Roopali Desai

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Roopali is a partner in the firm’s litigation group, focusing her practice in the areas of complex civil litigation, political 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.

Roopali is also a leading election lawyer in Arizona. Her political and public law practice involves advising clients on all aspects of election law, including regulatory compliance and election challenges, representing clients in open meeting and public records matters, and assisting clients in the lawmaking process. Roopali is especially known for her experience representing initiative, referendum, and recall campaigns, and has served as legal counsel for numerous successful statewide and local measures. She is experienced in drafting ballot language and preparing initiative and referendum petitions, and is experienced in defending and prosecuting various types of pre- and post-election challenges to ballot measures, including seeking injunctive relief.

During the 2020 General Election, Roopali handled more than a dozen cases relating to voting procedures and election results. She represented the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office and defeated numerous cases seeking to challenge the results of Arizona’s election. Roopali’s political law clients include federal, state, and local candidates; political party organizations and clubs; independent expenditure committees; ballot measure sponsors, supporters, and opponents; corporate, union, and trade association PACs; nonprofit organizations; and governmental bodies such as state agencies, cities, and towns.

Named as one of twelve national honorees by USA Today’s 2022 Women of the Year, Roopali is a tireless advocate for a better Arizona. In recent years, she has obtained significant victories in the areas of voting rights, public education, public health, criminal justice reform, and government transparency. Her commitment to the community extends beyond her legal cases. She serves on several community boards, she is a Professor of Practice for the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, and volunteers for a local food pantry that feeds hungry families. Roopali is also the proud mother of three vibrant daughters and the wife of an artist and art professor. When not tending to the needs of her busy law practice, she tends to her garden with her family, hikes in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and other majestic mountains in Arizona, and cooks her favorite Indian dishes.

Representative Matters

  • Legal counsel to Sinema for Arizona and Tom O’Halleran for Congress.
  • Obtained summary judgment and award of attorneys’ fees on behalf of national healthcare system and its manager relating to contract dispute. Subsequently successfully defended the District Court’s grant of summary judgment and award of fees on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • 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.
  • Legal counsel to Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona and United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association.
  • Routinely brings and defends challenges to candidate nomination petitions and ballot measure petitions. In recent years, successfully defended challenge to referendum petitions for Prop 305 on behalf of Save Our Schools Arizona, successfully defended nomination petitions for candidate in Congressional District 4, and successfully defended challenge to initiative petitions in City of Kingman on behalf of business owners. Also has experience on the other side, successfully challenging initiative petition based on petition and signature defects, Parker v. City of Tucson, 314 P.3d 100 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2013), and successfully defended mandamus action seeking to compel placement of referendum measure on city ballot, Respect Promise in Opposition to R-14-02-Neighbors for a Better Glendale v. Hanna, 2015 WL 5474447 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2015).
  • Successfully obtained a preliminary injunction and, ultimately, summary judgment in a case challenging the constitutionality of legislation. United Food & Commercial Workers Local 99 v. Bennett, 934 F.Supp.2d 1167 (D.Ariz. 2013).
  • Routinely represents and advises clients in matters relating to Arizona’s public records and open meeting laws. See Fann v. Kemp in & for County of Maricopa, 505 P.3d 301 (App. 2022).

Awards & Recognitions

  • Chambers USA: Political Law, National (2022)
  • USA Today: Women of the Year (2022)
  • In Business: Women of Achievement (2021)
  • Valle del Sol Mom of the Year (2021)
  • Arizona Capitol Times: Best of the Capitol Awards: Best Political Lawyer (2019 & 2021)
  • Business Insider: 11 Power Players Shaping Arizona’s Recreational Cannabis Market (2021)
  • Finalist, ATHENA Awards (2017)
  • Az Business Magazine’s Most Influential Women (2016)
  • Phoenix Business Journal: 40 under 40 (2016)
  • Chambers USA: Litigation – General Commercial, Arizona (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); and 2021 Phoenix Civil Rights Law “Lawyer of the Year”
  • Southwest Super Lawyers: Legislative & Government Affairs (2019 – present)
  • Southwest Super Lawyers Rising Stars (2014 – 2016)

Publications & Speeches

  • Presenter, “How to be a good consumer of professional services,” Arizona Department of Health Services Social Equity Ownership Training Program (Sept. 2021)
  • Contributor, The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC (April 2021)
  • Commenter, “Restaurant surcharges for ballot measures, COVID-19 expenses are reminder to check your bill,” Arizona Republic (Jan. 2021)
  • Commenter, “Groups want Arizona court to allow for online petition signatures,” Arizona Daily Star (April 2020)
  • Commenter, “Chaos predicted for 3 proposals that weaken voters’ power,” Arizona Capitol Times (March 2020)
  • Commenter, “Arizona has 4th-highest prison population in U.S. Ballot measure could change that,” Arizona Republic (Feb. 2020)
  • Panelist, “Amicus Briefs on Appeal,” State Bar of Arizona (Jan. 2019)
  • Presenter, Arizona Election Law Seminar, State Bar of Arizona (2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019)
  • Co-author, Arizona 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, American Law Institute (2021)
  • Member, Advisory Board, National Cannabis Roundtable (2021 – present)
  • Member, Board of Directors, Save Our Schools Arizona (January 2019 – present)
  • Member, Transition Team for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (Dec. 2018 – January 2019)
  • Member, Committee on Civil Justice Reform (2015 – 2017)
  • Member, Board of Directors, Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest (2008 – present)
  • Member, Board of Directors, American Civil Liberties Union – Arizona (Jan. 2014 – July 2019)
  • Member, Board of Directors, New Pathways for Youth (Sept. 2015 – March 2019)
  • American Bar Association
  • State Bar of Arizona
  • Maricopa County Bar Association
  • American Health Lawyers Association

Clerkships

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

Education & Admissions

  • J.D., University of Arizona, cum laude
  • M.P.H., University of Arizona, summa cum laude
  • B.A., Women’s Studies, University of Arizona, magna cum laude
  • Admitted in Arizona, 2006
  • Admitted to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2007
  • Admitted to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, 2020
  • Admitted to the United States Supreme Court, 2021

Roopali Desai

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Roopali H. Desai
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