Strategic Plan Progress Report - April 2021

From December 2018 until May 2019, a group of approximately 50 University of Nebraska College of Law faculty, administrators, staff, students, and alumni met to create a strategic plan for the College of Law. The plan was finalized over the summer of 2019 and includes a new mission statement, an expression of our values, and three primary commitments, as well as specific strategies we would use to fulfill those commitments and key indicators of success. We expected to begin implementation of the plan during the 2019-20 academic year.

This Strategic Plan Progress Report is both backward- and forward-looking. It will provide a clear-eyed assessment of the progress (and lack of progress) on our three commitments to date. It also will consider what can be done to move forward, recognizing that the College is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, it assumes that some relative “normalcy” will return to the College’s operations by September 2021 and it will identify some key steps the College will take during the 2021-22 academic year to live its mission, promote its values, and fulfill its commitments to the College of Law community.

Highlights and plans

The three commitments we identified in 2019 have guided our work and will continue to do so moving forward. In the pages that follow, we present a few highlights for each commitment from the last 18 months. We also identify select goals for the next 18 months.

Commitment One: Building an inclusive and connected community

What's Happened: September 2019 - March 2021

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Diversity

Led the creation of the Nebraska Legal Diversity Council, a nonprofit involving stakeholders from law firms, corporations, government offices, nonprofits, law schools and the state bar association, dedicated to recruitment and retention of diverse legal professionals in Nebraska

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Inclusive

Developed a series of presentations to and workshops with faculty regarding inclusive pedagogy in the classroom

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Leadership

Worked in partnership with the College of Business to host Women Lead 2020, a day-long conference focused on bringing together women who lead in law, business, government and nonprofit organizations

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Library

Obtained $6 million to renovate the Schmid Law Library to build more community spaces and classrooms

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Speak Thoughtfully

Led campus-wide conversations on civil discourse and productive disagreement for Peace + Civility Week and Election Day

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Strengths

Hired an expert consultant to provide manager and team coaching related to Gallup’s Clifton Strengths assessment as well as to work throughout the academic year with staff, administrators, and studentson understanding and developing their individual strengths

What's Coming: April 2021 - September 2022

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Hiring

Develop hiring processes and plans to obtain a highly diverse applicant pool for every open position at the College of Law

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Planning

Complete and begin executing a strategic diversity and inclusion plan

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Programming

Engage in community educational programming aimed at building an inclusive community

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Recruitment

Develop and implement an innovative plan for recruitment of a diverse student body, including the exploration of outside scholarships for diverse students and the creation of an online summer institute for first-generation college students interested in the law

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Strengths

Expand the College’s Strengths program to ensure all students, faculty, and staff have the opportunity to explore how to succeed by utilizing their strengths

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Wellness

Develop a robust wellness program for students to coincide with the opening of the renovated law library

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Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, provided the opening keynote address for Women Lead 2020.

Schmid Law Library
The Schmid Law Library will undergo a $6 million renovation that will create additional community spaces and classrooms.

Commitment Two: Preparing our students for a lifetime of learning, service, and ethical leadership

What's Happening: September 2019 - March 2021

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Leadership

Launched 2L Inclusive Leadership Pilot Program – a program designed to connect 2L students with curricular and co-curricular opportunities that will help them achieve their professional goals.

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Policy

Joined the ABA Police Practices Consortium in Fall 2020 to provide opportunities to students interested in policy development with law enforcement

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Practical Experience

Received approximately $500,000 in grants to fund the Children’s Justice Clinic for another three years

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Pro Bono

Emphasized involvement in the ABA Free Legal Answers Program, resulting in national recognition by the ABA as a Pro Bono Leader for 2018, 2019, and 2020

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Research

Expanded the Schmid Research Fellows program to provide pro bono legal research for nonprofit organizations

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Service

Co-founded the Tenant Assistance Project to give students hands-on experience representing tenants in eviction proceedings, as well as researching proposed changes to landlord-tenant laws and testifying about those changes before the state legislature



What's Coming: April 2021 - September 2022

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Cultural Competency

Complete report on how to measure and track College’s success in satisfying Learning Outcome #6 related to cultural competency

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Curriculum

Actively search for professors to teach Race and the Law and to offer courses focusing on systemic racism

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Ethics

Develop ways to infuse ethics and integrity in classes beyond Professional Responsibility

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Honor Code

Complete report on developing a new Honor Code for the College of Law

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Leadership

Develop and implement a program on Inclusive Leadership that includes 1L opportunities, mandatory curriculum for upper-class students, co-curricular leadership opportunities, and faculty and staff learning opportunities

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Learning

Complete report on how to measure and track College’s success in satisfying Learning Outcome #1 related to our core educational outcomes

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Service

Develop a center or program focused on public interest and public service work – become the best place in America for students interested in public interest work and public service

students with children
The Children's Justice Clinic received additional funding and will continue to train Guardians ad litem for another three years. 

