2020 Palladium Honoree: Sam and Lexy Lionel

Lexy and Sam Lionel pose for a photograph with Senator Harry Reid (seated) with his wife, Landra.
Exterior shot of the William S. Boyd School of Law
Sep. 30, 2020

Each year, the UNLV Foundation honors donors whose lifetime giving to UNLV has reached $1 million or more with the Palladium Award. Honorees are recognized at the UNLV Foundation Annual Dinner, a tradition that began more than 25 years ago. Because of COVID-19, the 2020 Annual Dinner has been postponed but we look forward to celebrating this year's Palladium Awardees when we can gather together once again.

Samuel Lionel has a long and illustrious history of bolstering Nevada’s legal community. Now he and his wife, Lexy Lionel, have created a philanthropic legacy that will support future generations of legal scholars in perpetuity at the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV.

The Lionels established the Reid-Lionel Scholarship Endowment in 2019 through a $1 million gift to UNLV’s Boyd School of Law. The award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and Sam Lionel. 

Previously, the Lionels funded the Samuel Lionel Professorship in Intellectual Property, a position currently held by Boyd School of Law professor Marketa Trimble, as well as the LaFrance-Trimble Award, named for Professor Trimble and UNLV Boyd colleague Mary LaFrance. Before it closed in 2015, the law firm Lionel Sawyers & Collins, of which Sam Lionel was a founding partner, funded and named the law school’s Nevada Law Journal Room.

Attorney Sam Lionel moved to Las Vegas and passed the Nevada bar in 1954. He earned a law degree from St. John’s University in New York, served in the U.S. Army in Europe in WWII, and taught law at West Point — all before moving west. He partnered with former Nevada governor Grant Sawyer and Nevada Supreme Court Justice Jon Collins to create Lionel Sawyers & Collins. For nearly 50 years, the iconic law firm employed hundreds of attorneys and represented Nevada’s most influential clients. 

Known as the “Dean of the Nevada Bar,” Sam served for 30 years on the Nevada Board of Bar Examiners. He has been an unfaltering supporter of the Boyd School of Law since the school’s inception in 1998, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by UNLV in 2013.

Lexy Lionel is the founder and owner of the award-winning company, Nannies & Housekeepers USA. The Las Vegas-based firm has served corporate and individual clients since its founding in 2000, and was named Agency of the Year by the national Association of Premier Nanny Agencies. Raised in Minnesota, Lexy moved to Las Vegas from California in 1988. She and Sam married in 2013.

“UNLV was important to Sam and it became important to me,” says Lexy, whose enthusiasm for  UNLV’s Boyd School of Law was cinched when Dean Dan Hamilton invited her and her husband to join him on the podium for the school’s annual scholarship awards ceremony.

“When you can see the face of someone whose life you have really impacted, the reward is endless,” she says.

“The law school has come a long way,” adds Sam. “We’re proud of it, and many of us remain dedicated to its future success.”

Marian Alper

*Attorney Samuel Lionel (second from left) and his wife Lexy (left) have endowed a law scholarship named for Lionel and former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (pictured seated with his wife,  Landra Gould Reid).