ran practice areas, and Office Heads, who managed their particular offices. He also led the team which developed the (still-used) organizational and legal structure for our international presence (now 10 offices outside the U.S.), and personally worked with the Chair in establishing our offices in London, Munich, Düsseldorf, Rome, and Milan. His client practice focused on domestic and international tax planning, including structuring and negotiating domestic and international licenses, joint venture and mergers and acquisitions.

In retirement, he organized and has served as President and Board Chair of a Nonprofit, Tax-Exempt New Mexico corporation whose mission has been to acquire and preserve the last surviving complete home and studio of a Founder and the first President of The Taos Society of Artists. He also serve on the Advisory Board of the Western Art Council of the Palm Springs Art Museum. He was the Vice-Chair for 9 years of C.U.’s Center of the American West, and currently is on C.U. Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Philanthropic activities also include the Olson Family Entrepreneurship Endowment at Leeds.