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"Some comments on the question of a law school for Nevada" by Leonard E. Goodall





1980 (year approximate)


Folder contains a paper titled "Some Comments on the Question of A Law School for Nevada" by Leonard E. Goodall, President, University of Nevada, Las Vegas for the use of the consulting firm of Cresap, McCormick and Paget, and the Law School Advisory Committee, Judge William Beko, Chairman, and the Board of Regents of the University of Nevada System, Robert Cashell, Chairman. From the University of Nevada, Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law Records (UA-00048).

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sod2023-049. University of Nevada, Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law Records, approximately 1968-2002. UA-00045. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Some Comments on the Question of A Law School for Nevada - " . X:-"' X :s,. ' •' ' f-v • •• :v - ' 0:;-i A Paper Prepared by Leonard E. Goodall, President University of Nevada, Las Vegas d.,- For the Use of : The Consulting Firm of Cresap, McCormick and Paget and The Law School Advisory Committee Judge William Beko, Chairman and The Board of Regents of the University of Nevada System Robert Cashell, Chairman Some Comments on the Matter of a Law School for Nevada by Leonard E. Goodall, President, UNLV Introduction Soon after assuming the duties as president of UNLV in July, 1979, I began to receive numerous invitations to speak to service clubs, alumni groups, community organizations and other groups in the state. In addressing those groups about my thoughts on the future of the university, I often indicated my support for a law school and my plans to give this a high priority within the long range planning for UNLV. In making those comments I felt that I was simply restating policy which the Board of Regents had established several years ago and had continued to support through the years. With this background, I should point out in the introductory section of this paper that my position on the basic question of a law school is already well known. My comments here are not intended to be an announcement of a position, since that is already well established. I would, however, like to express my thoughts in a bit more detail here in hopes that they will be of use to the study committee appointed by Chairman Cashell, the consultants selected by the study committee, and ultimately the Board of Regents itself. Chairman Cashell has described the actions of the Board of Regents at its November 2 meeting. The following, including the material in parentheses, is Mr. Cashell's description of the Board's action: 1. Reaffirm the concept of a law school (no time frame or location was suggested; however, I believe that previous Board action strongly indicates that it would be located on the UNLV campus); * 2. Authorize the Chairman (of the Board of Regents) to appoint a committee of select Nevadans to recommend consultants to update the 1975 Law School Study; and 3. To also recommend consultants to review and develop a master plan for professional schools (e.g., architecture and veterinary medicine) for the next decade, with this master plan also addressing the location of the medical school. * The words in parentheses are not mine; they are part of the direct quote from the letter. - 2 - I would call particular attention to several aspects of these three points. First/ it should be noted that the Regents did indeed "reaffirm the concept of a law school" and recognize that earlier actions of the board had strongly indicated that its location will be on the UNLV campus. Second, it should be noted that the Regents are interested not just in the question of a law school but also in broader questions concerning the future development of professional schools for the entire university system. This latter point is quite significant and bears directly on the law school question, as I shall point out in the following paragraphs. Our First Priority: A Balanced System of Higher Education for Nevada Before addressing the questions of "whether" or "where" for a law school, I want to call attention to a more general concern, the need for maintaining a balanced system of higher education for our state. 'I understand the term "balanced" to mean that we want to maintain two universities both of which are highly respected and nationally recognized by others in the higher education community throughout the state, the nation, and beyond. Both will be involved in undergraduate education and graduate education through the doctoral level, both will be involved where appropriate in professional education, and both will have areas of uniqueness and specialization (for example, agriculture at Reno and hotel administration at Las Vegas). It is not my understanding that it is the desire of people of the state or their elected representatives on the Board of Regents to have one senior recognized university and one junior institution that might be more appropriately described as a state college. I believe the system is well on the way to achieving this concept of balance, and further progress can obviously be made toward this goal in the future. It is also quite possible, however, to introduce rather permanent imbalance into the system if certain kinds of decisions are made. For example, in order to maintain balance between the two universities, it is imperative that the professional schools be distributed across the two campuses. It may be an over-simplification, but I would suggest that there is no state in the nation where the concentration of (1) the land grant activities, (2) the medical school and (3) the law school, on a single campus does not result in the other university or universities in the state being looked upon as somewhat lower (in terms of status, quality and the other subjective measures by which universities are evaluated) in the state's system of higher education. Obviously I cannot prove this because we are talking about subjective evaluations. I v/ould submit, however, that among the state systems of higher education which I know, this - 3 - fact is true without exception. This recognition of a single institution as the "premier" campus of the system