First but Not the Last
From being part of Boyd School of Law's charter class to becoming the first Black U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada, Jason Frierson blazes many trails
Jason Frierson was one of the first students to agree to attend the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV. A member of the charter class in 1998, he had just moved from Reno to Las Vegas by way of Compton, Calif., and was excited to see where he’d be studying.
He drove by the school a week before class would begin. At the time, the Boyd School of Law was housed at the shuttered Paradise Elementary School and was still under renovation.
“There was playground equipment outside the week before school started. It gave me pause,” says Frierson, who played football and did his undergraduate study at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Once school began, he realized that he shouldn’t judge a law school by its jungle gyms.
“There were a lot of folks willing to take a risk and be a part of something big,” he says. “We were all in it together.”
The experiences and lessons learned at Boyd Law laid the foundation for Frierson, who would go on to become Speaker of the Nevada Assembly and, now, the first Black U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada.
It was during his early days at the Boyd School of Law that he participated in his first juvenile justice clinic and made his first argument in court.
“I remember I opened my mouth and things came out that we had not rehearsed, that we had not prepared for. I was so shocked at myself,” he says. “It was the moment I knew oral advocacy was where my heart was, what my nature was, and where my career would go.”
Frierson’s decorated career would include working in civil law, serving as a law clerk under Justice Myron E. Leavitt, and working in the state attorney general’s office under future governor Brian Sandoval. His greatest honor is his current position as U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada. Being the first Black person in this role isn’t something he takes lightly.
“It’s important that offices that handle the delivery of government services, particularly justice to the community, reflect the community. For decades, I don’t know that that was the case,” Frierson says.
Although he’s the first in this position, he wants to make sure that he isn’t the last. A founding member of the Minority Law Student Association at the law school, he does outreach to similar groups to ensure everyone is considered. “I don’t recall being exposed to the U.S. District Attorney's office as a student,” Frierson says.
Where Frierson’s career takes him next, he isn’t sure.
“This is the first time in my adult life that I have one job and I can focus on that one job and make sure Nevada gets a return on its investment. This is also the first time where I don’t know what I’m going to do next,” Frierson says. “I can say that I’m happy with the legacy that I have thus far. I’m at peace with making sure I do a good job while I’m here.”