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December 20, 2014

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Law firm’s building is the biggest new thing downtown

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Christopher DeVargas

The mock court room at the Robert Eglet Advocacy Center Wednesday, March 19, 2014.

Robert Eglet Advocacy Center

The Robert Eglet Advocacy Center located in downtown Las Vegas Wednesday, March 19, 2014. Launch slideshow »

Tony Hsieh, online shoe-retailer-turned-redeveloper, might be changing downtown’s skyline faster than anyone else, but he certainly isn’t the only one putting his mark on the landscape.

Attorney Robert Eglet got the royal treatment last week during the ribbon cutting of his $18 million Robert T. Eglet Advocacy Center at 400 S. 7th St.

The building — a block east of the George Federal Building and adjacent to Towne Terrace apartments, which is owned by Hsieh’s Downtown Project — is described in a news release as “the largest privately funded building in downtown Las Vegas in the last decade.”

Its features read like a list from a law firm’s episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”: electric-car charging stations in a 75,000-square-foot parking space; a full gym with showers; four conference rooms on each floor; and a mock courtroom on the third floor “built for students at William S. Boyd School of Law to practice and host mock trials.”

Though it has enough chargers for 12 cars, Eglet said, it is wired for 125 vehicles.

The green-energy and water-efficient building, Eglet said, will be retrofitted with non-visible solar panels.

Heading the ribbon-cutting ceremony was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who called Eglet his “longtime friend.”

“This facility will be a wonderful resource for the community, especially to students at the Boyd School of Law,” Reid said in a prepared statement. Eglet is a graduate of the Boyd School of Law.

Eglet’s building isn’t downtown’s first large law office, but its 46,000 square feet of office space more than doubles that in the metal-and-glass building of Craig P. Kenny & Associates at 8th Street and Clark Avenue.

The four-story building’s mock courtroom, Eglet said, is a way to give back to UNLV and the William S. Boyd School of Law. The room “is fully equipped with sound detection cameras connected to the Web so that any class, practice or competition occurring in the courtroom can be accessed by all the students’ and faculty’s mobile devices.”

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, a trial lawyer before becoming district attorney, said the building adds “a new dimension to the downtown legal community.”

“I mean, how may law firms have a full-sized legal courtroom? The legal community as a whole but also residents should be grateful to the Eglets for adding this facility downtown,” Wolfson said.

The top two floors of the building are devoted to Eglet’s firm, another is for parking and another is for other law firms. Attorneys around town have begun talking about the “football field-sized” conference table in one of the third-floor rooms.

The table is not football-field long, but it wouldn’t hurt to use cellphones to communicate between people at either end of it.

Black and white marble floors and original paintings distinguish the interior, with the reception area having the feel of a foyer in Louis XIV’s Versailles Palace.

Such interior design doesn’t come cheap. Eglet, though, has won some significant verdicts over the years.

The firm of Eglet Wall Christiansen has won two half-billion-dollar verdicts since 2010 against companies related to hepatitis outbreaks. One of those verdicts in April 2013 was for $524 million ($500 million punitive damages), which ranked as the fifth-highest in the nation in 2013.

The amount was later dropped to $366 million and the case is on appeal.

Eglet was this year named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the National Trial Lawyers Association. In 2012 and 2005, he was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Nevada Justice Association. And in 2010, he was named National Lawyer of the Year by Lawyers USA.

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