Teants Assistance Project volunteers
The Tenants Assistance Project was developed to change and improve the representation paradigm that currently exists in landlord-tenant cases.

Commitment Three: Solving vital societal problems

What's Happened: September 2019 - March 2021

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Business

Joined the College of Business in submitting a proposal to Board of Regents to begin a Law and Business major at the College of Business, which will include multiple courses taught to undergraduates by College of Law professors

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Marketing

Implemented a multipronged and wide-spread marketing and communication effort highlighting the work of individual professors, through direct mail, revamped website, and social media. Launched the campaign with focus on the work of Professors Blankley, Hurwitz, and Schutz; finalizing the campaigns for Professors Shoemaker, Medill, Berger, and Langvardt for release in Spring 2021

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Rural Reconciliation

Started the Rural Reconciliation Project, an interdisciplinary exploration of the past and future of rural areas

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Technology

Started the Nebraska Governance and Technology Center to connect research among the Colleges of Law, Business, Engineering, and Journalism, funded by over $5.5 million in grants, including hiring two new professors and two staff members to build out the Center

What's Coming: April 2021 - September 2022

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Children

Obtain permanent funding for the Children’s Justice Clinic

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Grant Funding

Encourage and assist law faculty who wish to engage in grant-funded research opportunities

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Local Issues

Evaluate and propose ways in which faculty and students can interact with Lincoln and Nebraska stakeholders to help solve local and state problems and legal issues

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Research

Strengthen and expand core programs by developing three-year strategic plans to grow funding and research opportunities for the Nebraska Governance and Technology Center, the Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Program, Law & Psychology, the Rural Reconciliation Program, and the Law+Business Program

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Trade

Hire a Yeutter Chair in Law as part of our commitment to the Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance

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Professors from the College of Law, including Professor Catherine Wilson, provide instruction to undergraduates in the Law and Business minor, and will also support the Law and Business major.

Professor Shoemaker on a dirt road
Professor Jessica Shoemaker and Associate Dean Anthony Schutz launched the Rural Reconciliation Project, an interdisciplinary initiatve aimed at supporting future rural practices through an honest and critical assessment of the past.

Appendix

See the below for specific accomplishments from the past 18 months (identified in red) and for specific goals for the next 18 months (identified in italics).

Commitment One Appendix  Commitment Two Appendix  Commitment Three Appendix

Commitment One: Building an inclusive and connected community

Strategies:

  • Attract and retain a diverse Nebraska Law community of students, faculty, administrators, and staff committed to excellence in academics, service, and character

    • Our commitment to diversity has allowed us to attract an increasingly diverse pool faculty, staff, and administrators at the law school, including

      • Welcoming multiple Black and Hispanic/Latino individuals to the College staff

      • Black faculty members recognized as Distinguished Fellows and serving in senior academic leadership roles

      • Multiple offers extended to Black faculty candidates to join our faculty

    • Created and executed a plan for specific outreach and recruitment of prospective law students of color

    • Led the creation of the Nebraska Legal Diversity Council, a nonprofit involving stakeholders from law firms, corporations, government offices, nonprofits, law schools, and the state bar association, dedicated to recruitment and retention of diverse legal professionals to Nebraska

    • Submitted proposal to Board of Regents to begin a Law and Business major at the College of Business

    • Deepened relationships with multicultural undergraduate student groups at UNL, UNK, and UNO

    • Develop hiring processes and plans to obtain a highly diverse applicant pool for every open position at the College of Law

    • Develop and implement a robust plan for recruitment of a diverse student body

  • Support the personal and professional development of Nebraska Law employees

    • Hired an expert consultant to provide manager and team coaching related to the Gallup Strengths assessment as well as to work throughout the academic year with staff, administrators, and students on understanding and developing their individual strengths

    • Created a Gallup Strengths Advisor group of trained staff and faculty to help the College of Law become a Strengths-Based institution

