UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law
Boyd Briefs
Oct. 6, 2016
UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law
From Dean Dan

The Student Bar Association hit the ground running this school year by establishing new traditions for Boyd. They have created Aloha Thursdays that not only give us a chance to don Hawaiian gear, but also to build community and spread the Aloha Spirit around the law school. Las Vegas is known as the ninth island and Boyd is a proud archipelago! The SBA has also started Fireside Chats, which give me and Mary-Ann the pleasure of hosting about 20 students at our home (photo below). These gatherings allow me to speak informally with students from all class years about the law school, answer any questions they may have, and hear what's on their minds. I plan to host several more.

Special thanks to the SBA Board of Governors for all their hard work: Keith Hightower (president), Timothy Revero (vice president, full-time), Sheila Tajbakhsh (vice president, part-time), Angela Lee (treasurer), Paige Foley (executive secretary), Robert Schmidt (4L rep PT), Marta Kurshumova (3L rep FT), Steve Jimenez (3L rep PT), Mandi Laub (2L rep FT), Carmen Gilbert (2L rep PT), Monique Jammer (1L rep FT - Section 1), Emily Meibert (1L rep FT - Section 2), and Carmen Johnson (1L rep PT).

I want to add a special recognition for our alum Colin Seale '12, who last week won both first place and the people's choice award in the Business Pitch Competition at the Governor's Conference on Business. Colin is founder and CEO of thinkLaw, a company that helps educators teach critical thinking through lessons based on legal cases. The Business Pitch Competition allows startup company professionals to win prize packages, network, and gain exposure for their venture. Tomorrow, Colin and thinkLaw will present a Voter's Rights Experience workshop at Boyd's Youth Voter Summit, organized by Professor Rachel Anderson and co-sponsored by Cheyenne High School and the UNLV Office of Student Affairs. The workshop will use real-life legal cases to teach high school students the most important aspects of voting rights. Congratulations to Colin on these and the many accomplishments that, I'm sure, are in thinkLaw's future.

Fireside Chat


Dean & Richard J. Morgan Professor of Law

Faculty Spotlight

This week and next, we will highlight the Boyd professors who teach intellectual property. Mary LaFrance is the IGT Professor of Intellectual Property Law. She specializes in domestic and international intellectual property law, including entertainment law.

What is it about being a law school professor that inspires or motivates you?
I know it sounds odd, but even as a pre-teen I thought it would be cool to be a university professor. How did I even know what that meant? There were no academics in my family. Here's my best guess: I watched a lot of television as a child, and I must have seen movies about college. I dreamed of wearing tweed and walking across a beautiful campus carrying important books. My first teaching gig was in 10th grade, when the geometry teacher assigned me to teach half the class while she taught the other.

All that television probably also explains my interest in copyright, trademarks, and entertainment law. I even wrote a commercial for Band-Aids, and my mother sent it off to Johnson & Johnson. They sent me the world's nicest rejection letter and a boxful of goodies. Who knew that years later I would be leading a class discussion on whether the term Band-Aid is generic?

Some of my first jobs were in the advertising business, and while it ticked some boxes for me creatively it could never fulfill my urge to teach and to make a difference in society. Teaching intellectual property and entertainment law means that I am always dealing with creative material. And I get to help bright, motivated students learn how to train themselves to help creative people achieve their goals. Which is pretty much how I view teaching: I create the structure and provide the materials from which my students can train themselves. I try to help them focus on what's important at each stage of the learning process, so that they can start with the basics and expand from there, because they will be teaching themselves throughout their legal careers. It's very rewarding to see what my former students are doing professionally 5, 10, or 20 years down the road.

How does your scholarship influence your teaching and service and vice versa? I am fortunate that I get to teach the same subject areas that are the focus of my research, and in some classes I even teach from my own casebooks. Both my scholarship and my teaching require me to stay current on the latest developments in my field, so my "homework" is pretty similar whether I am doing research or preparing for class. In intellectual property, the legal landscape is constantly shifting. When I gain insight into a topic through research, I like sharing those ideas in the classroom. And sometimes a class discussion will inspire a new direction in my research.

Because my personal and professional interests overlap, even my hobbies can inspire my work, and vice versa. As a long-time fan of live theatre, I have a strong interest in the legal rights of performers as well as the legal issues that arise from creative collaborations. After many years of thinking and writing about creativity and performance, I am now the regional theatre critic for TalkinBroadway.com. This has enabled me to connect even more with the local creative community. Increasingly both the Nevada Bar and the law school are reaching out to that community to offer legal assistance, and I enjoy being a part of that.

