A Renaissance Woman in the Legal Field
By Debbie Hall
Tracy A. Gallegos, an associate in the national law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP, has a multifaceted practice that includes corporate, real estate, sports and entertainment law for clients ranging from start-up companies to established businesses. In the realm of real estate law, Gallegos represents both commercial and residential developers and she serves as general counsel for community association management companies and homeowners’ associations, advising clients on real estate issues pertaining to common-interest communities. Gallegos also works with medical marijuana dispensaries as well as individuals and companies involved in the promotions and management aspects of the nightlife industry.
One person really inspired Gallegos to choose law as a career and that was her father. “I have very old school Filipino parents and in that culture, children are encouraged to become involved in the medical field, or a field otherwise involving science or math. Up until the age of 9, I felt I had to do well in school to become a doctor so that my parents would be proud of me. Then I realized I don’t like science or math and had no desire to become a doctor. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life; I just knew I didn’t want to be a doctor or do anything else involving numbers or science,” she explained. “Then, when I was 13, my dad and I were arguing about something and he told me that I should become a lawyer since I was good at arguing.”
She admitted that she was intrigued by the idea of becoming a lawyer and, while attending college at the University of California at Davis, Gallegos took some pre-law classes, including a legal writing class, to determine whether she really wanted to pursue a career in the legal field. After obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science in just three years, Gallegos decided to continue her education. After a short break, Gallegos began law school at Drake University Law School in 2001. During law school, Gallegos was a student attorney for the school’s legal clinic, where she provided legal services to indigent clients involved in civil matters. She also served as president of the school’s Asian Pacific American Law Student Association and vice-president of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society.
A Navy brat, Gallegos moved frequently until her family settled in the San Francisco Bay Area when Gallegos was seven years old. After graduating law school in 2004, Gallegos moved to Las Vegas at the urging of one of her professors in law school who believed Southern Nevada was a great place for Gallegos to begin her career. “He was right,” she said, “Las Vegas has been the best move for me professionally.”
Along with being her inspiration, Gallegos looked to her parents to mentor her. “They always taught me to be independent, which is why it was so important for me to find a profession that would allow me to take care of myself. They have been 150 percent supportive of everything I have done.” She observed her parents, who immigrated to the United States from the Philippines, work very hard so that their children could have every advantage possible.
Licensed to practice in Nevada and California, Gallegos considers herself a business attorney; in 2013 and in the first quarter of 2014, the majority of her work was centered on real estate and corporate financing transactions.
For a two year span, Gallegos concentrated her practice in the corporate area, working with medical marijuana dispensaries, particularly due to the new legislation that was being passed in the various cities in California. “That was fun,” she laughed, “and it appears that it is picking up again since I am beginning to receive phone calls about that area of especially with new legislation, becoming effective in Nevada on January 1.” Although Gallegos enjoys handling real estate and corporate transactions, her goal for the remainder of 2014 is to expand her entertainment and sports law practices.
According to Gallegos, working at Fox Rothschild is a great fit for her practice areas since it has 19 offices in the United States with nearly 600 lawyers. “There are so many experienced and talented attorneys it’s amazing. We have attorneys who’ve worked for government agencies, have been in-house counsel at huge companies and have worked at some of the country’s most prestigious law firms. As an attorney who has been practicing for about 10 years, there’s still a lot for me to learn. Fox is a great place to continue growing and I feel like I’ve already learned so much in the time that I’ve been here. Aside from the learning experience, being at a firm with a national platform allows me to bring in bigger transactions because I can put together a team who has the experience to handle the transaction. This is something that might not be available at a smaller firm.”
For example, Gallegos has a private equity firm as a client, which requires a variety of legal services. While Gallegos handles the corporate and real estate matters for the client, the client anticipates that it will require legal services in other areas, such as securities compliance, labor and employment, international trade and banking law. “Since Fox has so many offices and attorneys who focus in those practice areas, the client won’t be required to find another firm to handle these additional needs. The client feels comfortable that Fox has the capability to provide all the services it requires and that these services will be provided by attorneys who are regarded as leaders in their practice areas.”
Recently, Gallegos worked on a multi-million-dollar transaction in which significant licensing hurdles arose merely one week prior to the scheduled close of escrow. “Our client purchased all of the assets of another entity located in Las Vegas,” she explained. “We learned that the seller, who was a residential home builder, had numerous subdivision exemptions under NRS Chapter 119. Under that statute, a developer must either obtain a license or an exemption from the provisions of NRS Chapter 119 before it engages in the sale of a subdivision or any lot, unit, or parcel in that subdivision. The exemptions held by the seller could not be transferred to our client; new exemptions had to be obtained that generally require a minimum of 30 days to process. The timing posed a problem for our client because it had a homebuyer closing occurring merely one day after the big transaction was set to close, and numerous other homebuyer closings scheduled throughout April. Without the requisite exemptions, our client wouldn’t be able to proceed with the scheduled homebuyer closings.”
