Sunday, June 25, 2023 | 2 am
Casey Xavier has always cared about his community – and the positive impact it can have on it.
Xavier said he was elected to the city council in his hometown of Opelousas, Louisiana, when he was 20, while earning his college degree, and during the following year was serving as vice chairman of elected officials for the Louisiana Democratic Party.
Since then, he has worked as a congressional intern in Washington, D.C., in many industries, from technology to insurance.
“But those things I was doing weren’t right for me,” said Xavier, 37. “I kept looking for what I was supposed to do, and I couldn’t find it.” “
It wasn’t until he started working as an account manager for Seattle-based Avvo, a Yelp-like service for the legal profession, that Xavier said he finally realized his passion for the law.
By 2020, Xavier had graduated from UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law, where he had developed an interest in personal injury law and its impact on society.
“I knew I had found what I was meant to do with my life,” said Xavier, who added that although he describes himself as a “southern boy,” Las Vegas was now his “forever” home. “I finally found him…and I was so excited.”
He is now the sole practitioner at his firm, Xavier Injury Law, based in Las Vegas, and says he is the only black, openly gay owner of a personal injury law firm in Nevada.
Xavier says personal injury law is important because it is “the only and best way” to help people who have been hurt, wronged or injured get compensation for their loss. He pointed to cases where the injured are the sole breadwinner for their families and lose their basic income as a reason to seek justice.
“People come to me when they’re hurt — when they’re hurt, and I’m able to help them get medical treatment for that pain, get compensation, and help bring them closer to the situation they were in before. Something was taken from them,” he said. “And I’m not. Not only can I influence them, but I can influence their families as well.”
Since his company is still relatively new, Xavier said it’s young enough to offer customers a unique hands-on experience. Additionally, as the owner of his own law firm, Xavier says he not only gets to help his clients in a “tangible” way, but has the professional and creative freedom to do so as he sees fit.
“I am free to innovate, try new things, think of new ideas, use technology, and bring people a different kind of experience,” he said. “Something they might not be used to.”
Xavier said his experiences as a gay man and as a black man allow him to connect with people in those communities in a unique way as well.
“I think it’s also important to have diversity in careers because you’re able to develop greater synergy when you have diverse experiences and diverse backgrounds,” he said. “Sometimes, you develop greater relationships with people in communities that are different from your own, and about your exposure to them.”
Sarah Ralston, former executive director of the Nevada Health Commission and longtime friend of Xavier’s, said that inclusion and diversity are important in every field, but especially so in legal services — where the communities facing the biggest challenges are often underrepresented.
“He has an opportunity now to provide specialized services that kind of help foster a sense of trust and empathy and understanding from those who feel comfortable being represented by Casey, because he’s been through that experience himself,” Ralston said.
Many people assume that law is neutral or fair, but that’s not always the case, said Stuart Chang, a law professor at UNLV’s Boyd College of Law. He pointed to the disproportionate impact of police brutality on black men, or the ways in which the law has failed to protect members of the LGBTQ community.
“Diverse populations with diverse identities have experienced the law in the United States differently,” Chang said. “It is therefore important that lawyers are able to bring up this perspective, so that they can question whether the law is really neutral – as it is often portrayed.”
Xavier said he wants people who come to his company to never feel condescending, no matter who they are. He also stressed that — although his company is gay and black-owned — it doesn’t just serve those communities.
“We serve people of all denominations, even those who consider themselves to have no community,” he said. “Our job is to represent people with strength and enthusiasm, and give them the compensation they deserve.”
Citing the efforts of UNLV and the Nevada State Bar, Xavier said he is grateful to those who have already done a significant amount of work to diversify the legal profession.
In 2020, Boyd Law School created a course for first-year law students to study the intersection of law with police brutality, unjust legal structures and more, Chang said, about two years before the American Bar Association mandated similar training for all legal professionals. schools.
However, there is still a way to go.
“Because there aren’t many black lawyers in Nevada,” said Xavier. “There aren’t a lot of gay lawyers in Nevada. But members of the community are here. So…being in the position I’m in, showing people that they can do this, is important.
In fact, although diversity in the legal profession has improved dramatically over the past two decades, Chang said it remains one of the least diverse professions — with 81% of lawyers identifying as non-Hispanic white, and more than 61% of them identifying as non-Hispanic white. males. .
More than 11 percent of Las Vegas residents are black, Chang said, but the city has far fewer black lawyers than that. Ultimately, he added, the legal profession does not fully represent its clients.
“In order for us to be able to serve a diverse population — and the increasing diversity of Nevada, as a population — we also have to have a diverse bar, a diverse population of attorneys, to be able to connect with those clients and be able to serve their interests,” Chang said. best interests.”
Ralston said Xavier was a pioneer, breaking down existing barriers for himself and others in the LGBTQ and Black communities.
She said it has the potential to make a positive difference in the lives of many people, and will “undoubtedly empower individuals who have historically felt marginalized in their own way,” ensuring their voices are heard and their rights are protected.
“I think his very presence sends a strong message of encouragement and inspiration to other aspiring lawyers who may have faced similar challenges,” Ralston said. “And that really, to me, shows that they too can aspire to greatness and pursue passions and break down glass ceilings.”
Since opening about eight months ago, Xavier’s law firm has seen tremendous growth and a great deal of success, he said. Moving forward, he hopes to build on this momentum, continue to help people, and ultimately become a leading personal injury firm in Nevada.
He encouraged anyone pursuing their dreams to do so with “ferocious ambition”.
“Here, if you have dreams and drive, you can make it happen in the city,” Xavier said of Las Vegas. “So, if you know you are called to do something special in your life, don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way.”