Annual event provides legal council to locals, prepares students
The William S. Boyd School of Law offered a series of free legal education classes to the public during its annual Community Law Day.
Bankruptcy, family law and small claims were three prevalent legal concerns featured during this year’s line-up. The event began in Spring 1998.
Held on Aug. 18, CLD was co-sponsored by the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada and Nevada Legal Services — two companies that have been working together with the law school to provide free classes.
Typically, law courses are taught throughout the week, but during CLD, they are offered all in the same day.
Classes introduced civil procedure, requirements for legal action and law revisions most common to their corresponding issues, and many participants gained enough legal knowledge to represent themselves or to decide to seek pro-bono representation.
Further, each class provided the contact information for individuals to qualify and apply for pro-bono assistance.
“Over the years we all get together — the community partners, the law school and judges in the community — to get an idea of what classes are needed,” said Christine Smith, associate dean for administration and student affairs at Boyd and one of the program’s founders. “Classes have evolved throughout the years based on the needs of the community.”
Each course is taught by a UNLV law student and a supervising attorney.
“Students are clearly more nervous in the beginning [while] the supervisors are much more engaged in the material in the beginning of the semester, and by the end of the semester the supervisors get to sit back because the students have basically mastered the material,” said Lynn Etkins, Esq., associate executive director at Legal Aid Center.
First year law students are also asked to attend in order to understand the needs of the community and to see what classes they might be interested in teaching.
“From the moment they get to Boyd, we want them to be interested in community service,” Smith said.
When the classes began 14 years ago, not only were they meant to give back to the community, but also instill the pro-bono spirit in law students by implementing a graduation requirement for students to teach for a certain amount of hours.
Smith believes that the classes teach beginning law students the importance of helping those in need, so that when they graduate they “carry on the tradition” of providing pro-bono services, regardless of their line of work.
“We’ve noticed that a huge number of Boyd alums are helping with pro-bono, and I like to think it’s because they were exposed to it early on through this program,” she said.