Keith Brown Selected as 2014 Boyd Alumnus of the Year

November 04, 2014

Keith Brown 05Keith Brown ’05 has been named the 2014 William S. Boyd School of Law Alumnus of the Year, the highest and most prestigious alumni award given by the school. 

“I’m just humbled,” he said. “When I think of the previous recipients and what they’ve accomplished, and then to be considered worthy of the same distinction really is humbling.”

Licensed to practice law in four states – Nevada, Arizona, California and New Mexico – Brown is an associate general counsel at Southwest Gas Corp. In this role, he is primarily responsible for transactional and real property matters for Southwest Gas, handling contracts and real property rights and acquisitions. A 25-year veteran of the company, Brown has been recognized with individual work accomplishments within the regulatory arena, as well as community awards such as the “Ambassador of Courtesy” by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. However, a more recent point of pride is the recognition he and his colleagues received by the American Gas Association for their assistance in restoration efforts to New York and Boston utilities after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. 

After earning his A.S. degree in Business Administration and B.A. in Economics from the University of Illinois, Brown completed post-graduate work in Accounting and Public Administration at the University of New Mexico. He put his undergraduate degrees to good use by working for an electrical utility company in Albuquerque and as an accounting controller at the University of Phoenix, New Mexico campuses, before moving to Las Vegas and beginning his successful career at Southwest Gas.

Boyd alumni John Piro and Keith Brown
Boyd alumnus John Piro '10 presents Keith Brown '05 with the 2014 Alumnus of the Year award at the All Boyd Dinner on Oct. 18. 

Brown credits a great deal of his success in law to Thom Sheets, his first boss and Southwest Gas Corp.’s then general counsel. Sheets, an advocate for founding the law school, was also on the search committee that appointed Richard J. Morgan as the school’s first dean. 

“Thom, who was also president of the bar association at the time, encouraged me to pursue my desire to become an attorney and enroll at the law school,” Brown said. “I did that and worked full-time while taking advantage of the part-time evening program at Boyd. The evening program was fantastic because there were a lot of people like me – adults not straight out of college. We all had work experience and were going back to school to pursue a law degree … that was the best part of the program. There was always a great depth of experiences in the night classes that shaped the discussions. I’ve made some really good friends along the way.”

Brown also holds the distinction of being the first Boyd School of Law night student to graduate at the top of his class. He was also the proud recipient of the James E. Rogers Outstanding Scholastic Achievement Award, an honor he holds dear. In addition, Brown was the first chair and editor of the Boyd Alumni Newsletter. 

Brown said he couldn’t have planned his law career better if he tried. 

“It took me a while to get to law school, but I did. I’ve always been able to enjoy the work that I do; but since becoming an attorney, it’s been magnified that much more,” he said. 

As for advice to others trying to achieve the balance of working full-time and attending law school, Brown had this to offer: “It’s not for the weak of heart. It does require a fair amount of self-discipline, and I was fortunate to have the support of family, friends and co-workers. Obviously Thom was a good support for me, too. Once you’ve made the declaration to do this, the universe begins to support you in accomplishing that goal and things seem to fall into place. Quite frankly it was a little daunting at times – a lot to take on – but don’t let that fear or self-doubt hold you back. Always keep in mind that even if you fail, you’re going to learn something about yourself along the way and you’re going to meet interesting people – that in and of itself is worth the journey.” 

Watch a short video of Keith Brown receiving his award from UNLV Alumni Association law board member Raymond Smith '03.