United States: Q&A With Joel Henriod, Las Vegas Office Managing Partner Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie

  1. Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie has grown to become one of Nevada's largest law firms since it first opened a Las Vegas office in 1999. Can you discuss what has led to the firm's steady and ongoing growth?

Simple, we love our clients. Like any other area of life, you fight hard and win for those you love. You also answer the phone when clients call. Unfortunately, this is something that can be rare in our profession.

To achieve victory for clients we're constantly looking to add excellent attorneys. First, we want to have an expert available for your case, no matter what it is. The law is complex, so, it's very difficult for a "jack of all trades, master of none" to achieve great results. Each of our partners is truly excellent with specialized experience in at least one area—be it real estate, litigation, appeals, gaming, intellectual property, labor and employment, or sports and entertainment, etc. And we only hire associates who prove themselves to be on a similar trajectory.

Second, assembling lawyers with expertise also enables a firm to provide winning teams in larger cases. Like a great football team, it's not enough that the 11 players on the field are good athletes generically. You want the best quarterback, the best wide receiver, the best running back and winning a big trial is no different.

Third, we like to offer our clients the simplicity and peace of mind that comes with a trusted one-stop shop. Most people, normal people, want to deal with as few lawyers as possible. So when one of our lawyers earns your trust on a first matter, our hope is to earn your trust in the firm to solve your other problems too. We coordinate the roles of different specialists for our clients to leverage efficiency. So you get more for less.

Finally, it's easier to grow when cohesive units of attorneys join our firm. Our Vegas office started with a core group of lawyers who had been with Ashcraft & Heinz. Many of our lawyers came in practice groups from Lionel Sawyer & Collins. I joined the firm when it combined with Beckley Singleton.

  1. It's very impressive that Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie lawyers have served as lead counsel in ten U.S. Supreme Court cases! Can you share highlights about the firm's appellate practice?

The passion for an excellent appellate practice runs deep. Personally, I live and breathe it. In fact, I moved to Las Vegas 15 years ago to work with Nevada's preeminent appellate attorney, Dan Polsenberg. I would estimate he's handled at least 600 appeals in the state and federal appellate courts, and the appeals from the largest judgments in Nevada history. Although, the legacy didn't start with Polsenberg. He worked for years with the legendary Nevada attorney Rex Jemison.

Since joining Dan in 2003, we have already done about 150 appeals together. This passion and legacy runs through our other offices, as well. In Phoenix, over fifty years ago, partners John P. Frank and John Flynn handled the Miranda v. Arizona case, giving rise to "Miranda Rights." You know, "you have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be held against you, etc." Since then, we've been a premier firm for representation on an appeal. And we constantly hire young attorneys with that passion. Many of our great appellate attorneys have gone on to become justices on state Supreme Courts, judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals or, in Janet Napolitano's case, Governor of the State of Arizona.

  1. Are there any other significant cases your firm has won that you would like to highlight?

I'd direct you to Google on that one. We treat client confidentiality as sacred.

  1. Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie's many practices include its gaming practice. It seems like the gaming industry is constantly evolving – what are some of the top trends your firm is seeing in gaming law, especially that might affect Las Vegas?

A couple of the most notable trends in gaming law are the legalization of sports betting and the proliferation of eSports. With the eSports industry expected to cross the billion dollar threshold in 2019, with revenues projected to hit $1.1 billion, Nevada has made an aggressive push toward eSports, including the Luxor opening the first permanent eSports venue on the Strip. This burgeoning relationship between skill-based eSports and traditional gambling will be intriguing for the coming years.

Equally important to Las Vegas is the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This decision clears the way for individual states to decide whether or not to legalize sports wagering, while eliminating Las Vegas' effective monopoly on sports betting. The decision also creates numerous opportunities, now putting the spotlight on the sports betting expertise in Las Vegas. Thus risk management hubs in Las Vegas can expect an increase in sports betting partnerships with leagues and teams. Colleagues Karl Rutledge and Glenn Light are leading the way in Nevada interactive gaming law as trusted advisors for some of the biggest gaming entities in Nevada and throughout the world. Their specialized regulatory knowledge helps our clients navigate promotional marketing and internet and land-based gaming with a particular emphasis on eSports, skill-based contests, sweepstakes, official rules and sports betting.

