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October 24, 2014

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Semi-retired” Boulder City native offers law advice

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Hyun James Kim / Special to the Home News

Ralph Denton poses for a photo in his office inside the Boulder Dam Hotel.

Ralph Denton doesn't think anyone should be scared of lawyers.

He doesn't know a more decent, honorable group of people, he says, and he knows a lot of them.

Denton in July "semi-retired" from nearly six decades practicing law in Las Vegas, and has moved his office from Las Vegas to the second story of the Boulder Dam Hotel to give advice to Boulder City residents.

"People are frightened of lawyers," he said. "They should be put at ease a little. That's what I want to do here."

The Nevada native hopes to assuage some fears the average person has about hiring a lawyer.

While he won't try cases anymore, he can direct anybody to an lawyer appropriate for specific cases.

The best way to get a lawyer is like the best way to get a doctor, Denton said — referrals from friends and family or from somebody who's been around long enough to know where to turn.

Denton came to practice general law in Las Vegas from Elko in 1955, and in 1959 he moved to Boulder City with his wife, Sarah, and three young children.

The couple still live in their first home on Denver Street, the one he crawled through a window to tour while it was vacant 50 years ago.

Denton ran political campaigns — some of his friends and some of his own — defended high and low profile people and actively served the town of Boulder City, drafting the growth control ordinance in place today.

He worked at a variety of small law firms, retiring from Denton and Lopez. "We were the last of the small, general practice law firms," he said, adding that Joseph Lopez is still practicing.

Burt Buy, a friend of Denton's for 43 years, called him a "typical country lawyer."

"He'll be a tremendous resource," Buy said. "He's such a fine attorney, and people can go to him even if it's just for advice on whether or not they should file a suit or an action. He'd be not only a great attorney in town, but a great counselor."

Denton has commuted to his law offices in Las Vegas ever since falling in love with Boulder City when he first arrived. Now at age 83, he won't make the daily drive anymore.

Denton will charge for consultations — maybe $150 or $250, depending on how long he spends with a client — but won't share in the fees of the attorney he recommends, he said. His office hours are from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Sarah Denton, who runs various local committees and keeps Ralph Denton's schedule, said her husband's partial retirement will keep him from becoming a couch potato.

"It's healthier, even if he doesn't do anything but sit down there and have coffee with somebody," she said.

Ralph Denton replied: "She just wants me out of the house."

Cassie Tomlin can be reached at 948-2073 or [email protected].

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