may occur even without the concentration of these three vital functions in one location, but I am suggesting it is almost impossible to keep it from occurring if these three particular functions are concentrated on a single campus. What does this mean for Nevada? Before expanding on this question I would refer back to Chairman Cashell's third point above, in which he notes that the questions which the Regents are interested in are "also addressing the location of the medical school." I mention this because it is significant to my thinking about the subject of balance. The land grant functions of the university are quite appropriately located in Reno, and no questions have ever been raised about that. If for any reason the medical school were to be 'relocated to Las Vegas, my concerns about the issue of balance as they relate to the law school would obviously be quite different. I have no strong feelings at all about the location of the medical school, and I am very pleased that the Regents are themselves openminded on this matter and committed to giving it further study. I would comment only that the problems involved in moving as complex and expensive a facility as a medical school from Reno to Las Vegas would be formidable ones indeed. It could certainly be done, but it would not be easy. My thoughts on the issue of balance, therefore, lead me to the following conclusion: (1) the university system is to establish a law school; and (2) we are committed as a system to the concept of balance; and (3) the medical school is to remain in Reno, then I would strongly recommend that the law school ought to be located in Las Vegas. There are other reasons why Las Vegas is an appropriate location for the law school, but those other reasons relate specifically to the issues of legal education. My point here is to emphasize the tremendous impact of the location decision on the broader question of a commitment to balance in our entire higher education system. The Issue of "Need" Does Nevada need a law school? As we move from the general issue of commitment to a balanced university system, we need to focus on the specific question of "need" for a law school. I am convinced there is no single answer to this question and one can pretty much prove whatever one wants to prove. I would like to suggest three possible answers, one qualitative answer and two quantitative answers. - 4 - The state's need for law school services. My qualitative answer to this question is simply a basic belief that every subdivision in a federal system of government ought to have its own law school. This cannot be quantified, but I think every state has its own unique characteristics and deserves to have a law school that speaks specifically to those characteristics. A law school provides an institutional home for legal history and documentation. In addition, a law school often publishes a law review and special studies which contribute to knowledge about the state's political and legal system. In most states, the in-state law school is the major source of applicants to take the bar examination. Nevada is one of the most rapidly growing states in the nation (it was the most rapidly growing during the past decade as will be reflected in the census of 1980), and it is one of only three state's (the others are Alaska and Rhode Island) which does not have a law school. This means that we are not only placing our current generations of young people at a disadvantage in obtaining legal education, but we are also neglecting the future. Nevadans have had a tradition of planning and building today for the needs of tomorrow. They should do no less as they look forward to meeting the needs for legal education of a state that will pass the million mark in population and continue its growth well beyond that figure in the years immediately ahead. State's need for more attorneys. When one attempts to quantify the question of need there are at least two different questions that can legitimately be asked. One is, "Does Nevada need more people educated in law and conversant with the legal system?" A second question would be, "Is there sufficient student demand among the population of Nevada to support the enrollment in a law school?" Both are very legitimate questions, and the ansv/ers may possibly be different. Let us address here the first question of whether the state needs more people educated in the law. I believe one can come to very different answers to this question, depending upon the assumptions and data used. The law school study done by Dean Pedrick and updated projections based on those same data indicate that the number of attorneys serving the Nevada populations is neither exceedingly high or exceedingly low. Our ratio is not unlike that of other fairly sparsely populated states which ^ have in-state law schools. Indeed one can interpret this to mean that our need is as great as that in other states which have seen fit to establish law schools or it could be interpreted to mean that we are getting along fairly well without one. Is the glass of water halffull or half-empty? - 5 - Another part of the question which is very difficult to get a definitive answer to is the need to have legal education available for people who will never "practice law" as a full time profession. Increasing numbers of law school students want their education to prepare them as business executives, bankers, government officials or other professions. Thus, one cannot determine need just by comparing the number of practicing attorneys with the population of the area. I shall not devote much effort or space to discussing this question because I suspect it is the one on which the answer is most subjective and where the data is most susceptible to being manipulated to provide whatever answer one wants to provide. It is certainly a legitimate question to ask, but it is by no means the only relevant one when addressing the law school issue. The state's need to respond to student demand. Are there enough students in Nevada wanting to go to law school to justify the establishment of a law school in Nevada? If I am uncertain about the answer to the question discussed in the preceeding paragraphs, I am completely certain about the answer to this one. I have absolutely no doubts