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Las Vegas Alumni Take Giving Back to Heart

Though more than 1,000 miles and three time zones away, Las Vegas, Nevada is home to a growing number of College of Law alumni.  Last year the development office and UC Law’s Dean Louis Bilionis visited Las Vegas to renew contact with this growing cadre of alumni who now call this city home.  The group, drawn together by their profession and their alma mater, felt a professional duty to give back to the legal profession.  Together, they hope to encourage more students from Nevada to consider the College of Law and to encourage more College of Law students to seek work in the West.

Malani L. Kotchka '77, unofficial spokesperson for this project, went west right after earning her degree from the law school.  Her first job took her to Phoenix, but she soon moved to Las Vegas where she started her own labor and employment law firm—Smith & Kotchka.  There, she represented both public and private sector employers. During her legal career she has represented employers before the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Department of Labor, the Nevada Employee-Management Relations Board, the Nevada Equal Rights Commission, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Kotchka has also developed a strong practice in employment advice in safety and industrial insurance compensation matters before Nevada hearing officers, appeals officers, regulatory agencies, the OSHA Review Board and before the courts, where she represents only employers.

Perhaps, most importantly, she has been instrumental in helping other College of Law graduates make their way out west by hiring a “fair share” of them.

Reflecting upon how helpful scholarships were to her when she was in law school, Kotchka commented “Law school has changed a lot since I graduated.  Back then a student could pay for school and living expenses by working a side job.  But today the cost of law school has risen so much that without scholarships students cannot avoid taking on tremendous debt.” 


A Scholarship Is Born

The idea to create a scholarship fund was born during a UC Law-Las Vegas alumni event several years ago; last year the program was finalized. “We wanted to give back,” said Kotchka. “We favored a scholarship because it would benefit a human being. Specifically, we wanted to directly help a student attend the College of Law.”

The group worked with the UC Law development office to set up the fund and develop the criteria. The funding options were quite flexible—including both one time gifts and ongoing contributions.  Today, the scholarship is in place and the first award will go to a first year student entering in 2011.

For more information about how you can set up a scholarship fund, contact Karen Sieber, Senior Director of Development, at the University of Cincinnati College of Law Development Office. 


“Without scholarships students cannot avoid taking on tremendous debt.”    Malina Kotchka