Roopali Desai

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Roopali heads the firm’s Election and Political Law group and is the leading election lawyer in Arizona. Her political law practice involves advising clients on all aspects of election law including campaign finance compliance, disclosure and reporting requirements, and bringing and defending election challenges. Roopali is especially known for her experience representing initiative and referendum campaigns, and has led numerous measures to victory including Smart and Safe Arizona (Prop. 207), Invest in Education (Prop. 208), Save Our Schools (Prop. 305), AZ Education Finance Amendment (Prop. 123), and Reid Park Zoo Animal Quality of Life Acts (Props. 202 and 203).  She is experienced in drafting ballot language and preparing initiative and referendum petitions, and has a winning track record in defending and bringing various types of pre- and post-election lawsuits, including seeking injunctive relief. Roopali is experienced in drafting and commenting on proposed legislation, advising clients on regulatory issues and aggressively representing her clients in court. Roopali’s political law clients include federal, state, and local candidates and elected officials; political parties; independent expenditure committees; ballot measure sponsors, supporters, and opponents; corporate, union, and trade association PACs; nonprofit organizations; and governmental entities at the state, county, municipal, and special taxing district levels.

Roopali is also a leader in the firm’s litigation group, focusing her practice in the areas of complex civil litigation, public records litigation, constitutional and civil rights law, and civil appeals. Her practice involves representing clients at all stages of litigation in state and federal court, in front of administrative agencies, and in arbitration proceedings. Her clients include large and small businesses, non-profits, and political campaigns and parties. Roopali’s business clients rely on her experience and her creative approach to litigating when they need help resolving disputes in a variety of areas, including contracts, business torts, trade secrets, real estate, partnership, and products. She also regularly assists her clients in obtaining time-sensitive relief, including temporary and preliminary injunctive relief, expedited appeals, and special actions.

Representative Matters

  • Legal counsel to Sinema for Arizona.
  • Prevailed in 11 lawsuits relating to the 2020 General Election on behalf of the Arizona Secretary of State.
  • Representation of cannabis companies in regulatory matters and litigation relating to the Smart and Safe Arizona Act and Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.
  • Principal drafter of Smart and Safe Arizona Act (adult use of marijuana) and Invest in Education Act.
  • Representation of plaintiffs in commercial and civil rights cases resulting in 7-figure awards or settlements.
  • Legal counsel to the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona and United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association in political law matters.
  • Litigation arising out of Arizona’s public records law and open meeting laws. ACLU v. Ariz. Dept. of Child Safety, 240 Ariz. 142 (App. 2017); Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care v. Arizona Department of Health Services, CV2015-007691.
  • Representation of political committees and candidates in election-related litigation, including ballot measure challenges to initiatives and referenda. g. Molera v. Hobbs, 250 Ariz. 13 (2020); James v. Hobbs, CV-20-0226-AP/EL (2020); Perea v. Reagan, CV-18-0036-AP/EL (2018); Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers v. Price, 244 Ariz. 330 (App. 2017); Respect Promise in Opposition to R-14-02-Neighbors for a Better Glendale v. Hanna, 2015 WL 5474447 (Ariz. App. 2015); Shooter v. Farmer, 235 Ariz. 199 (2014); Parker v. City of Tucson, 233 Ariz. 422 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2013).
  • Representation of civil rights and voting rights organizations. Litigation arising out of violations of constitutional rights, civil rights and voting rights. Representation of plaintiffs in claims alleging violation of constitutional rights. g., Arizonans for Second Chances, Rehab., & Pub. Safety v. Hobbs, 249 Ariz. 396, 471 P.3d 607 (2020); Madonna v. State of Arizona, 2018 WL 2111441 (Ariz. App. 2018); Doe v. Heritage Academy, Inc., 2017 WL 4922059 (D. Ariz.); United Food & Commercial Workers Local 99 v. Bennett, 934 F.Supp.2d 1167 (D.Ariz. 2013).
  • Successfully defended the winning bidder of a multimillion-dollar state contract in the largest health care bid protest in Arizona history.
  • Obtained defense verdict in civil rights action against large hospital system.
  • Successfully defended claims against developer brought by competitor in municipal zoning matter.
  • Prevailed on summary judgment on behalf of a global manufacturer of window products in construction defect litigation involving more than 1,000 homes.

Awards & Recognitions

  • Valle del Sol Mom of the Year 2021
  • Arizona Capitol Times’ Best of the Capitol Awards: Best Political Lawyer 2019; Best Political Lawyer 2021
  • Finalist, 2017 ATHENA Awards
  • Az Business Magazine’s Most Influential Women 2016
  • Phoenix Business Journal: 40 under 40 2016
  • Chambers USA: Litigation – General Commercial (2021 – present)
  • The Best Lawyers in America© 2021 Phoenix Civil Rights Law “Lawyer of the Year”
  • The Best Lawyers in America©: Commercial Litigation (2015 – present); Civil Rights Law (2017 – present); Administrative/Regulatory Law; Appellate Practice (2019 – present); First Amendment Law (2020 – present)
  • Southwest Super Lawyers: Legislative & Government Affairs (2019 – present)
  • Southwest Super Lawyers Rising Stars (2014 – 2016)

Publications & Speeches

  • Presenter, “Legalization in Arizona: Initiatives and Ethics,” State Bar of Arizona (Oct. 2020)
  • Panelist, “Amicus Briefs on Appeal,” State Bar of Arizona (Jan. 2018)
  • Presenter, Arizona Election Law Seminar, State Bar of Arizona (2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020)
  • Co-author, Ariz Election Law Seminar Manual (2012, 2014, 2016, 2018)
  • Co-author, Arizona Consent and Health Information Resource Manual (2009)
  • Presenter, “Arizona’s Electronic Discovery Laws – Update for Compliance Officers,” Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association Task Force on Healthcare Compliance Meeting (2009)
  • Co-presenter, “Arizona’s Electronic Discovery Laws and Their Impact on Health Care CIOs,” Arizona Healthcare Information Executives Meeting (2008)

Activities & Memberships

  • Member, Transition Team for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (2018)
  • Member, Committee on Civil Justice Reform (2015 – 2017)
  • Member & Former President, Bd. of Directors, Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest (2008 – present)
  • Member, Ballot Initiative Strategy Center Lawyers’ Guild (2020 – present)
  • Member, Board of Directors, American Civil Liberties Union – Arizona (Jan. 2014 – 2020)
  • Member, Board of Directors, New Pathways for Youth (Sept. 2015 – 2019)
  • American Bar Association
  • State Bar of Arizona
  • Maricopa County Bar Association

Clerkships

  • Hon. Mary Schroeder, Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Education & Admissions

  • J.D., University of Arizona, magna cum laude
  • M.P.H., University of Arizona, summa cum laude
  • B.A., Women’s Studies, University of Arizona, cum laude

 

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