but that the day a law school opened (indeed, weeks and months before), there would be a long waiting list of students applying for admission. I am so confident of this matter that it has influenced in a major way the recommendations which I make below. This is a question on which it would be possible to get reasonable results from a feasibility study if necessary. We could, for example, take a poll of existing juniors and seniors on the university campuses in the state. We could look at the number of students applying to out of state law schools and the number applying to take the state bar exam after having attended out of state law schools. As I mentioned above, however, I would be hesitant to spend too much money surveying this question because I think it would be simply a matter of discovering the obvious. I believe all the evidence points to the fact that large numbers of the citizens and tax payers of Nevada, and in many cases their sons and daughters, want to go to law school near their home. The continuing growth in state population means that this demand will only expand in the future. Even on a nation wide basis, the demand for law school entrance is extremely great. Discussion about a decline in number of applicants to law school simply means that, at many good law schools, there are now only five or six applications for every admission seat rather than the eight or ten applications - 6 - which were received a few years ago. In summary, I believe the admission demands on a law school here would be overwhelming at the outset and would expand with time. It is this basic belief which leads me to recommend several different approaches to responding to this need. The need for quality. Many people have said to me, "If we are going to have a law school let's be sure it's a good one." I agree completely with this objective. The people of the state deserve quality in this program. We must be a bit cautious, however, that we know what we mean when we use the term, "quality." On the one hand, there is the danger that we define quality in such a way as to make the goal unreachable because the cost would be so great that the legislature will be either unable or unwilling to fund it. There are som.e who believe that one of the problem.s in the past was that the cost estimates in the study assured defeat of the project because it scared people away. There may be some who believe that quality is not attainable while serving a diverse student body that includes part-time students. This would be most unfortunate because denial of access to the part-time student would, in my opinion, negate a major function of the school. Finally, we need to recognize that certain things cannot be achieved immediately even if unlimited amounts of money were available. The president of Harvard was once asked what it takes to build a great university and he responded, "Three hundred years." While he may have overstated the case, we should recognize that we will not immediately achieve the stature of USC, Stanford or other major law schools in the west. Our goal should be to define what we mean by quality and then to move toward it in a carefully planned manner. I believe we should define quality to include the following: (1) a plan to move specifically toward accreditation within a stated period of time; (2) a plan to choose certain areas in which we will attempt to achieve excellence, perhaps gaming law, water law or other subjects for which our location will give us some natural advantage; (3) a plan which recognizes that quality cannot be so defined as to exclude the part-time student. If we give some precision to the term "quality", I am convinced we can meet our goals and establish a law school of which we can be proud. The need for credibility. As I discuss the law school issue with people around the state, I find a great need for credibility in our planning process. In particular, I note - 7 - a skepticism that we may find a way to start a law school with private resources and then later ask the state to "bail us out." If the planning process is to have integrity and credibility, this approach must be avoided. I have proposed three alternative plans for creating a law school, each with a different level of state involvement and support. Whether one of these approaches is adopted, or some other one, we must have a clear long range plan and give public assurance we intend to stay with it. Whatever level of commitment is expected of the state, we should spell that out clearly in the beginning and then stay with our plan. The unique needs of the part-time student. A special word should be said about the unique needs of the student who wants to attend law school on a part-time basis. Many of the highest quality and most reputable law schools in the nation have now recognized the need for students who want to attend law school lOn a part-time basis. Most of them combine going to law school with continuing to hold a job, and many of them have no intention of ever practicing law. For example, the young management trainee at a bank may want a law degree in hopes that he will someday become a senior trust officer at the bank. A professional accountant may want to obtain a law degree in order that he can combine the two fields of expertise in his professional practice. A hotel employee may want to get a law degree in order to secure a position in the office of the general counsel of the hotel corporation. In addition, there will be many young people (and many not so young) who will see a legal education as a path to a career change. These will be people who continue to work at their present job while attending law school. Las Vegas offers unique opportunities for that combined activity because of the good compensation available for part-time jobs in this community. One of the reasons for locating the law school in Las Vegas would be the ability to attract large numbers of part-time students here. The population base here makes this the one location in the state where part-time students combined with the full-time students, would add considerably to the total numbers and allow a law school to take advantage of the economies of scale in terms of enrollment Alternative Responses to the Need for a Law School The need for a law school in Nevada, even allowing for rather different definitions of "need," is well established. The issue of how to respond to that need is not a simple "yes" and "no" question. There are a variety of responses which might be suggested. I would recommend three possible responses with one being by far my first and highest priority recommendation. The other two, however, are very viable and should be considered if the first one is not a possibility. 