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January 23, 2019

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Joe Biden speaks at gala marking UNLV law school’s 20-year anniversary

Former VP Joe Biden at UNLV Law Gala

Yasmina Chavez

Former Vice President Joe Biden pauses during his keynote address at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law 20th Anniversary Gala at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018.

Former VP Joe Biden at UNLV Law Gala

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during his keynote address at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law 20th Anniversary Gala at the Bellagio Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. The annual event serves as the school's principal scholarship fundraiser. Launch slideshow »

Upholding the rule of law in a society of rising nationalism and populism is more important than ever in today’s political climate and validates the need for higher law institutions like UNLV’s Boyd School of Law.

That’s according to former Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke this evening during the first fundraising gala for the 20-year-old Las Vegas law school.

“It’s really difficult for a law school to establish itself in such a short amount of time,” Biden said. “Thank you for what you’re doing to preserve the constitution and uphold the rule of law.”

Biden was one of nearly 60 elected officials and more than 900 law students, alumni and local leaders to gather in the Bellagio’s Grand Ballroom for a night of hors d’oeuvres, dinner, live jazz music and fundraising. All of the $700,000 raised will be used toward scholarships for future law school students.

Biden commended UNLV for its rapid rise on the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings of top law schools, where it rose to 59th this year, it’s highest-ever ranking. UNLV was also ranked first in legal writing programs, ahead of Georgetown, Arizona State, North Carolina and Wake Forest in that category.

Biden also spoke on the passing of President George H.W. Bush during his 30-minute speech, calling him “a man of enormous integrity.”

Biden, who attended Syracuse University for law school after turning down offers for Cornell and other Ivy League institutions, said getting a scholarship for the extra education single-handedly changed his future. He commended attendees, all of whom paid from $250 to $500 for dinner and many of whom gave additional donations, for fueling the future of people who will fight to stop “abuse of power.”

“You’re going to change the lives of a lot of young women and young men who are going to go on and contribute to the community,” he told donors.

“Lawyers are best-equipped to stop the abuse of power,” he added. “Nobody else is trained to do so.”

Among other politicians in attendance included Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson and Clark County Commissioner-Elect Tick Segerblom. Sandoval, who will join former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid as a Boyd distinguished fellow at the completion of his term in January, said he felt “privileged” to join the institution.

The law school currently has about 1,000 students. 2,300 students have graduated from Boyd since the school was founded in 1998, 18 of which were on the ballot for state or local offices during last month’s elections.

Daniel Hamilton, the law school’s dean, helped begin the inaugural fundraising gala in place of the annual alumni dinner. He said tonight the event helped raise record donations for the growing school. He commended visitors in attendance for preserving the future of the law school.

“This would not be possible without the vision, leadership, generosity and ambition of all the people in this room,” Hamilton said.