Boyd Briefs
October 5, 2017
From Dean Dan

This week, Las Vegas was shaken to its core by an unimaginable act of violence. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families, and the first responders. The acts of kindness and outpouring of support around our city have shown the strength and compassion of both those professionals who in many cases risked their lives in responding, and all of our neighbors and friends who did so much to help. Las Vegas is our home. In times of the unthinkable, we are humbled by the sacrifices of others and heartened by the warmth, generosity, and spirit of our community.
 
As an institution, we do our best by continuing to move forward and serve the community. Today the law school welcomes the American Bar Association Forum on Entertainment and Sports Industries 2017 Annual Meeting.  This year’s meeting offers an unsurpassed selection of entertainment and sports educational programming and collegial social events for attorneys and other professionals practicing in every sector of the industry.  We thank Mark  Tratos , the founding Shareholder at Greenburg Traurig, and Leonard Glickman, Chair of the ABA Forum, for bringing the Forum to the law school as the site for the first day of their 2017 Annual Meeting.

Next week, the William S. Boyd School of Law will welcome two distinguished speakers on Thursday, October 12.

Jon Wellinghoff, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), internationally recognized energy law attorney, and clean tech energy expert, will present "The Future of Renewable Energy in Nevada: Public Policy and the  Nevada Energy Choice Initiative" at 12 p.m. in the Thomas and Mack Moot Courtroom. His talk is free and open to the public. The longest serving chair of the FERC, Jon was first nominated to be a FERC Commissioner in 2006 by President George W. Bush. He was reappointed to the Commission in 2008, and, in March of 2009, he was named Chairman by President Barack Obama. He served as chair until November 2013. Mr. Wellinghoff has over 40 years of leadership experience in federal, state, and local energy policy, regulation, and project development. I want to thank Senator Harry Reid for making this talk possible.

The Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution has a long history of bringing to our school thought-provoking lectures. On Thursday, we are delighted to welcome  Mary Roldán , the Dorothy Epstein Professor of Latin American History and Chair of the Department of History at the CUNY Hunter College. Professor Roldán will present “ War and Peace in Colombia: Conflict and Reconciliation in Historical Perspective .” She will explore the historical context of conflict in Colombia, and the challenges and possibilities of achieving the goals of reparation, reconciliation and justice embodied in the Colombian Peace Accords negotiated between the Colombian government and the FARC, Latin America’s oldest, revolutionary armed guerilla group.

Professor Roldán’s talk will take place at 5 p.m. in the Thomas & Mack Moot Courtroom. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Dan
Dean & Richard J. Morgan Professor of Law
Faculty Spotlight: Mary Beth Beazley
Mary Beth Beazley is a Professor of Law and leading Legal Writing Scholar.

Which of your recent books or articles should I read?

It would have to be the most recent one: Writing for a Mind at Work: Appellate Advocacy and the Science of Reading, 54 Duq. L. Rev. 415 (2016). This article analyzes the impact of digital platforms on how we read and how we think. I guess I would also recommend Hiding in Plain Sight: “Conspicuous Type” Standards in Mandated Communication Statutes, 40 J. LEGIS. 1 (2014). That article talks about how legislatures mandate certain language, and even certain typefaces, in some legal documents like contracts and court orders. Unfortunately, they seem to be enacting these laws without a good understanding of how human beings actually read and use documents. It’s important to understand this behavior if you are a reader or a writer, or if you legislate or write opinions about reading and writing. For example, some court opinions that apply the “least sophisticated debtor” standard seem to assume a very sophisticated reader. We know how to write and design documents for maximum comprehension – documents from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are a great example – and courts and legislatures need to hold writers to a higher standard rather than to impose higher burdens on readers.
 
How does your research and scholarship influence your teaching and service and vice versa?

