UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Receives $1 Million Gift from Sam and Lexy Lionel to Support Student Experiential Education


LAS VEGAS – The UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law announced today a $1 million endowment for its Externship Program thanks to a gift from Sam and Lexy Lionel. This gift will establish the Samuel S. Lionel Externship Program, which recognizes Mr. Lionel’s significant and lasting contributions to the Las Vegas legal community and provides support to Boyd students as they gain practical experience in the externship program.

The law school’s Samuel S. Lionel Externship Program will continue to be directed by Professor Dawn Nielsen, a Boyd alum with a deep commitment to experiential legal education. Thanks to the Lionels’ continued generosity and under Professor Nielsen’s leadership, the law school will now be able to enhance program offerings, hire Lionel Fellows to assist with the classroom component of the program, and provide scholarships to students in placements serving underrepresented communities throughout Nevada. 

“I am incredibly grateful to Sam and Lexy Lionel for their continued support of the law school over the years and this gift is yet another example of that generous support,” said Sara Gordon, interim dean of the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. “The naming of our externship program for Sam Lionel is especially meaningful, as this program gives our students the opportunity to gain real-world experience in the practice of law while also developing valuable relationships with mentors in those settings. Throughout his career, Sam served as a mentor to countess attorneys in Nevada and this gift reflects his ongoing commitment to preparing new lawyers to better serve our community and our state.”

Boyd externships are elective experiential learning courses that integrate class work with real-world experience. Students gain a deeper understanding of law and see first-hand how the law is applied while working under the direct supervision of lawyers and judges in a variety of settings. They develop relationships and work with leaders in the judiciary, state and local government, and public interest settings. More than 80% of Boyd law students participate in the externship program and it is yet another way that the law school is on the cutting edge of legal education.

"We are optimistic the student attorneys will do well,” said Samuel S. Lionel. Lexy Lionel agrees, adding that, “The Samuel S. Lionel Externship Program is designed to touch many lives and open opportunities for the students at UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. We hope our donation will make a difference for many generations to come.” 

This gift builds upon the Lionels’ ongoing support of the law school through the Samuel S. Lionel Professorship in Intellectual Property Law, a position held by Professor Marketa Trimble, and the LaFrance-Trimble student achievement award, which is named after Trimble and fellow Professor Mary LaFrance and is presented annually to the outstanding graduate in the law school’s Intellectual Property Concentration. Most recently, the Lionels donated $1 million to create the Reid-Lionel Scholarship Fund in recognition of Senator Harry Reid. 

Established in 1998, the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas has nearly 400 students and offers three juris doctor degree programs: a full-time day program, a part-time day program, and a part-time evening program. The school also offers a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Gaming Law and Regulation and three dual degree programs: the J.D./MBA, J.D./M.S.W., and J.D./Ph.D. It is fully accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. For more information about UNLV Law, please visit law.unlv.edu and stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.