Phoenix attorney Roopali Desai is one of the busiest political and elections attorneys in the state. In fact, she has worked on some of the highest-profile statewide cases of the last four years, including a current suit to invalidate laws banning COVID-19 risk mitigation policies on the basis that they violate the Arizona Constitution; representing the Arizona Secretary of State in 11 successful election-related lawsuits in the last election cycle; and serving as lead counsel for two citizen initiatives, Prop 207 (adult-use marijuana) and Prop 208 (Invest in Ed), in the 2020 General Election.
She is also a triple Wildcat, with her BA, Master’s in Public Health, and JD all from the University of Arizona.
Born in Canada, of East Indian heritage, Roopali settled with her family in Phoenix as a child. During her undergraduate and Master’s studies, she fell in love with Tucson’s mountains and the community, and also met her husband. So when she decided to go to law school, her decision to attend Arizona Law was an easy one.
“Unlike larger law programs, Arizona Law is like a family. There were only 100 students in my 1L class; having intimate small sections and seminar classes fostered a tight-knit, collegial environment. It was also a great place to study and enjoy the outdoors together; some of my fondest memories are hikes with friends and classmates before or after classes or study sessions.”
As a law student, Roopali knew she wanted to work in the public sector helping vulnerable populations. She was drawn to litigation from the beginning, always enjoying public speaking, persuasion and thinking outside the box.
“Litigation allows me to find innovative ways to advocate for clients through writing, thinking and arguing creatively. And, in my area of practice, winning a case often means that a broader group of people — beyond just my immediate client — will benefit. Today I represent clients where I give a voice to the voiceless by working on cases that improve the lives of Arizonans.”
After graduation, Roopali clerked for then-Chief Judge Mary Schroeder of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit—an invaluable opportunity to learn how to approach hard legal problems, evaluate different solutions, and justify a chosen outcome. It also honed her critical thinking and writing skills.
After her clerkship, she went to work for a large regional law firm that provided the opportunity to handle complex matters and work with excellent lawyers.
“I left the big firm to join Coppersmith Brockelman, a remarkable firm that checked every box for me: an incredibly collaborative team of brilliant lawyers, predominantly women, doing the highest-level legal work in Arizona. The firm has supported me as I have developed and grown my unique public law and political and election law practice alongside my litigation practice. I am surrounded by some of the best and brightest lawyers in Arizona and we do extremely interesting and important work.”
Roopali says that one of the greatest things about have gone to law school in the state where she practices is the continuity of great connections with people she’s stayed in touch with and collaborated with from the minute she graduated until today. That includes fellow Arizona Law alumni Marvin Ruth ('01, '05) and Naomi Jorgensen ('01, '07), who work with her at Coppersmith Brockelman.
“I really enjoy having people from my class at the firm and as part of my community.”
It’s also fantastic when she has the opportunity to reconnect with other Arizona Law alumni after many years since graduation. Some are clients, opposing counsel, judges, fellow parents and soccer moms, and volunteers in the community.