  1. Are there any other major legal trends your firm is seeing these days in its other practices? For instance, is the firm seeing more cases in its Labor and Employment practice, with the increasing societal focus on this topic of late?

Oh, definitely. For instance, take data protection and cybersecurity. As we store more and more information in the digital realm – including financial information, health care data, retail client information, trade secrets and other intellectual property, company know-how, and the like – our networks become greater targets for thieves, competitors and hackers. In addition to external threats, data breaches are often the result of insiders acting either innocently or maliciously. Regardless of the nature of a breach, without proper planning, the effects can be devastating, subjecting victims to regulatory penalties, litigation and severe reputational harm.

We've developed a data protection and cybersecurity practice, which deploys a law-led approach in partnership with highly skilled technical support to address security threats and data breaches. Unlike other firms who can only offer a one-dimensional approach, we are able to provide a comprehensive approach through a strategic alliance with eosedge Legal. They focus on risk assessment, analysis and strategic advisory counsel. Combining our legal expertise with their technical analysis gives our clients the added protection of confidentiality and privilege to further mitigate risk that a solely technical approach cannot provide.

The cyber risk landscape is challenging and ever-expanding. Together, eosedge Legal and Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie work as a team to provide clients with elevated data protection and cybersecurity strategies and full-scope solutions. I love that we can offer that service. It's huge.

  1. Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie engages in significant community support, including offering pro bono programs and supporting community nonprofits like The Smith Center. Why is community service a priority for your law firm, even in the midst of such a busy practice?

We're true believers. I don't mean to sound like a boy scout. But, really, the people who make up the firm—the lawyers, paralegals, secretaries, runners, etc.—believe deeply in the virtue of citizenship. Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie has a longstanding tradition of handling pro bono matters for people with financial need, promoting legal representation and donating significant resources to ensuring justice for the indigent. We especially like to collaborate with other attorneys from other firms and legal aid societies, such as the Volunteer Lawyers Program. As part of this program, Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie attorneys staff a walk-in clinic twenty-five days per year.

To be honest, the cases we do for free often are the most interesting and rewarding, like that Miranda case back in 1966. Most recently we've handled a few cases in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals involving a Jewish prisoner's constitutional right to a kosher diet, defendants sentenced to the death penalty, and aliens seeking political asylum. Our partner, Susan Freeman, recently handled a pro bono case in the United States Supreme Court ensuring that small, family farmers have the same bankruptcy reorganization rights as large conglomerates. And I'm really proud of the cases we take on behalf of veterans.

  1. Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie helps present the best of Broadway productions to Southern Nevada audiences, as a sponsor of The Smith Center's Broadway Las Vegas Series. Why did your firm feel this was important to support?

Because seeing a play is fun! That's a worthwhile end in itself. And, here again, we're true believers. Strong communities provide enjoyment of art. Arts uplift the soul. And that uplift inspires people to be better citizens, especially when they enjoy the arts in congregation with others.

Why the Broadway Series, in particular? Thomas Morton said "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." That is true about plays more than any other artistic medium.

  1. Are you and other Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie staff members fans of Broadway shows yourselves? If so, what are some of your favorite Broadway hits that have come to The Smith Center, and why?

Yes, for those reasons I've mentioned. I can't list all of the shows my friends and I have enjoyed, there are too many. I had a great time watching The Book of Mormon. I must say, as an adherent of that religion myself, I did find it sacrilegious. The snappiest tune was downright blasphemous, albeit profound. But I think the most cathartic laughter we can have is laughter at ourselves.

  1. How do you think The Smith Center has impacted Southern Nevada since it opened in 2012?

Las Vegas could be considered the entertainment capital of the US and possibly the world. The nightlife, entertainment and dining experience now is coupled with the opportunity to explore the beauty of the arts through dance and theatre at The Smith Center. The Smith Center has provided the opportunity for residents of Las Vegas, Henderson county and surrounding communities to enjoy the culture of a world-class city.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Viva Las Vegas. And, go Knights!

Originally published in The Smith Center

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