Areas of Practice
- Nevada, 2002
- California, 2003
- J.D., University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), 2002
- M.A., Education, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1997
- B.A., with honors, Zoology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1991
Debbie Leonard is a partner based in the firm’s Reno office and is co-chair of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group. Her practice focuses on litigation and appeals deriving from real property, land use and natural resource disputes. Before becoming a lawyer, Ms. Leonard worked for the United States Forest Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service on resource management issues and environmental assessment. She has also taught science at the secondary and college levels. Prior to joining the firm, she served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable David W. Hagen in the United States District Court, District of Nevada.
Ms. Leonard received her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) with a certificate in environmental law. She also has a master’s degree in education from the University of California, Santa Cruz and graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a bachelor’s degree in zoology.
Ms. Leonard represents clients before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Nevada’s appellate courts and the California courts of appeal on a host of appellate matters, including direct appeals, writ practice, petitions for review and amicus briefs. She also handles appeals from administrative decisions. From ensuring that appellate issues are properly preserved in the trial court, to delivering succinct and persuasive arguments in briefs and at oral argument before appellate courts, Ms. Leonard guides clients in all aspects of appeals.
Water, Environment & Natural Resources
Having worked as a biologist before becoming a lawyer, Ms. Leonard is well positioned to assist clients with a host of water and resource-related issues. She handles water rights transactions and litigates water and real property disputes. Through a combination of effective advocacy and negotiation, she helps clients with permitting and regulatory matters before Nevada and federal agencies. She also advises clients regarding environmental due diligence.
Ms. Leonard is a trained mediator and has successfully assisted parties to resolve all manner of disagreements, from complex business litigation to attorney-client fee disputes. With her practice area focus in water and real property law and her background in natural resource management, she is particularly suited to mediate conflicts between and among land owners, water rights holders, environmental advocates, public agencies, utilities and the agricultural community. Ms. Leonard serves as a Nevada Supreme Court settlement judge and is a volunteer mediator and arbitrator for the Nevada State Bar’s Fee Dispute Resolution program.
Commercial & Complex Litigation
Ms. Leonard litigates a variety of civil matters in state and federal court in both Nevada and California. As a former federal law clerk, she is particularly skilled in procedural issues before the United States District Court. She has had considerable success with motion practice, which has repeatedly led to the resolution of her clients’ cases without the expense of trial.
Awards and Recognition
- Super Lawyers – “Mountain States Super Lawyers”
- “Top 20 Under 40” award for Young Professionals in the Reno-Tahoe Area
- Nevada Business Magazine, “Legal Elite”
- Women of Achievement Award Recipient
- Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated
- Editor, Nevada Appellate Practice Manual (2016)
- Nevada Supreme Court Settlement Judge
- Chair, Appellate Litigation Section of State Bar of Nevada (2013 – 2014)
- Volunteer Mediator and Arbitrator, Nevada State Bar Fee Dispute Mediation and Arbitration Panel
- Advisory Board, Nevada Land Trust
- Pro Bono Legal Counsel, Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway
- Lawyer Representative, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (2016-present)
October, 2018, The Writ, “Appellate Briefs” Nevada law allows the “prevailing party” to recover costs and, in some cases, fees. But it is not always clear who qualifies as the…
Nevada Supreme Court Accepts Certified Question From the Ninth Circuit Regarding Application of Public Trust Doctrine to Adjudicated Water Rights
August/September, 2018, Western Water Law & Policy Reporter, Pages 301-303 — In the long-running dispute over the waters of the Walker River, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently certified…
July/August, 2018, The Writ, “Appellate Briefs”–Appellate practice begins in the district court. That is where you make your record on appeal and preserve issues so that the judgment can be…
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