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Competent Las Vegas lawyers cringe at attorney general candidate Adam Laxalt’s performance review

Leaked information can be so troublesome, and not just for the National Security Administration. While a leaked performance review for an attorney general candidate in Nevada may not exactly be commensurate with Edward Snowden’s bold actions in terms of patriotism or traitorhood (depending on how you see Snowden), they’re causing trouble enough for the lawyer that his leaked performance review could be a major roadblock to his career. Adam Laxalt, Republican attorney general hopeful, has somewhat of a mottled past, according to the leaked documents, says this Las Vegas Review-Journal article, but there’s more to his abilities than can be wrapped up in the unflattering description of his work as a “train wreck.” At least, that what some other Nevada lawyers are rushing in to the rescue to report.

Laxalt’s former law firm rushed in to his defense last week, issuing a public statement about how the leaked performance review in which Laxalt was sanctioned for inadequate legal writing skills and general work quality, as well as lack of “the basic skill set” needed for Nevada lawyers was never meant for public viewing, “and indeed, many portions of internal lawyer reviews are not shared with or known to the person being reviewed.” It’s unclear whether Laxalt himself knew at the time that the Lewis and Roca Associate Evaluation and Compensation Committee notes called his work “sloppy” and recommended “a freeze in salary, deferral, and possible termination.”

The performance review was originally leaked to Joe Ralston, writer of a political blog and host of a television show, who reported that he had authenticated the leaked document. But Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP has since formally insisted that Laxalt is “a capable and talented attorney who serves his clients well,” adding that they would be investigating the serious “security breach” from whence the performance review was leaked to Ralston. But Nevada lawyers like Robert Ryan and others who practice in multiple areas from criminal defense to real estate law, international law, securities, and business litigation are more familiar with both the constituent parts of performance reviews and their potential significance on an attorney’s capacity to practice with integrity and poise.

The Review-Journal confirms what competent Nevada lawyers are already thinking: “the leak of the highly critical review is likely to harm Laxalt’s bid against Ross Miller, his more well-known Democratic opponent and the current secretary of state.” Undaunted, however, Laxalt has issued a public statement dismissing the attack on his reputation as political maneuvering and reiterated that he is “stronger than the pettiness” of the attempted undermining of his professional character. Still, attorneys and politicians across the state are all too aware that Lewis and Roca may have been defending Laxalt in a move to protect itself against any liability, too.

While Laxalt had already been considered the underdog in the Nov. 4 election, this most recent take on his ability to represent the entire state of Nevada as its legal counsel isn’t exactly encouraging for voters. It should be noted that Laxalt’s old firm has specified that it has remained neutral in the race, officially, though some partners back Miller while others back Laxalt. Let the voters decide!

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