My teaching and scholarship really feed into each other. In my early years of teaching, I wrote a lot about teaching methods, because legal writing was undergoing a sea change. When I started teaching (in 1983), I taught mostly about using plain language and active voice, and not very much about research or analytical structure. Now things are almost reversed. And as I observed my own behavior as a reader, reading hundreds of pages each semester, I recognized some connections between reading and law. For example, I teach my students to exploit the “natural positions of emphasis” at the beginnings and endings of documents, sections, and paragraphs. Science shows that readers subconsciously pay more attention to items at the beginning of a unit of discourse (primacy effect) and at the end (recency effect). Any politician will tell you about the impact of primacy effect on voting, and I ended up writing an article about how ballot design needs to take into account what are essentially “reader” behaviors. Likewise, I recognized that there are certain ways in which I skipped around in documents when I was researching, and that behavior was different than the way I behaved when I was reading for pleasure or when I was grading papers. Talking to students about their own behavior as readers helps them understand why they have to structure their documents in certain ways; it’s a shock to some students that their readers are inattentive and impatient; they sometimes expect their readers to be “super-readers” instead of being as human as the students are. And again, this behavioral perspective led not only to my article on ballot design, but also to the conspicuous type article. Likewise, I noticed that I behave differently with hard-copy documents than we do with digital documents. That realization led me to read scientific articles about digital documents and cognitive function. And in turn, I now share that knowledge with my students when I talk to them about how they should read, and how they should write for others.

What is it about being a law school professor that inspires or motivates you?

Like many professors, I love the lightbulb moment – seeing my students understand a concept they had never understood before. I’m delighted that I’m teaching Fall 1Ls again, because I think there’s naturally a better chance for lightbulb moments with that group. And I just love the intricacies of legal writing. I enjoy introducing first-year students to the foundational concepts, and I enjoy teaching more sophisticated concepts to upper-level students. I look forward to meeting my new students – and reuniting with former students – every semester.
Student Spotlight: William Nobriga
You're a literature guy. What is your "desert island" book?

I tend to enjoy classics in literature, which includes authors like Twain, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, and Hemingway. That being said, I would likely choose the book Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain. Twain was way ahead of his time in writing this book, which is a modern day mystery that includes a commentary on the evils of bigotry and racism. I would highly recommend it for those who haven’t read it.

Which course at Boyd has been your favorite?

I came to law school with an interest in constitutional law. So, naturally, my favorite courses have revolved around that topic. So I enjoyed both Con Law I and II. Administrative Law was likely my favorite so far because it dealt with the constitutional issues around the growing federal bureaucracy.

How did you enjoy your law firm summer?

I loved it! I was exposed to a variety of different practice areas, and I had the opportunity to work with talented, smart, and interesting attorneys. I think my writing drastically improved, as well as my knowledge of the law.

What's your mission as this year's Student Bar Association president?

First and foremost, I plan to make sure that all of the students’ needs are met throughout this academic year. Law school is a challenging and intellectually rigorous experience, and it is my goal to make sure that the students have the support they need. Further, the SBA will ensure that all the student clubs and organizations have what they need to succeed.  
Alumni Spotlight: Michiko Nozawa-Joffe ‘15
Michiko is an attorney at Las Vegas Sands Corp. 

How did Boyd School of Law help you achieve your dream?

Coming from a long line of police officers, I always considered joining the FBI as a special agent. But, as with many of my colleagues, my path changed slightly when attending law school. One thing, however, did not change: the joy of researching and investigating. This passion has translated into my work as an anti-money laundering attorney at Las Vegas Sands Corp. Here, I get to uncover financial fraud schemes and other suspicious activity that criminals may try to conduct at our casinos. Boyd Law School prepared me well for this job through its hands-on professors who truly took the time to mentor me. Time and again, I am able to rely on the skills I learned at Boyd to be an effective in-house lawyer. 

Do you have a motto and what is it?

There are a couple of proverbs that I live by every day:
First proverb (Japanese) – 下学上達 (kagakujoutatsu) which means “start from daily basic learning to high advanced learning.” Translating the kanji for my personal guidance: Don’t forget to take life’s challenges one step at a time!
Second proverb (Japanese) – 雨 垂れ石をも穿つ ( amadareishiwomougatsu) which means “constant dropping wears away a stone.” In translation: It is always easy to give up, but you will succeed if you stay persistent!

What do you enjoy in your off hours?

I like to read, connect with friends, spend time at home with my family (including my cats), and go on mini weekend vacations to California. I know many of my colleagues have demanding hours and may even have to work on weekends, so I am incredibly grateful for my stable work schedule which allows me to plan my trips and off hours in advance. 
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