LAS VEGAS – The UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law launched today the Justice Michael L. Douglas PreLaw Fellowship Program in honor of the state’s first African-American Supreme Court Justice. This new program from Nevada’s law school aims to introduce high school and college students from diverse communities to the benefits of a legal education and help them to navigate the law school admissions process.
The Justice Douglas PreLaw Fellowship Program, which begins next summer, will offer undergraduate students a week-long immersive educational experience on the UNLV campus with simulated law school classes, networking opportunities with legal professionals, and peer-to-peer advice from current law school students. The agenda will also include practical training, such as how to save money for law school, how to apply for scholarships and financial aid, how to prepare for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), and what college courses to take to best prepare for law school.
As part of the program, high school students will also get a taste of the law school experience beginning later this fall by participating in law school classes and other special events to encourage them to think about pursuing a law degree after college.
“Justice Douglas has been a tireless advocate for equality and inclusion in our legal community, and we are delighted to honor that legacy by developing this program in his name,” said Daniel W. Hamilton, dean of the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. “Justice Douglas has been a pioneer in the Nevada bar and bench, and the state will continue to benefit from his leadership on and off the bench.”
The Honorable Michael L. Douglas was appointed to the Nevada Supreme Court in March 2004, and was then elected to the state’s highest court three times. He served as Chief Justice in 2011 and 2018, and retired earlier this year. Justice Douglas, a native of Los Angeles, came to Las Vegas in 1982 from Philadelphia, where he had been working as a private attorney. His Nevada career began as an attorney with Nevada Legal Services in 1982. Two years later he was hired by the Clark County District Attorney’s Office and served in the Civil Division until 1995. In 1996, he was appointed to the Eighth Judicial District Court bench. He took this office and was retained in an election later that year, serving until his appointment to the Supreme Court.
“It has been an honor to serve the people of Nevada for nearly 40 years,” said Justice Douglas. “I look forward to working with the law school to help create a pathway for first-generation and underrepresented students to careers in the law.”
Applications for students interested in participating in the program are now being accepted on the law school’s website. Undergrads interested in becoming a Justice Douglas PreLaw Fellow must participate in a selection process that mimics the law school process: application, academic transcripts and recommendation letters. While the PreLaw Fellowship Program is open to all Nevada students, applications from youths in underrepresented communities are encouraged. A cohort of 15-20 students will be developed from the pool of applications.
Current PreLaw Fellowship Program sponsors include: Bailey Kennedy, Caesars Entertainment, Cozen O’Connor, Justice Michael L. Douglas, Fennemore Craig, Malcolm P. LaVergne, Justice Miriam Shearing, Snell & Wilmer, and Weinberg Wheeler. Organizations interested in recognizing Justice Douglas and supporting the program should contact the law school’s Director of Development, Emily Irwin.