Student Spotlight

Did your middle initials preordain your earning a law degree?
It depends (the best answer to most law school questions). Growing up, I would always write out my entire name, Keith Jason Douglas Hightower. My mom takes full credit for naming me, but I share one of my middle names, Douglas, with my dad, and older brother. Even so, my mom, bursting with pride, frequently tells folks, "I always knew when I named my baby that he was going to be somebody!" Family members and friends sometimes call me J.D., but few knew that J.D. would one day earn a J.D.

You've lived, worked, and studied many places. What made you decide to come to Nevada? I decided to take a gamble on Boyd, hoping that everything I read about the law school was true. In retrospect, I can say I hit the jackpot, and I am thrilled with every new opportunity that Boyd sends my way!

Tell us about your experience with Teach for America in Hawaii. Teaching 8th graders social studies and science for five years was indeed one of the most challenging and most rewarding experiences of my life. In addition to these courses, I spent a lot of time helping my students develop their writing skills, and I always encouraged them to set goals, work hard, and defeat obstacles. In return, I learned skills that have been invaluable to my success in law school.

What are your goals as Student Bar Association President this year? My number one goal as SBA President is to foster a collaborative SBA board focused on engaging the law school community. I think we are off to a great start creating new traditions like Aloha Thursdays, Fireside Chats, Black & White on Top of the World, a new Wellness Committee, and we are just getting started!
Alumni Spotlight

Maggie is a partner with the firm of Lambrose Brown of Las Vegas. She was recently elected to a three-year term on the Boyd School of Law Alumni Chapter Board.

What advice you would give to a new colleague, Maggie? I would advise a new colleague to join legal associations, groups, committees, et cetera. As a new lawyer, it is vital that you become active in the legal community early on so that you can build relationships with other attorneys and judges. I have found that it is much easier to litigate against a lawyer who is in the same association as I am; or to appear before a judge that I have gotten to know in an informal setting such as Inns of Court.

I would also advise a new colleague to take pro bono cases early and often. My proudest accomplishment as a lawyer came from one of my pro bono cases. When I am having a difficult day, or I question why I went to law school, I think about that case and it puts a smile on my face. Working with pro bono clients has helped me maintain perspective, which is important in a high stress profession. I promise that after you take your first pro bono case. you will always want to have at least one in your caseload – and you can hold me to that!

What's the best business advice you received, and whom did it come from? The best business advice I ever received was to keep my overhead low. My mom, Laura Fitzsimmons (who also happens to be the best lawyer and businessperson I know), gave me this advice. She taught me that you do not need a fancy office or a large staff in order to be a great lawyer; and, in fact, some of the best lawyers do not have those things. Because I keep my business expenses to a minimum, I have the freedom to maintain a small caseload, which allows me the time to devote my very best efforts to each of my clients.
Community Spotlight

SVP & Chief Administration Officer at Konami Gaming, Inc., Member of the Gaming Law Advisory Board at the Boyd School of Law

Tell us about your decision to serve on the Gaming Law Advisory Board and what makes UNLV Law's mission meaningful to you. Dean Hamilton and I had several conversations about me getting involved in some capacity with the Boyd School of Law. The Dean and his staff have done a great job in getting the community involved with the school, the current students, and the alumni of Boyd. I received my master's from the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration and I have kept my eye on the progress that Boyd has made. I felt like I could possibly assist with some community involvement.

What was your first or most memorable job? My first job was at the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. I was an Agent there for four years. That position exposed me to the gaming industry and essentially shaped my career. The only jobs I've ever had have been in the gaming industry.

What advice would you give to current UNLV Law students? They have made a career path choice by attending law school, so find something in the law that you are passionate about and make a difference in your field.

What is your favorite travel destination? Amalfi Coast, Italy. I was married there, so I better say that or my wife will not be too happy with me! A bit closer to home, I love Lake Tahoe and visiting the Jersey Shore where I grew up.

Tell us about something you've read that's made a real difference to you. Jack Welch's Winning. It's a fantastic read that covers all aspects of business management. I recommend as a must read for all students and business professionals.

UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law

UNLV is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer Committed to Achieving Excellence Through Diversity.

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