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Editor’s note: The following is the fifth and final excerpt from “Hit the Jackpot,” Small Firm Business ‘ inaugural issue cover story, which profiles several law firms with creative, innovative marketing campaigns. These days, it doesn’t seem that anyone is leaving Las Vegas. As many as 6,000 people are moving into the Las Vegas metropolitan area every month. Bolstered by its weekly television postcard called “CSI” and the rising hip factor of poker, Sin City is clearly en vogue. But Vegas’ exploding growth (Clark County’s population has climbed by almost 80 percent to 1.6 million over the last decade) hasn’t translated into a total boom for the city’s lawyers. “The market is expanding in some areas, but it’s contracting in others,” says Elliott Eisner, a partner with Kolesar & Leatham. Surprisingly, one source of work that isn’t growing for most Vegas law firms is the city’s signature casinos and hotels, which have developed large in-house legal departments. K&L does some real property work for those clients, but “they make it known quite clearly that they want to do most of their work in-house,” says Eisner. In contrast to their surroundings, slow and steady is the firm’s mantra for growth and marketing. Located about one mile west of the Vegas Strip, its 16 lawyers practice in a contemporary, red tile roofed, low rise building accented by palm trees. The firm started with just three lawyers back in 1986, but has grown to several times that number since then. K&L offers services in banking, bankruptcy, real property, business/corporate, tax, and estate planning services, as well as commercial and tax litigation. Clients include the Weingarten Realty Investors; Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp.; and Marriott International Inc. Over the years, the firm’s marketing strategy has remained rather informal. “The method we use here probably wouldn’t work in a large city,” says managing partner Robert Kolesar. “The growth of this market is forgiving. You can compete without having to steal market share from your competitors.” One ace in the hole: Like many Nevadans, Kolesar & Leatham’s partners aren’t natives, and that fact has proven to be a marketing asset. “We have connections throughout the country and are able to develop work through partners at other firms who need Las Vegas representation of one degree or another,” says Kolesar. One example is how the firm came to represent tennis professional Andre Agassi’s real estate interests. In the late 1960s, Kolesar worked at real estate developer Forest City Enterprises Inc., in Cleveland. Years later Kolesar happened to run into a former co-worker during a trip to Los Angeles, and learned that Forest City was doing business out west. The chance meeting led to K&L working with Forest City when it built the Galleria mall in nearby Henderson, Nev. As it happened, Cleveland’s Jones Day was also involved in the project. Growing ties between the two firms ultimately led to a referral that connected K&L with Vegas’ homegrown celebrity Agassi. The firm continues to represent Agassi with respect to his real estate interests. On its home front, the firm pursues a well chartered marketing strategy. It cultivates relationships with smaller firms with complementary practices, as a source of mutual referrals. K&L also maintains a high profile in support of select charitable events, such as the Nevada Ballet Theatre’s annual Black & White Ball. Often these activities may not have immediate, tangible results, but the firm believes they are worth the investment. “If we spend $10,000 on a table at a charity event, I can’t tell you when a case came in from that event, but I can tell you that over a time period of years it has been successful,” says Kolesar. Fundamentally, getting that new client requires a long term investment with an indefinite payoff. “I can’t meet someone, call them three times and have a client,” says Eisner. “It’s not until their lawyer stumbles that they’ll look for somebody to pick up the gap. That’s why service is so important. We’re a service industry, too many people forget it.”
Read the previous segment of this story: Bringing in More Business by Tapping Existing Clients

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