Out-of-State Students Flock
To UNLV Law School

By Valerie Miller
Las Vegas Business Press
January 30, 2004

The success of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law isn't such a well-kept secret anymore.

The law school is being bombarded with out-of-state applicants. So many, in fact, that the admissions department is facing some tough choices in its efforts to meet its mission of mostly serving the local community.

"Most of our students will be from Nevada -- seventy to eighty percent -- that's what the [university system] Board of Regents wants," says Frank Durand, assistant dean for admissions and financial aid. "Nevadans will always have a preference, but the bulk of our applicant pool is non-resident."

Hence, the problem comes in, he explains, with 1,250 out of 1,700 applicants for the fall 2003 freshman class being from out-of-state. "The majority of the applicants are competing for a small number of seats and the minority of the applicants are competing for a greater number of seats."

That numbers crunch might be even more evident this fall, if applications submitted so far are any indication, Durand adds. "March 15 is the date by which all the applications have to be in and right now we have 1,100, which means, once again, the majority of the applicants will be from out-of-state."

No that it was always that way for the school, which opened its doors in1998. "Since 2001, our pool of applicants has really started to expand. It's a testament to the great job that [UNLV Law School] Dean [Richard] Morgan has done."

Most of the applicants are from neighboring states such as Arizona, California and Utah, Durand adds.

The entering class of fall 2003 is made up of 160 enrolled students, of which 23 percent are non-residents and 77 percent are residents. For that class, 1,704 applications were submitted and 286 admissions offered, according to the school's Web site. A entering class generally consists of about 140 students.

UNLV law school grads still give the program high marks.

Christine Hu was a member of the graduating class of 2003, although she finished early. Hu, who is now working for the local firm Kolear & Leatham, has been living in Nevada for seven years but was a Chinese citizen when she first enrolled in Boyd.

"I think they definitely considered my background as a foreigner and a woman," she says of her admission to Boyd. "But I think the school still gives preference to Nevada residents. I would think the law school was primarily to benefit the community."

Hu feels she got a taste of diversity while at Boyd. "I particularly enjoyed that different people played in diverse discussions."

Now, Hu believes her knowledge of different languages is a plus for her employer. "The Asian community is growing in Las Vegas and I can be a person to help reach that market."

On the other end of the spectrum, UNLV law school grad David Gibson, Jr. came from a long line of Henderson residents when he applied at Boyd. He split his undergraduate work between Brigham Young University and UNLV.

"Most of them [fellow UNLV law students] were from Southern Nevada," he recalls. "They weren't all Nevada natives. Some had taken a year or two off [after getting their undergraduate degrees] to get Nevada residency [by living here]."

Gibson says the sheer nature of Las Vegas will insure out-of-towners will attend Boyd, whether they are considered residents. "UNLV brings so many people here from elsewhere. Las Vegas is such a melting pot."