GIVING BACK: Connecting People, Serving Community
Boyd Law names Community Service Program in honor of retired Associate Dean Christine Smith
Jean Whitney, William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV emerita professor, calls founding Associate Dean Christine Smith a “Connector Extraordinaire.”
It’s a title that befits someone who capped her 25-year career at Boyd Law in June as associate dean for public service, compliance, and administration. Yet retirement from UNLV is not a step back from community service for Smith, not in the least. Instead, she is continuing to help people all over the region as the new director of community initiatives and outreach for the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.
“I think one of my strengths is that I remember people,” says Smith, who came to Las Vegas with Founding Dean Dick Morgan in 1997 from Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Her final position at ASU’s law school, where she had worked since 1976, was assistant dean of student services.
Communication goes hand-in-hand with public service, and after a two-week vacation in September, Smith had 50 requests for help coordinating a legal aid presence at various Clark County community events later in the year. Since 1998, she connected Boyd Law students to one of her top priorities—pro-bono work—through free weekly Community Legal Education classes that students were required to teach under the supervision of local attorneys.
“I’m amazed by the number of Boyd grads who are recognized for their pro-bono work,” she says of the law school’s program, run in partnership with both the Legal Aid Center and Nevada Legal Services. It has helped more than 76,000 Nevadans gain access to free legal assistance. “It’s their responsibility to give back and help people.”
Smith also developed the Partners in Pro Bono and Pro Bono Honors Program at the law school to enhance these valuable networking opportunities for students in the community.
To boost the effort, Boyd School of Law officials renamed the Community Service Program the Christine Smith Community Service Program and named one Public Interest Fellow after Smith to recognize her professional contributions to students.