Health Law Teaching Spotlight: Sara Gordon - Putting the Health in Health Law

January 16, 2018

As it's become increasingly clear that substance abuse is much more of a health problem than a legal problem, Prof. Gordon’s Mental Health Law students become well-versed in key medical responses to drug abuse. For a recent class, she worked with the Lincy Institute at UNLV to provide students with training in “SBIRT,” or “Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment for Substance Use.” During several intensive workshops, students learned a universal screening tool for quickly assessing the severity of alcohol and drug use, misuse, and abuse, and received instruction on how to connect clients who have a possible substance use disorder to specialized treatment and follow-up services in the community.

Prof. Gordon’s course, the first one in mental health law at UNLV, focuses on current national trends in civil and criminal aspects of mental health law, as well as issues specific to Nevada. This is one of Prof. Gordon’s favorite courses to teach, largely because the nature of the subject allows her to incorporate a variety of different teaching methods. In addition to exploring state and federal laws related to mental health, she invites a wide range of guest speakers in order to give students an idea of the many different way in which mental health issues can arise in a law practice. In various semesters, students have heard from a psychiatrist, a psychiatric nurse, a public defender, district court judges, and the general counsel of the Southern Nevada Health District. Prof. Gordon also asks students to attend a session of the Eighth Judicial District Court Mental Health Specialty Court.