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No one bothers to fear and loathe Las Vegas anymore. Thanks to a decade-long makeover, the former Sin City now boasts some of the swankest shopping in America, there’s way more to eat than $3.99 prime rib, and the nightlife no longer begins and ends with Wayne Newton. Heck, the place is even family friendly. As befits the country’s fastest-growing metropolitan area, much of Las Vegas’ legal work is connected to construction, banking — and bankruptcy. Compared with 400-associate megafirms in larger cities, Vegas’ biggest shop, Lionel Sawyer & Collins, employs just 85 or so lawyers, and the city’s firm culture is correspondingly sane. Casinos typically rely on outside practices to handle their bigger projects, so don’t bet on in-house jobs there. But if it’s criminal work you seek, you’ve come to the right place; despite all the “New Vegas” improvements, the city is still plenty seedy enough to keep DAs hopping. HOT JOBS Lionel Sawyer & Collins owns the city’s most prestigious client list — casinos, developers, banks, and (of course) the Mormon Church. Schreck Brignone Godfrey, with its state-lobbying expertise, is another high roller in the gaming industry. Jones Vargas and its 58 attorneys serve such hotshot clients as Caesars Palace and Coca-Cola. And Vegas public defenders are some of the best-paid in the country (you try representing a transsexual drunk in an Elvis suit). HOT CLUBS Believe it or not, Las Vegas has incubated a nationally recognized DJ scene. For sweaty dancing with beautiful people, no place beats the Ra nightclub in the Luxor hotel. At the House of Blues’ Foundation Room, a members-only club atop Mandalay Bay, suits and celebs mingle amid trippy folk art. At Rain, in the Palms, the dance floor is ringed by cozy cabanas crying out for canoodling. HOT NEIGHBORHOODS If you’ve got to live in a master-planned community, at least Summerlin offers the killer views of Red Rock Canyon. Its “village” concept incorporates various styles of housing. For real individuality, look downtown, where young lawyers and other professionals are rehabbing funky ’40s and ’50s homes, bringing fresh paint and manicured lawns — not to mention rising property values — to the formerly shabby hood. HOT BARS Las Vegas is so of-the-moment that three trendy watering holes will open and close while you read this sentence. Whiskey Sky, in the Green Valley Ranch Station Casino, is somehow both sophisticated and homey, and opens onto an eight-acre “backyard” with a stylish pool and a great view of the Strip. For the city’s best martinis, try commie-kitsch Red Square, in Mandalay Bay (look for the headless Lenin statue). Tired of trendy and just want cool? Join boho types at the elaborately muraled Double Down Saloon for a shot of Ass Juice (don’t ask). HOT RESTAURANTS Vegas is big on simulation, so it makes sense that some of its top dining spots have been cloned from successful operations in New York (Nobu), L.A. (Piero Selvaggio’s Valentino), and New Orleans (Commander’s Palace). The best local grub: steak at Bellagio’s Prime; the French fare at the Mirage’s Renoir; and just about anything at the MGM Grand’s Nobhill, a current foodies’ fave. HOT SHOPPING Shopping is the new gambling — the latest cool way to drop a bundle in Vegas. Naturally, a little spectacle is involved, whether you’re buying designer clothes at AX Armani and Hugo Boss among the talking statues in the forum shops at Caesars or extravagant shoes at Jimmy Choo beside the ersatz canal in the Venetian. For a more traditional bout of reckless spending, visit the soon-to-be refurbished fashion show mall, home to Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Saks. HOT TICKETS If you were a rock star, would you rather play Detroit (cold, run-down, heartland values) or Vegas (hot, glittery, Al Goldstein values)? No wonder everyone from Springsteen to Snoop Dogg to the Strokes loves to visit the desert. The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel Casino and the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay host the biggest names. Moved by contortionists? You can never go wrong with Cirque du Soleil.

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