INCLINE VILLAGE – After 43 years in practice, Incline Village attorney John Rogers is stepping away from his firm.
Rogers first “hung out his shingle” on Southward Boulevard in 1974. A short time later, he founded Incline Law Group LLP, “a mountain boutique practice,” at Village Boulevard and Incline Way. As Incline Village grew, he developed strong ties with real estate and title professionals.
As of Dec. 31, Rogers will become an attorney of counsel at Incline Law Group, a move that will allow him to still practice but do so independently as he eases toward retirement.
Upon graduating from Berkeley Law School and passing the California bar, he said he had envisioned going into environmental law. Seeking the opportunity to live and work in the Lake Tahoe area, he also completed the Nevada bar exam.
“I fell in love with Tahoe, its history and law related to planning issues related to the lake,” Rogers told the Northern California Record.
He eventually opened an office in Incline that was in close proximity to real estate brokers and a title company. Their agents sent him their clients and his practice flourished.
As with most businesses, there were many surprises and challenges along the way. He said one of the biggest was the downturn in construction in the 1970s, when Lake Tahoe regulators imposed a moratorium on new construction in order to protect the natural ecology of the area.
“People in construction suddenly couldn’t live here anymore because there was no work,” Rogers said. “I’m grateful there has always been work to sustain me and my practice and the ability to grow. We did very well staying active during the economic declines.”
The moratorium on growth ultimately protected Tahoe from the extreme real estate boom and bust cycles that ravaged fast-growth cities like neighboring Reno and Sparks, Nevada.
“There was a general downturn here and reduction in property values but probably less of a decline overall. The economic impact wasn’t as serious,” he said. “Our area has suffered a significant number of foreclosures, and I wonder if some are still being held off the market. But property values are now almost back to pre-2008 levels.”
Today, Rogers says his work philosophy is all about gratitude.
“I’ve enjoyed and am grateful for clients who have come my way, often out of real estate,” he said. “Real estate became [a] good place to meet clients who had business interests. And I’m grateful for the remarkable attorneys who have worked with me over the years and my talented and dedicated partners at Incline Law Group.”
Rogers said one of the biggest highlights of his professional career was representing homeowners who were threatened by their homeowners association (HOA) with fines because they rented their condominium to others on occasion.
“Prevailing for my clients and striking down the unreasonable and unlawful acts of a HOA board was a result that brought great satisfaction,” he said.
“It’s very challenging for owners who have to fight unreasonable and unlawful regulation by HOA boards, because it is incredibly expensive to defend an owner’s interest; whereas, the HOA has considerably more clout and financial resources – resources that are partly paid by my client-owner. This is an area of the law where I hope additional relief will come to owners who have to defend themselves from injustice.”
In his personal life, the father of seven says hiking the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) was a wonderful highlight.
“It took us 15 days, spread over many weekends, but we only had to camp out three of those days, and we saw magnificent scenery that you can only see from the TRT. We finished Nos. 159 and 160 of those who completed the entire journey,” Rogers said. “Wonderful memories.”
For the attorneys that follow in his footsteps, Rogers foresees some challenges. Those that choose to specialize will have to possess complex knowledge, he said, while generalists will have to decide how to manage while juggling a number of practice areas.
“Being here at Incline, I knew I wouldn’t be doing tax law because it’s mostly practiced in economic centers,” said Rogers, offering an example. “Specialty practice, and the time to keep up-to-date on developments, is a challenge going forward whether in a large firm or a small practice.”
Meanwhile, Rogers will be going through the boxes of files he had collected over many years, deciding what to recycle and hoping to find some forgotten treasures.
“My wife and I do want to and expect to spend more time with our children and their families spread across the country, from Santa Barbara to Albuquerque, to the Salt Lake Valley, to Pinedale, Wyoming and finally to Madison, Wisconsin, we have a lot of country to cover,” he said.
“We also look forward to serving missions for our church in the near future. I am very confident we will find many good and adventurous things to do.”