Growing up in the small town of Big Sandy, Montana, where he worked on the family ranch, Karl Rutledge got to know rodeos. He even performed as a rodeo clown, and a bull rider protector.
He didn’t consider either occupation a career choice. “It was more a way to earn money, travel and have fun,” he says. “But after increasingly frequent ER visits, family and friends told me it was time to grow up and find a different profession.”
He found law. Rutledge moved to Las Vegas to attend law school and never left.
“Sitting in a desk chair lacks a little of the excitement and pride of saving a bull rider when they buck off,” he says.
But no regrets.
His foray into the rodeo world benefited his career in the legal world. “First, due to the high level of danger, it taught me the importance of being able to not only make quick and decisive decisions but also correct decisions. A wrong decision in the rodeo could get you hurt or, worse, could cause someone else to get injured.”
The other takeaway is understanding the role that hard work plays in success. Dedication and working hard sets you apart from others, says Rutledge, who is all in for the Golden Knights, the Las Vegas entry in the NHL.
“I’m one of the @GoldSuitGuys present at almost every home game trying to increase the team spirit and excitement of being a fan,” he says.
As chairman of the Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie Gaming Industry Group, Rutledge manages the firm’s gaming practice and provides counsel to clients and the business community about the nuances of gaming. These days, much of the counseling revolves around esports, fantasy sports, sports betting and promotional marketing.
“We also help clients navigate the regulatory framework of numerous states,” Rutledge says.
Like other attorneys, he has to work long hours while searching for time to be with his children at their big events. “I haven’t mastered this yet but still trying,” says Rutledge, who takes his young boys to the hockey games as often as possible.
Rutledge credits his success to a class at the William S. Boyd School of Law, taught by Bob Faiss and Tony Cabot. He parlayed what he learned into a job opportunity with Cabot, a former gaming attorney at Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie and currently a Distinguished Fellow in Gaming Law at the Boyd school.
“Tony is a world-renowned expert in gaming law, and I gained a tremendous amount of legal knowledge while working beside him for almost 12 years,” he says.
Rutledge hopes to continue his mission helping clients deal with the gaming industry. And he also plans to share his knowledge with future generations through both his practice and by teaching at William F. Harrah College of Hospitality at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
His advice for younger people is the same regardless of the industry.
“Do it because you have the passion for it and surround yourself with good people,” he says. “I’m lucky that I love gaming law and work with the best people, from my gaming partner, Glenn Light, to our associate, Mary Tran. It is essential you be there with people you like and trust.”