It is an exciting time to be living in and practicing law in Nevada

A Conversation On Leadership & Life In The Law With Attorney Scott Cooper

Raised in Reno, Nevada, attorney Scott Cooper is an associate in our Las Vegas office who works in our Government Relations & Regulatory practice group.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Scott about lessons learned and his life in the legal profession in recognition of Nevada Day.

With offices in Las Vegas and Reno, Fennemore proudly celebrates Nevada Day – commemorating the admission of the state into the union on October 31, 1864! So, in this week’s leadership profile, we turn the spotlight on attorney Scott Cooper in our Las Vegas office who has deep ties to the Silver State. Talk about your upbringing in Reno – and what’s it like now being an up-and-coming attorney in Nevada?

I was extremely fortunate to have grown up in an amazing place like Reno.  Reno definitely lives up to it motto of the biggest little city. This allowed me to develop personal and professional relationships that I have maintained to this day.    

I am so thankful to have grown up in a place that allowed me to explore some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the word, rock climb, hike, and most importantly, ski.  At two-years-old, my dad had me up in the mountains skiing in between his legs. Little did he know, that started what would be a huge part of my life for 18 years. Reno’s proximity to the mountains allowed me to develop and pursue a career in alpine ski racing that took me around the world and carried me though college. 

Growing up in a place like Reno, and Nevada generally, it can be easy to take the amazing things these places offer for granted. It wasn’t until I went off to college in New Hampshire that I could really look back and see how great our state really is. Once I graduated from college I decided to go to law school in a part of the state that I had barely even seen growing up. When I moved to Las Vegas for law school it was probably only my fifth time I had been there.

Anyone who has spent much time in Nevada has probably witnessed the Reno and Las Vegas rivalry. Having grown up in Reno and not knowing Las Vegas well, I expected to finish my three years of law school, get out of Las Vegas as fast as I could, and move back to Reno after graduation. This plan was going great until I realized that I really liked Las Vegas.    

It is an exciting time to be living in and practicing law in Nevada. As the state continues to grow, new and exciting industries and opportunities are popping up across the state.  Whether it is with tech companies coming into Nevada from California, the growth of the cannabis industry, or the evolution of the entertainment and tourism industry, there is something for everyone in Nevada.    

Your practice has also included work in the rapidly-evolving Cannabis sector. What are the short-term and long-term opportunities for attorneys in this industry, especially with the recent pardon granted to all people convicted of simple possession under federal law?

Just like any other developing sector, there are great opportunities for growth for people willing to learn a new and rapidly changing industry. With the recent pardon granted at the federal level, I would not be surprised to see public opinion on cannabis warming across the country. This means more states legalizing recreational cannabis, and potentially some additional changes at the federal level further down the road. 

Right now, Nevada is experiencing more growth in the cannabis sector with the implementation of cannabis consumption lounges in the state. Soon residents and tourists will be able to purchase cannabis in a bar like setting, further expanding Nevada’s cannabis tourism sector. 

Who is your hero – or the person who has had the greatest impact on your life and career?

That one is easy, my parents. Everything I have accomplished I can attribute to them.  They provided me with unbelievable opportunities to pursue my dreams growing up, while instilling the value of hard work, and the importance of developing and maintaining relationships.   

Talk about your biggest failure. What did you learn? And how did you pick up the pieces and move forward?

My first semester of law school. While obviously not a complete failure, as I didn’t actually fail a class, it was a time when I fell severely short of expectations that I had for myself, and learned some very valuable lessons along the way. During my first semester of law school I had this belief that law school was this unique and crazy difficult thing that required me to change how I did everything. My first semester I changed how I had always taken notes, studied, etc., and at the end of the semester I did not perform nearly as well as I would have hoped.  For me, this was really disappointing because I thought that I had put in all of this work and done everything right. 

Eventually, I had to get over it and figure out a way to improve. That was when I realized that the full overhaul I had done on how I lived my life might have been the issue. Going forward I decided to go back to my pre-law school approach to studying and balancing my time with little adjustments. Every semester after that I performed better, was happier, and was able to genuinely enjoy what I was doing. 

From this I learned to trust what has gotten me this far. I have yet to encounter a situation in life that requires a wholesale change or that I am entirely unprepared for.  This perspective has helped me adjust to new situations, jobs, and experiences and I can thank my first semester “freak out” for that.    

What’s the best – and worst – piece of career advice that you’ve ever received?

The best piece of career advice I have received is to ask questions. I never truly appreciated this piece of advice until I began law school. In the legal profession you are constantly surrounded by some of the most intelligent and influential people in their respective fields, and it is impossible to learn anything from them unless you take the time to ask them about it. In my experience, the vast majority of people are excited to talk about what they do and how they do it. I have found this to be one of the most valuable ways to learn about the practice of law and how to be a better attorney.    

While not exactly advice, I realized that doing what somebody else thinks is the best for you is no way to find a fulfilling career.     

What are you currently listening to (podcast or music); reading; and watching/streaming?

Currently, I have been reading the Dune series by Frank Herbert. The sci-fi world-building novels have been a great way to release from work and decompress. Also, following my recent trip to Rome, I have been listing to the Hardcore History series Death Throes of the Republic to put more context to a lot of the historical sites I was able to visit over there.

Last, but not least, you and your fiancé are hosting a lavish dinner at your home. Name the three people – from any time in human history – who you’d invite.

Robin Williams, Jerry Rice, and Keith Richards.

On behalf of Scott, and all of our Nevada-based attorneys, happy Nevada Day!

For information on how we can help your business in Las Vegas, please visit:

And for business assistance in Reno, please click here: