A changing technological landscape, and a vibrant economy await the newest graduates of UNLV’s Boyd School of Law.
“This is an exciting time to enter the legal profession,” Gov. Brian Sandoval told the graduates during their Friday morning commencement ceremony at UNLV. “I think practicing law is going to be a little different for you than it has been for me.”
Sandoval was the keynote speaker for the event, jump starting his new relationship with the law school — a distinguished fellow in law and policy — which he will after once his tenure as governor ends in January. He last addressed graduates of the law school in 2012, when the state was facing a “different set of circumstances,” he said.
“A new Nevada has emerged,” he said. “Our economy is stronger, and more diverse. And we have taken important steps to strengthen education, expand access to health care, and advance higher education.”
Sandoval said technology like artificial intelligence, driverless cars, drones, blockchain and the internet of things will impact the day-to-day lives of Nevadans and the way lawyers litigate.
“You’re joining the legal profession at a time when there are profound changes happening in our world around us, and I believe those changes will have a seismic effect on our jurisprudence as well,” he said, adding that these budding lawyers will play an important role in how case law and precedent evolve during the “fourth Industrial Revolution.”
As chairman of the National Governors Association, Sandoval developed an initiative called “Ahead of the Curve,” which highlights how governors and states can stay ahead of rapidly advancing technologies.
“You have the opportunity to be the pioneers in this new area of law that’s going to emerge — you will shape the legal landscape,” he said. “You will introduce new ideas and perspectives and make your marks on the judicial system as it develops in this new age of discovery in ways that the great legal scholars could have never imagined.”
Along with this opportunity, Sandoval told the graduates that they have a “special duty” to serve the communities where they live, and find ways to make them better.
He said for some, becoming a lawyer equates to prestige and privilege, but cautioned the new graduates that this quest is “fool’s good,” and is one that never satisfies.
“Success is not a bad thing, but remember, the measure of your success is not about the number of hours you bill, the number of cases you win, the car you drive, or the house you buy,” he said.
Instead, he told the graduates that they have a unique ability to respond when they see injustice.
“Even with the advent of technology, there are far too many people who will be left behind,” he said. “You are in a position to defend those who cannot defend themselves, to speak on behalf of the vulnerable, and the disabled, and to fight for causes you believe in even when, and especially when, they’re not popular.”