Industry Focus: Attorneys

As the economy improves, Nevada’s law offices are seeing increased growth and competition across the Silver State. Although technology presents new challenges, leaders in the industry expect improvements to continue across the board. Attorneys, leading many of the state’s top law firms, recently met at the Las Vegas office of City National Bank to discuss industry health and issues affecting their practice.

Connie Brennan, CEO and publisher of Nevada Business Magazine, served as moderator for the event. These monthly meetings are designed to bring leaders together to discuss issues relevant to their industries. Following is a condensed version of the roundtable discussion.

HOW HEALTHY IS THE INDUSTRY?

Frank Flansburg: Overall, the industry seems to be healthy. I think that it follows the economy. When people are making a little bit more money, they’re putting more deals together because they’re being bullish on the economy. Also, when they have more money they’re willing to fight over money and fight over deals rather than just abandon them. I think we follow the same trend. You find what your clients need. That’s the nice thing about our profession. We provide a service that adapts and helps counsel clients in their situation no matter what their situation may be.

Jeff Silvestri: [The industry] is stronger. It’s not gangbusters better, but it’s demonstrably better. More people are putting deals together. The corporate side is a lot better. The tax side is better. I think the litigation side is a little bit slow. I don’t think people are fighting with each other as much and that’s because in-house counsel is taking care of it.

Mark Hawkins: I think most of us here are probably looking [to hire] candidates. Even with in-house departments growing, we’re still looking for qualified candidates. I think most of the people in the room would agree that’s indicative of the amount of work that’s still out there that we’re trying to capture.

WHAT IS THE PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF ATTORNEYS?

William Urga: I don’t think [the public’s perception of attorneys] has improved much over the last several decades, until they need you. Then all of a sudden it’s a different story. The same thing that’s true today was true 45 or 50 years ago when I started. Nobody really liked attorneys, but when they have a problem, that’s the first person they call.

Jeff Silvestri: They like their attorney, but they don’t like attorneys.

Michael Feder: A lot of clients know they need us and they’ll call us when they do, but from a general perspective or perception, I agree. I think it hasn’t changed. What I’ve been seeing in the last six months is more people willing to say “no” when they should have said “yes”, or said “yes” when they should have said “no”. I’m sitting there thinking we just had a completely different discussion a week ago and now you’re doing a complete 180 because there’s other people around. They just don’t act ethically. I see that more often than I want to say.

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