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Dean's Column: Law School Resources for the Small Firm and Solo Practitioners

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STATE BAR OF NEVADA
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Nevada Lawyer Magazine
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“For the small firm or solo practitioner, the law school’s education programs offer an inexpensive way to earn CLE credits, identify experts – practitioners and academics alike – and network with other attorneys.”
Dean’s Column
BY GuEST COLuMNISTS PROF. JEANNE PRICE AND PROF. CHRISTINE SMITH
laW sCHool resoUrCes For tHe sMall FirM anD solo praCtitioner
If the benefits of solo or small firm practice are easily recognizable – independence and flexibility are the most obvious – so are the challenges. Attorneys who work for the government or in large to mid-size firms have access (often without leaving the office) to a variety of resources that support research and ongoing education. The small firm or solo practitioner, on the other hand, is more likely to have to seek out those resources. Identifying what is available in the marketplace and the costs associated with those services may occupy a greater percentage of the attorney’s time than anticipated. Most Nevada attorneys are familiar with the Boyd School of Law’s commitment to community and public service, especially as demonstrated by the law school’s clinics, externships and community education programs. What they may be less aware of is the variety of services and resources the law school makes available to Nevada attorneys; many of these services may be especially useful to the small firm and solo practitioner. Over the course of a year, the law school offers more than 50 hours of continuing legal education credits on topics ranging from family law and bankruptcy to mediation and intellectual property. These programs bring together Boyd faculty members with local and nationally-recognized experts in diverse fields, often bridging disciplines and creating opportunities for collaboration. For the small firm or solo practitioner, the law school’s education programs offer an inexpensive way to earn CLE credits, identify experts – practitioners and academics alike – and network with other attorneys. Accompanying each program is a research guide prepared by the librarians at the Wiener-Rogers Law Library; these guides are collected and made publicly available on the law library’s website. Small firms or solo practitioners may rely on the small number of research resources that are readily available to them. But, from time to time, there will inevitably arise a need for information that lies outside of commonly available sources. Moreover, interdisciplinary materials, as well as data and statistics, are increasingly useful in law practice. In all of these circumstances, practitioners – those who practice in large and small settings alike – should remember that the Wiener-Rogers Law Library’s collections (both digital and print) are open to the public. Anyone who visits the library has access to the kind of sophisticated research databases used in practice. From Omnitax, a database covering federal, state and international taxation of all kinds, to BNA, a comprehensive digital library of current information on topics as diverse as labor and employment, ecommerce, and environmental, real estate and health law, the law library’s digital resources allow attorneys to access commentary and analysis on issues routinely encountered in practice. Many of these digital resources include sample agreements and forms of documents, as well as practice suggestions and check-lists that apply to particular types of transactions or litigation. The library’s digital collections also include all federal congressional documents (hearings, committee reports, debate transcripts, etc.) from the founding of the country forward to the present. Public versions of Westlaw and Lexis may also be accessed through the law library. While the commercial resources acquired by the law library bring a world of practice-oriented information to attorneys, the law school’s Scholarly Commons (scholars.law.unlv.edu) makes faculty and other academic scholarship available to the world. The Scholarly Commons represents at least some of the work product of the law school; it enables us to share our faculty’s and students’ expertise. The full text of articles authored by faculty are publicly and freely available on the Scholarly Commons, as are issues of the law school’s two law reviews – The Nevada Law Journal and the UNLV Gaming Law Journal (co-published with the International Masters of Gaming Law). Proceedings of some conferences held at the law school may be viewed on the Scholarly Commons and bibliographies of resources on particular topics are available for download. No matter how comprehensive the library’s collections are, they are of little use unless researchers – both those who visit the library and those who use our resources remotely – can find the precise information they need. Librarians at the Wiener-Rogers Law Library are available, in person, by e-mail or by phone, to direct attorneys to resources that are likely to answer their questions, and can assist in locating information no matter where it may reside.
36 Nevada Lawyer
January 2013
The heart of the law school, of course, lies in our students, and they provide one more source of support for the small firm and solo practitioner. Boyd students have the benefit of participating in the nationallyrecognized Lawyering Process Program. In the first year, program participants focus on predictive and persuasive writing, research and professionalism; in the upper-level courses, students have several options and may choose to focus on, among other topics, transactional drafting, advocacy, client counseling or negotiation. Students are eager to put these skills, together with the knowledge gained from doctrinal courses, to work in clerkships and externship programs. The law school’s Career Development Office (www.law. unlv.edu/careers/home) can help attorneys identify interested and able students with fresh perspectives, a strong grounding in lawyering skills and familiarity with new technologies and research tools. The law school can help solo and small firm lawyers realize all the benefits of independent practice in a small setting. Whether through its educational programs, its work in the community, its publicly available resources or its best ambassadors: Boyd students, the law school provides a setting and context that can help small firm attorneys do their very best work. We encourage attorneys to visit the law school’s website (www.law.unlv.edu) to learn more about our events, programs and resources.
PRoF. JEANNE PRICE is the Director of the Wiener-Rogers Law Library and an associate professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law. Price joined Boyd in 2008, after serving as the associate director of the law library and lecturer at the University of Texas School of Law. A member of the Texas bar, Price practiced corporate and securities law in Houston and overseas for nearly 10 years. Her undergraduate degree is from Yale and her law degree from the University of Texas. PRoF. ChRISTINE SMITh is the Associate Dean for Administration and External Relations at the William S. Boyd School of Law. She has served as the associate dean since the founding of the law school. Prior to joining Boyd, Smith served as the Assistant Dean of Student Services at Arizona State University College of Law. She has a bachelor’s in marketing from Arizona State University and a master’s degree from Northern Arizona University.
January 2013
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