8 - My recommendations in priority order would be: (1) Establishing a state-supported law school at UNLV as a part of the regular UNLV budget and on-going operations. (2) Creation at UNLV of a law school supported through private giving and tuition income, with the state participating through providing tuition scholarships for a given number of in-state students selected on a merit basis. (3) Creation of a receptive atmosphere which would allow a tuition supported law school to be organized and operated in response to state needs. Each of these will be discussed in more detail below. t A State-Supported Lav/ School. I would most strongly recommend, as our first priority option, the establishment of a state-supported law school as a part of UNLV. This is the direction that long-range planning, xindertaken by the campus and the Board of Regents, has pointed for nearly a decade. This is the direction that virtually every other state in the Union has moved in responding to the needs of their residents and taxpayers for legal education. This approach recognizes the role of the state in supporting a comprehensive system of higher education, including professional education. It is the approach used in this state to support education in medicine, agriculture, hotel administration, business administration, and a variety of other programs leading to professional careers. By providing state funding to help support such an institution, there is less requirement that the burden of cost be placed on the individual student, and there is therefore more opportunity for those to participate v7ho would not otherwise be able to afford a law school education. It is consistent with our traditional thinking in this country about the role of public higher education as being a system that extends access to more people and serves as a channel of upward economic and social mobility in our society. To say that we should establish a state-supported law school as part of UNLV is not to imply that it necessarily has to be built on a scale or with the financial costs suggested by the 1975 study commissioned by the Board of Regents. I believe it is possible to phase in a law school program by beginning on a much more modest scale than was implied in that study. I also believe there could be considerable private funding which could help with capital costs, library costs, and other startup costs. On the other hand, I believe it would be important to be honest with the legislature - 9 - and to let them know from the beginning what would be expected of them in terms of state costs in future years. This approach would assume a combination of private and state funding, with the state assuming the major responsibility for providing operating costs in the year ahead. It would be our responsibility to provide a realistic estimate of what those costs are expected to be. To summarize, I would urge the establishment of a state-supported law school at UNLV as the best response to meeting the needs for legal education in Nevada at present and, more importantly, in the future. I believe this is the direction we should go. This is not the only alternative, however, and it is for that reason that I suggest the following as other options to be considered. The following two alternatives depend on state funding either much less or not at all. A tuition supported law school with state scholarships. If state lawmakers are unable or unwilling to provide for a fully state-funded law school, there are still other viable options worthy of consideration. A very reasonable second priority to consider would be for UNLV to establish a law school that would be financed primarily through tuition income The tuition supported law school concept is by no means an untested proposal. There are many law schools in the United States that exist virtually entirely from tuition income. As I have indicated above, I am sufficiently convinced of the extent of the demand for a legal education in Nevada and of the intensity of that demand, that I believe there would be more than enough students willing to pay full cost tuition in order to enroll in a law school in Las Vegas. If one were to go to this proposal, the location becomes even more important because it is essential to have the population base in order to be assured of the demand. It would be even easier at UNLV to establish a tuition supported law school than is true in most other tuition supported law schools in the country because of our almost certain ability to raise private funds. Most tuition supported law schools must include in their tuition the debt service to cover initial capital costs and library acquisition costs. There is fairly strong evidence that these two costs could be covered through private contributions at UNLV, thereby relieving these from the tuition rate. A very important second feature of the tuition supported law school would be the provision for a given number of state scholarships. I am recommending that a proposal for a tuition supported law school would be accompanied by a state appropria tion to provide perhaps 225 tuition scholarships (75 first - 10 - year students, 75 second year students, 75 third year students) which would be awarded to Nevada residents on the basis of a combination of merit and need. There would be several advantageous features to this approach. One would be that it would provide for state participation without requiring the full burden of costs to rest with the state. Regardless of whether one thinks the state "needs" more lawyers in terms of the amount of legal business to be done, there is no question that the state needs some new attorneys coming on line every year. Members of the legal profession retire, change profession, die, move to other states and through such actions create a continual need for replenishing the