Sunday, June 25, 2023 | 2 a.m.
Casey Xavier has always cared about his community — and the positive impact he can have on it.
He was elected to the city council in his hometown, Opelousas, La., at age 20, while pursuing his undergraduate degree, and within the next year was serving as the vice chair of elected officials for the Louisiana Democratic Party, Xavier said.
Since then, he has worked as a congressional intern in Washington, D.C., and in multiple industries, from technology to insurance.
“But those things that I was doing — it didn’t feel like a fit for me,” said Xavier, 37. “I kept searching for what it is that I’m supposed to do, and I wasn’t finding it.”
It wasn’t until he began 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 law.
By 2020, Xavier had graduated from the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law, where he gained an affinity for personal injury law and its impact on the community.
“I knew that I had found what I was supposed to do with my life,” said Xavier, who added that — though he’s a self-described “Southern boy,” Las Vegas has now become his “forever” home. “I had finally found it … and I was so excited.”
Now, he is the sole practitioner at his Las Vegas-based firm, Xavier Injury Law, and says he is the only gay, Black owner of a personal injury law firm in Nevada.
Xavier says personal injury law is important because it is the “only means and best means” of helping people who have been harmed, wronged or injured get remedy for their loss. He pointed to cases in which those injured are the sole providers of their family and lose their primary income as cause for justice.
“People come to me when they’re hurt — when they’re injured, and I’m able to assist them to get medical treatment for that pain, to get compensated, to help get them as close to the position they were in before something was taken away from them,” he said. “And I’m not only able to impact them, but I’m able to impact their families too.”
Because his firm is still relatively new, Xavier said it’s small enough to provide clients with a unique, hands-on experience. Additionally, as the owner of his law firm, Xavier says he not only gets to help his clients in a very “tangible” way, but he has the professional and creative freedom to do so how he sees fit.
“I’m free to innovate, to try new things, to consider new ideas, to use technology and to offer people a different kind of experience,” he said. “One that they may not be accustomed to having.”
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, Xavier said.
“I think it’s also important for there to be diversity in professions because you’re able to develop greater synergies when you have diverse experiences and diverse backgrounds,” he said. “And sometimes, you develop greater relationships with people in communities who are different from yours, from your exposure.”
Inclusion and diversity matter in every field, but particularly in the legal services realm — where the communities facing the biggest challenges are often underrepresented, said Sara Ralston, the former executive director of the Nevada Health Commission and a longtime friend of Xavier’s.
“He has an opportunity right now to provide specialized services that just kind of help foster a sense of trust, and empathy, and understanding from those who feel comfortable with Casey representing them, because he has had that experience himself,” Ralston said.
Many people assume law is neutral, or fair, but that’s not always the case, said Stewart Chang, a law professor at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law. He pointed to the disproportionate effect 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. “And therefore it is important that lawyers be able to bring that perspective, so that they can question whether the law actually is neutral — as oftentimes is portrayed.”
Xavier said he wanted people who come to his firm to never feel condescended to, regardless of who they were. He also emphasized that — though his firm is gay- and Black-owned — it does not just serve those communities.
“We serve people of all communities, even those people who consider themselves to have no community,” he said. “Our mission is to represent people fiercely and zealously, and get them compensation that they deserve.”
He’s grateful to those who have already done a great deal of work to diversify the legal profession, Xavier said, citing efforts by both UNLV and the State Bar of Nevada.
In 2020, the Boyd School of Law instituted a course for first-year law students to study the intersection of law with police brutality, inequitable legal structures and more, Chang said, about two years before the American Bar Association mandated similar training for all law schools.
There is, nevertheless, still a ways to go.
“Because there aren’t many Black lawyers in Nevada,” Xavier said. “There aren’t many gay lawyers in Nevada. But members of the community are here. So … having me be in the position that I am, showing people that they can do it, is significant.”
In fact, though diversity in the legal profession has improved drastically over the past two decades, Chang said it was still one of the least diverse professions — with 81% of lawyers identifying as non-Hispanic white, and more than 61% identifying as male.
Over 11% of Las Vegas’ population is Black, Chang said, but the number of Black lawyers in the city is way below that. Ultimately, the legal profession does not fully represent its clientele, he said.
“In order for us to serve a diverse population — and Nevada’s growing increasingly diverse, as a population — we also have to have a diverse bar, a diverse attorney pool, to be able to relate to those clients and to be able to serve their best interests,” Chang said.
Xavier has been a pioneer, Ralston said, breaking barriers that exist for himself and for others in the LGBTQ and Black communities.
He has the ability to create positive change in many people’s lives, she said, and will “undoubtedly empower individuals who have historically felt marginalized in their own way,” ensuring that their voices are heard, and their rights protected.
“I think his very existence sends a powerful message of encouragement and inspiration for other aspiring lawyers who may have faced similar challenges,” Ralston said. “And it really, to me, demonstrates that they too can aspire to greatness and pursue passions and shatter glass ceilings.”
Since it opened about eight months ago, Xavier’s law firm has seen exponential growth and a great deal of success, he said. Going forward, he hopes to build upon that momentum, keep helping people and ultimately become a premier 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 in the city,” Xavier said of Las Vegas. “So, if you know that you’re called to do something special with your life, don’t let anyone or anything get in your way.”
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