Gallegos admits that there initially did not appear to be a solution to this seemingly hopeless situation. But with the team effort of the attorneys Fox Rothschild, led by Gallegos, a few calls were made to the governor of the state of Nevada and his chief of staff, who then coordinated with the Nevada Real Estate Division to resolve the matter. “It was a tremendous effort on the part of everyone involved. At the end of the day, the client was happy and that’s the most important thing.”
Professionally, a mentor in Las Vegas for Gallegos is Angela Rock. Gallegos was just beginning her legal career in 2004 and Rock guided and worked with her. “She taught me so much about residential real estate and HOA work. She shared so much with me that you don’t learn in law school, such as how to speak to clients, how to present yourself, how to attend meetings and how to deal with difficult clients. You only learn this when actually practicing law and she made certain I learned.”
Another professional mentor for Gallegos is Brett A. Axelrod, the managing partner of Fox Rothschild’s Las Vegas office, and co-chair of the firm’s Financial Restructuring and Bankruptcy Department. Axelrod always emphasizes that every attorney should maintain their own book of business to increase their value as an attorney. In order to be successful and become a partner, attorneys simply can’t show up and do the work asked of them without taking any initiative. Axelrod is Gallegos’s official mentor at the firm and Axelrod has encouraged Gallegos to continue to grow her book of business since Gallegos joined Fox Rothschild. Along with introducing Gallegos to some of her contacts, Axelrod encourages Gallegos to participate in speaking engagements, write articles and attend various networking events whether in Las Vegas or out of state, in order to grow all of Gallegos’ practice areas.
“I have never had boss that who was so supportive of me and my individual success,” Gallegos said, “I don’t think anything makes Brett happier than seeing her associates succeed, and, and she’ll do whatever she can to contribute to our success. We’re like her children and she loves to watch us grow up.”
As for the portrayal of attorneys on television, Gallegos stated, “It is very entertaining but most of what is seen is very far from the truth. A lot of people probably go into the legal field based on the misconceptions about attorneys the way pop culture presents them.”
Gallegos advises other women entering the field of law to understand that, “unfortunately it is still a male-dominated profession. You should find another female attorney who can be your mentor because she will be your biggest ally. I believe the Las Vegas the legal community is a little smaller than other cities, and it is not uncommon that I am the only female attorney involved in a litigation matter or business transaction.”
With her varied practice, Gallegos admitted that while attending law school, she thought after graduation she “would change the world.” Gallegos believes that she can change the practice of law by truly being a full-service attorney who “thinks outside of the box.”
Gallegos explained, “My focus is building my book of business in all of my practice areas but I want to build it the right way. “ Her philosophy as an attorney is to not only provide a legal service, but to treat the client or prospective client as a business partner. Her goal is to build a relationship with each client, identify her other clients, business, contacts, and other resources that might be able to assist a client. “We really do become business partners so when the client has a need for legal services or needs to refer someone who requires legal services, the client doesn’t think of anyone else but me. I think this is how the legal profession should be handled, not just ‘pay me my high hourly rate but ‘let’s create long-term partnerships for a mutually successful return.’”
A big part of Gallegos’ business development efforts includes presenting seminars and other speaking engagements on her various practice areas. “I usually provide seminars for organizations such as the different bar associations in of which I’m a member or organizations such as the National Business Institute.” Gallegos generally provides seminars addressing legislative updates or any other topics that might be requested by a client or business contact. “One thing most people don’t know about me is that I’m terrified of public speaking. People laugh and think I’m joking when I say that because I’m pretty loquacious.” Gallegos recognizes the importance of making public presentations and admits that, aside from referrals, her biggest source of business is speaking engagements.
Gallegos is a member of the American Bar Association (Business and Entertainment Law Forums). She was honored as one of the 2014 Top 40 Under Forty by “Vegas, Inc.” magazine, which recognizes professionals in the Las Vegas Valley for their professional achievements and contributions to the community. Gallegos was also selected to receive the Corporate INTL Magazine Global award for 2014 Real Estate Law Firm of the Year in Nevada. The firm won the foregoing award as a result of the various real estate work Gallegos performed in the preceding 12 months. Gallegos was also named as a Rising Star by SuperLawyers in 2013.
She also serves on the Board of Directors of Life Long Dreams, a nonprofit organization that provides visual and performing arts classes to children with disabilities. Originally, she was approached by the president to do work on a different nonprofit agency geared toward at-risk youth that would provide an outlet through the entertainment industry. Since Gallegos has a background in entertainment law, it was a good fit. When she began working on that project, she met the president of Life Long Dreams, who approached her about serving as a board member for the organization. While the other project has been put on hold, Gallegos continues her involvement with Life Long Dreams and said that she is “honored and humbled to have been asked to participate with a group of people who are so dedicated to enriching the lives of children with disabilities.”
When not practicing law, Gallegos has rekindled her love of dance and is currently taking private dance lessons. So whether discussing real estate or corporate transactions, working to provide art to disabled children or pursuing her outside interest, Gallegos is a renaissance lawyer.
Hair and Makeup by Aileen Bautista; Photography by Tim Hancock, TJamesPhoto.com; Styled by Mariah Walton, West London Boutique