Alan Tomkins

Professor of Law

215 Centennial Mall South, Suite 401
(402)472-5688 | Email


Because of his work with the Policy Center, Professor Tomkins is not currently teaching any courses at the Law College. However, he does supervise law students who serve as research assistants at the Policy Center, and he invites interested law students to contact him to check on current opportunities for funded internships or assistantships.


Professor Tomkins joined the UNL Law/Psychology Program in 1986. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston University with a joint major in psychology and philosophy. He then attended Washington University in St. Louis, graduating in 1984 with a J.D. and Ph.D. in social psychology. Prior to coming to Nebraska, Professor Tomkins was affiliated with the Department of Psychology at St. Louis University, the Community-Clinical Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Research Division of the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C. In 1997, Professor Tomkins taught a course in the Department of Psychology at Yonsei University (Seoul, Korea) and served as a Visiting Scholar at the University at of Southampton Faculty of Law (England). In 2005-06, Tomkins was one of two inaugural William J. Clinton Distinguished Fellows, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. He currently serves as Director of the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, a position he has held since the PPC's inception in July 1998.

Over the years, Professor Tomkins has studied disposition decisions in the juvenile justice system and has written about how psycholegal examinations of juvenile justice issues allow the identification of institutional policies and practices that can promote the safety and welfare of delinquent youths. In addition, he has written about violence and risk assessment, decision-making about acceptable risk, discrimination in the justice system and elsewhere in society, public trust and confidence in the courts, child maltreatment decision-making, and the use of social science evidence in the courts. He also is interested in the use of therapeutic jurisprudence to guide research and analyses of mental health/justice systems interactions. At the NU Public Policy Center, Professor Tomkins research interests are focused on public participation and its implications for democracy in policymaking, public trust and confidence in government (especially the courts), the interplay between policies and behaviors, behavioral health systems of care and related practices and policies, program evaluation, and examining issues of justice and fairness in natural resources (especially water resources) contexts. In addition, he is involved in the Center's work on a judicial restructuring project (looking at possible changes to the boundaries of judicial districts, authority of the courts to create and/or reassign judgeships, utilize technology to make the courts more efficient, etc.) and the on-going Minority Justice Project; both of these judicial projects are being conducted under the auspices of the Nebraska State Bar Association in partnership with the courts and other key stakeholders.