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Chris Sieroty

Jones Vargas being absorbed by Phoenix law firm

3 July 2012

Jones Vargas, which traces its roots back to 1928 as one of Nevada's oldest law firms, has given up its independence to join Phoenix-based Fennemore Craig.

Perhaps best known for lobbying for clients in legislative and regulatory matters, Jones Vargas found itself with too narrow a range of practices and an economy that has hurt its specialties of real estate and corporate transactions.

All 23 attorneys still with the firm - it peaked at about 60 in the middle of the previous decade - in its Las Vegas and Reno offices will join Fennemore Craig. This will triple Fennemore Craig's presence in Nevada to 36 attorneys. The firm will be known as Fennemore Craig Jones Vargas only in Nevada.

"We have turned down a number of offers [to join other firms] for many years and figured it was about time," Jones Vargas President Joseph W. Brown said.

As a longtime power within the state's Republican party, Brown has filled many government-related positions during his 43-year career. He sits on the powerful Nevada Gaming Commission and helped persuade Brian Sandoval to leave a federal judgeship and run for governor two years ago.

The firm's ranks have also included governors, lieutenant governors and legislators.

Still, Brown said, "We did not have some of the practice areas we needed to remain competitive and attractive to clients."

For example, he said, Jones Vargas did not have an intellectual property section, something Strip resorts and gaming equipment makers prize as they attempt to fend off piracy and maintain an edge on rivals.

Increasingly, he said, major corporate clients would rather work with a short list of full-service firms than a long line of smaller firms.

Further, he noted, the recession had stung the firm. "It has been challenging," he said.

Recently, corporate real estate work has begun to rebound, he said.