Lena Rieke, a magna cum laude graduate of the Boyd School of Law, says turning down a job offer from a local law firm was a difficult choice, but the right one. Law librarianship, she has discovered, provides a creative and diverse career.
Over the past decade of undergraduate and graduate studies at UNLV (’12 BA Political Science, ’17 JD), I’ve had the good fortune of watching and benefiting from the university’s and the law school’s incredible institutional growth. When an opportunity to join the law school presented itself, I knew it would be a perfect fit for me.
What about UNLV strikes you as different from other places you have worked or studied?
UNLV truly feels like a collaborative and supportive community, which is rare to find in a workplace. Since starting in my position, I have met so many folks from different departments, and they have all been extremely welcoming and immensely helpful. But I think what is most striking to me about UNLV is its commitment to providing its students with a top-quality education in a diverse and inclusive atmosphere. That might be even more rare to find than a collaborative workplace.
Where did you grow up and what was that like? What do you miss about it?
I was born and raised in Las Vegas. Most of my family has been here since the mid-1970s, so Las Vegas really is home for us. Growing up here was wonderful because there truly are so many things to do and see. My family and I spent most weekends outdoors — Mount Charleston, Red Rock Canyon, and the Valley of Fire are still some of my favorite places to visit. I find it remarkable how much Vegas has grown over the past two decades. I’m excited to see what the next two decades have in store for our city.
What is your current job title and what are a few of your duties?
I currently serve as the Wiener-Rogers Law Library Fellow and faculty advisor to the law school’s moot court team, the Society of Advocates. My duties usually vary widely from day to day, but they most consistently include assisting the law faculty and students with their research and scholastic endeavors, answering public patrons’ legal reference questions, and coordinating the law school’s four in-house moot court competitions.
What inspired you to get into your field?
The law librarians at the Wiener-Rogers Law Library inspired me. They’re some of the most knowledgeable, intelligent, and helpful individuals I’ve ever encountered. I worked as a research assistant for the library while I was in law school, and completely fell in love with law librarianship. It’s a very creative and diverse career that requires you to wear many different hats throughout the course of the day. That’s the sort of challenge I’ve always wanted in my professional life.
What is the biggest challenge in your field?
One of the biggest challenges for law librarians is assisting law students with fielding the tremendous amount of information available to them through electronic legal databases and other electronic sources. This challenge is really an extension of the challenge most educators and librarians face — how do we help students find vetted, authoritative, and reliable sources in an online environment with near-infinite amounts of information? It’s made more interesting in the legal field where lawyers are at risk of committing malpractice for relying on non-authoritative or incorrect information.
Finish this sentence, "If I couldn't work in my current field, I would like to ..."
Work in the astrophysics division at NASA. Space is fascinating, and I’d love to spend my days trying to better understand how the universe works.
Tell us about a time in your life when you have been daring.
I’m generally a pretty risk-averse person. But the thing that comes to mind is turning down a job with a law firm here in town to pursue law librarianship. It was a hard decision to make, but I’m incredibly happy with the path I chose.
Tell us about an object in your office that has significance for you.
This is not a very creative answer, but the most significant thing in my office is my law school diploma. Law school was the hardest endeavor I’ve ever undertaken, and the diploma serves as a small reminder that I can endure most challenges.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I played the sousaphone in marching band during my senior year at Shadow Ridge High School. The instrument is almost bigger than I am.