The University of Nevada-Law Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law (UNLV Law) was founded in 1998 as the first and only law school in the state of Nevada. The school was named for Nevada attorney and gaming magnate, William Boyd, whose donation made the school’s opening possible. In 2003, the school was fully accredited by the American Bar Association and quickly rose into the top tier of law schools. Unsurprisingly, UNLV law houses a leading center on the study of gaming law. The school attracts a diverse student body with more women attending than men. Almost 40% of the student body identifies as a minority.
UNLV Law offers three options for obtaining a Juris Doctor. Students can enroll full-time, part-time daytime students, or in the evening program. Full-time students take 12-16 hours per semester and generally complete the program in 3 years. Part-time students, either day or evening students, take 8-11 hours per semester and, therefore, require additional semesters to complete the 89 hours required for graduation.
Regardless, of which J.D. program a student pursues, the “first-year” curriculum is comprised of the six core courses of legal education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. These core courses are combined with a two-semester course on the process of lawyering which introduces students to the fundamental of practicing law. In total, UNLV Law requires three semesters (9 total hours) of the lawyering course.
After completing the first-year curriculum, UNLV students are only required to take courses in professional responsibility and evidence. The rest of their course selections are elective. The law school does offer five specialization areas that suggest courses and practical training for students interested in specific areas of the law. Of note is UNLV Law’s specialization in business which includes their slate of classes covering gaming law.
UNLV Law offers a Master of Law (LL.M) degree concentrated on gaming law. The program is considered the most extensive of its kind in the country which is not surprising given the centrality of the gaming industry to the state of Nevada. The LL.M requires one year of residential coursework that includes skill-based courses and an externship or drafting project prior to graduation. The LL.M covers the foundations of hotel and casino law and also allows students to explore more focused areas including technology and cyber security.
For Juris Doctor candidates, UNLV Law also offers three dual degree programs that allow students to work on their law degree concurrently with another professional degree. Students may opt to also earn an M.B.A. from the UNLV’s business school, a Master of Social Work, or a Ph.D in education. By working on both degree at the same time, joint degree students are able to share course credits for both programs, therefore, reducing the total number of semesters to complete both programs. Joint Degrees also prepare students to apply an interdisciplinary approach to the increasingly complex problems of the modern legal environment.
Career and Career Placement
The most recent statistics from UNLV graduating classes indicate that 92% of graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation with 87% of graduates employed in positions that either require a law degree or prefer a Juris Doctor degree. The two most common career choices were small law firm positions and judicial clerkships in the state and local court system. Given that UNLV Law is the only law school in the state, graduates are particularly well suited to earn clerkships in the state court system. Over a third of graduates opted for this career path. Nevada also accounted for nearly 100% of graduates first careers.
With a relatively small student body, the UNLV Law Career Center staff of four professionals provides an array of personalized and general programs for students as they chart their careers. Personalized services include one-on-one counseling as well as editing resumes and cover letters for prospective employers. Generalized services focus on the large fall interview program which brings employers from all over the country onto the UNLV Law campus to recruit and interview students. Law students also have the option of networking with alumni or having lunch with area law firms to learn about job opportunities.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Experiential learning at UNLV Law begins with the three-semester lawyering program all students are required to complete prior to graduation. Students learn the fundamentals of advocacy, research, and writing as they learn how to solve legal problems.
To continue their experiential education, UNLV law offers students the opportunity to work with a unique community outreach program that places students in programs with Nevada legal aid services to provide legal representation to persons who cannot afford it. This program not only serves a vulnerable population but also builds students practical skills. Students may also opt for a one semester externship in a local, national, or international law office. These externships function as a bridge from the classroom to the real practice of law.
Currently, all of UNLV Law’s degree programs require residential coursework although the day and evening part-time programs do allow for a more flexible schedule.
Students at UNLV Law enjoy a law school whose identity is still in development. Each year, new student organizations are formed to provide opportunities for the increasingly diverse student body to stay engaged on a civic, professional, and personal level. The law school already boasts over 30 student organizations. The law school is set on the main campus of UNLV just a few minutes from the airport and walking distance to all the attractions of Las Vegas.
Students at UNLV Law can live either on-campus in a limited number of graduate student housing or find affordable housing in the city. Life in Las Vegas goes beyond the neon lights of the strip. The city is full of unique, ethnic cuisine that celebrates the region diverse background. The surrounding landscape is full of recreational opportunities. The Grand Canyon is a short drive to the East. Las Vegas is also the new home to the NFL’s Raider football franchise. In all, Las Vegas is one of the most unique experiences for any law student.