Richard C. Underwood

Ryan Rapp & Underwood PortraitsPractice Areas

Case Highlights and Depth of Experience

Rick has spent the past 30 years working in various areas of tax law and employee benefits law.   He spent many years advising employers with regard to retirement plans, stock benefits and executive compensation.  He has represented employers in front of the IRS with respect to the qualification of retirement plans and in the correction process.  In recent years, Rick has focused his practice in consultation with family law lawyers and parties regarding the settlement and division of qualified retirement benefits, non-qualified retirement benefits and stock benefits.

Rick completed his undergraduate education at the University of Minnesota in 1971, majoring in English and minoring in Mathematics and Political Science.   He became a member of Phi Beta Kappa as a graduate of the University of Minnesota.  In 1976, Rick completed his legal education at Arizona State University, earning a juris doctor degree.  He clerked with Arizona Supreme Court Judge Fred Struckmeyer during the 1976-77 year.  After several years engaged in a general practice with a Phoenix firm, Rick attended New York University where he earned a Masters in Tax Law (LLM).  Rick married his current spouse of 32 years in 1980, with whom he has had 8 children.  In 1981, Rick joined the Phoenix firm of Snell & Wilmer in its tax department, practicing primarily with the employee benefits group.  In 1987, he joined the Phoenix firm of Streich Lang (now Quarles & Brady), becoming an equity partner in 1989.  In 1992, Rick joined his wife in a legal practice known as Underwood & Moore.  In 1987, Rick joined his current firm, Ryan Rapp & Underwood (then known as Walker & Ellsworth), practicing in tax, employee benefits and estate planning.

Get To Know Rick in His Own Words

“I have always been a problem solver, helping individuals and businesses reach their goals by navigating the rocky shoals of the Internal Revenue Code, ERISA and other federal laws.  I have continued this approach in my tax consultation practice in the family law arena – helping family law practitioners reach fair settlements that meet their clients’ goals and at the same time comply with the complex tax and employee benefit laws.”

Professional Experience/Affiliations

  • Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Member, ABA Employee Benefits Committee (from 1987 to 2008)
  • Certified Tax Law Specialist designation of the State Bar of Arizona
  • Listed in Southwest Super Lawyers as top tax lawyer in the region for several years running
  • Extensive lecturer in programs sponsored by State and local bar associations, and other seminar organizations on the topic of tax and employee benefit issues in divorces and estate planning
  • Member, Phi Beta Kappa
  • Clerk, Arizona Supreme Court, Judge Struckmeyer (1976-77)


  • B.A. University of Minnesota (1971)
  • J.D. Arizona State University School of Law (1976)
  • LLM (Tax) New York University (1981)

Bar Admissions

  • Federal and State Courts of Arizona


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