profession. The state could respond to this need through law school tuition scholarships without having to assume the burden of educating every law school student with the desire and the qualifications to be admitted. Furthermore, this approach does recognize the state's responsibility to help the meritorious student with financial need, thereby continuing the democratic element in our higher education system and assuring that it continues to be an instrument of upward mobility in the legal profession as well as others. The disadvantage is that it stops short of recognizing the state's role in providing legal education in the way that nearly every other state in the union has now responded to meet its own needs. It also does not provide the amount of access to our higher education system that would be provided with a fully state funded law school. Finally, it has the disadvantage of uncertainty in that this approach can succeed only if there really is a sufficient number of students willing to go to law school and pay a tuition at the level necessary to support nearly full cost. As I have said repeatedly, I believe this last problem to be a very minimal one, because I remain convinced that that demand is there in ovezT^^helming numbers. A tuition supported law school at UNLV or privately organized. A third alternative calls for even less state involvement. Indeed the only role of the state in this alternative would be to remain neutral and help create a conducive atmosphere for independent organization of a law school. I mean by that, that if the state feels it cannot provide positive financial support for this endeavor, it should at least not erect barriers in the way of a law school by passing laws that make it excessively difficult to create such an institution or excessively difficult to qualify to have one's graduates take the state bar exam. This approach is essentially a variation of my second alternative, but there would be no state supported tuition - 11 - scholarships. Every student would be responsible for his own finances, except that it might be possible for the law school to generate private support for some scholarships. In fact, I am confident that that could occur. There are two ways that this alternative might be implemented. The first one would be for UNLV to take the active leadership in creating the law school. The law school would be an integral part of UNLV and it would be governed by the UNLV administration and the University Board of Regents. This would have the advantage of quality control, university name recognition and minimal costs in startup because the administrative structure is already in place. The disadvantages to this approach would include the possibility that the university's administrative rules and regulations might be inhibiting in terms of the flexibility needed to create such a new entity. The other alternative for implementation of this approach would be for a private group to establish a private law school in Las Vegas. This would be done entirely outside the structure of the University system. If this approach were used, I would hope there would be some informal relationships between the university system and the new private law school. For example, the private group might agree to appoint a representative of the Regents and a representative of the administration to serve on the Board of the new law school. Also, there might be an agreement that the university would agree to take over the law school, and the private group would agree to such take over, at some point in the future if certain conditions are met. Those conditions might include a given amount of state funding, provision by the university of physical facilities, accreditation, or other conditions that would be mutually agreeable. Such arrangements would provide for a supportive relationship between the university system and the law school rather than have them view each other as competitors in some way. I want to emphasize again that my second and third options are just that—they are alternatives to be considered only if the first option cannot be made a reality. They both have inherent problems associated with them, BUT THEY ARE FAR BETTER THAN NOTHING AT ALL. They both would depend upon a sufficiently high level of student demand, but with the present and ever growing population base of the Las Vegas metropolitan area, THAT DEMAND IS THERE. In Conclusion To summarize, the state of Nevada needs a law school to serve the same array of functions and provide the same diverse - 12 - services that law schools provide for nearly every other state in the union. With Nevada's ever growing population, the time to respond to that need is now. There are a variety of ways to meet that need. The best approach, and the one used by nearly every other state, is for the state to fund a law school as a part of its regular commitment to the state's system of higher education. Other viable alternatives exist, however, and if state leaders feel they cannot provide financial backing for a law school at this time, they should at least work positively in cooperation with state educational leaders to insure an atmosphere in which legal education will be allowed to flourish on its own. The case has been well made that the law school should be located in Las Vegas. The most important reason from my point of view, and one that goes far beyond the issues that relate specifically to legal education, is the state's commitment to a balanced system of higher education. Unless the University system is prepared to do something really far reaching, such as moving the medical school from Reno to Las Vegas, it is almost imperative that the law school be in Las Vegas in order to maintain the commitment to balance. In addition, if either the second or third of the alternatives outlined above should be chosen for implementation, it would be essential to locate the law school in Las Vegas. This is because both of the latter two alternatives depend heavily on strong student demand, and Las Vegas is where the population exist to assure that student demand. The need for a law school in Nevada is there and grows greater as time passes and population increases—the student demand is there in ever increasing numbers—LET US GET ON WITH THE JOB!