Frank Placenti í79: A Ray of Sunshine in His Community
Frank Placenti, an Ohio native, moved to Arizona after graduating from Ohio State with both his undergraduate and law degrees. While the fantastic weather and involvement in a burgeoning economy originally drew him to Phoenix, he’s spent the last 28 years anchoring himself and his family in the community by championing local organizations and ventures. “I didn’t know a soul when I moved to Phoenix,” he explained, “but the people have been very good to me and I have tried to return the favor. There was a time when lawyers were expected to be leaders in their communities, and I still believe that’s the right answer.”
“You never have to scrape sunshine off your windshield,” said Placenti, explaining why he moved to Arizona, where he has resided for almost 30 years. During a round of interviews with East Coast firms at the onset of winter, Frank received an invitation to join an upstart Phoenix firm with 18 lawyers that eventually grew to 160 lawyers in four cities. The opportunity and brightness of Arizona beckoned him and though Frank initially “figured I would try it for a few years and then move back East,” he is happily still living with his family in Paradise Valley, a suburb of Phoenix.
Frank earned his undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University, where he studied marketing and communications. He dabbled in sales for a short while after graduation, but then realized that he wanted to harness his skills in a different way, and he began his legal studies at OSU. Frank was a distinguished member of the law school community, garnering membership to the Order of the Coif and the Ohio State Law Journal.
Although Frank originally focused on litigation, he currently specializes in mergers and acquisitions as a partner at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. Frank explains that his practice, which also deals extensively with corporate governance, is a combination of “law, business, human nature, (and) politics. . . . It’s (about) understand(ing) who you represent (and their) needs, (while) focusing on what’s achievable given the needs of the other side.” He finds navigating boardroom dynamics a welcome challenge because the room is filled with competent, intelligent people who are trying to craft a winning solution for their company. His main focus is “creating opportunities and [fostering] agreements” so that the parties can move forward and ultimately build something together.
Throughout his career, Frank has been tapped by high profile companies, including Ben & Jerry’s. Frank served as special counsel to the Board of this ice cream giant, and “eventually helped the company in its sale to Unilever.” His work allowed him to spend time with the legendary Vermonters and learn more about their confections and devotion to their community, which served as the heart of their company.
Frank shares a similar spirit for his town, where he lives with his wife, Tobi, and their two children, Michael, 7, and Isabella, 5. “Phoenix has been very good to me,” he said, “and I feel an obligation to give something back.” To that end, he chairs the Board of Directors at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation, and has chaired the Board of Directors of both the local Boys & Girls Club chapter organization and the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. Frank also represented 13 of the original Arizona Diamondbacks owners who financed the franchise formation.
“I like to spend my days working with people, which is why I built my practice (this way) and why I live my life the way I do,” Frank explained. He encourages everyone to do the same — to “figure out what it is you want to do, and then do it.”