    • Incentivized faculty to take an online teaching course to prepare for teaching during the pandemic; over 80% completed the course during the summer of 2020

    • Expand Clifton Strengths program to ensure all students, faculty, and staff have the opportunity to explore how to succeed by utilizing their strengths
  • Develop and implement programming and policies designed to address well-being in the Nebraska Law community
    • Connected with University resources and psychological counseling, including having a regular time for a counselor to meet with law students

    • Law student counselors have received wellness training offered by UNL Student Affairs

    • Develop a robust wellness program, and dedicated wellness space, for students to coincide with the opening of the renovated law library
    • Examine leave and work-from-home policies that may enhance work-life balance and decrease any systemic gender biases perpetuated by traditional work models
    • Explore ways in which strengths exploration and activities can help reduce anxiety and foster a growth mindset
  • Create new, or take advantage of existing, opportunities to connect faculty, students, administrators, staff, and alumni to the broader University of Nebraska community
    • Developed a regular weekly speaker series (“Three Points in .3”) that promotes the great work being done at the College through faculty and administrator presentations on interesting and current topics

    • Worked in partnership with the College of Business to host Women Lead 2020, a day-long conference focused on bringing together women who lead in law, business, government and nonprofit organizations 

    • Lead campus-wide conversations on civil discourse and productive disagreement for Peace + Civility Week and Election Day

  • Foster an environment that is inclusive, cooperative, and promotes respectful professional relationships among the entire Nebraska Law community
    • Held small-group discussions with faculty and staff to discuss issues of racial justice, including a reading series

    • Developed a series of presentations to and workshops with faculty regarding inclusive pedagogy in the classroom

    • Created public displays and signage about Nebraska Law values and infused public statements and speeches from the dean with discussions about our values

    • Obtained $6 million in funding to renovate the Schmid Law Library to build more community spaces and classrooms

    • CDO collaborated with OUTLaw student organization to identify speakers for program offering advice and insights on interviewing and working in NE while LGBTQIA+

    • Develop a strategic diversity and inclusion plan
    • Engage in community educational programming aimed at building an inclusive community

Commitment Two: Preparing our students for a lifetime of learning, service, and ethical leadership

Strategies:
The College worked to maintain its commitment to providing foundational legal education, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

  • Ensure that every Nebraska Law graduate acquires the foundational knowledge and understanding necessary to work successfully with clients from diverse backgrounds and cultures, and to collaborate successfully with other professions and professionals;

    • Maintain and strengthen our core curriculum as a crucial foundation;

    • Emphasize ethics, integrity, and leadership throughout our educational program;

    • Prioritized in-person 1L courses when the pandemic reduced our classroom capacity by 75% and many courses were forced online

    • Added significant learning modules related to racial justice and systemic racism to numerous classes across the curriculum

    • Changed focus and emphasis of legal writing to include specific work on legal analysis and legal research; expanded the role of librarians in teaching extensive legal research skills to 1Ls; reoriented LAWR course to enhance consistency and rigor across sections

    • Assigned the teaching of core litigation courses (trial advocacy, pretrial litigation) to in-house, full-time clinical faculty to provide greater consistency to the courses

    • Obtained $6 million in funding to renovate the Schmid Law Library to enhance the teaching of digital legal research

    • Develop and implement a program on Inclusive Leadership that includes 1L opportunities, mandatory curriculum for upper-class students, co-curricular leadership opportunities, and faculty and staff learning opportunities

    • As positions open, hire new faculty with outstanding records and diverse perspectives

    • Actively search for professors to teach Race and the Law and courses focusing on systemic racism

    • Develop ways to infuse ethics and integrity in classes beyond Professional Responsibility

    • Complete report on developing a new Honor Code for the College of Law

    • Complete report on how to measure and track College’s success in satisfying Learning Outcome #1 related to our core educational outcomes (Learning Outcome #1: A Nebraska Law graduate will acquire a broad-based knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law along with the legal, analytical reasoning, and complex problem solving skills necessary to apply this knowledge in professional work)

    • Complete report on how to measure and track College’s success in satisfying Learning Outcome #6 related to cultural competency (Learning Outcome #6: A Nebraska Law graduate will acquire the foundational knowledge and understanding necessary to work successfully with clients from diverse backgrounds and cultures, and to collaborate successfully with other professions and professionals)

  • Encourage and empower students to co-create their educational program through heightened connections and communication between and amongst students, advisors, faculty, alumni, practitioners, and other professionals;

    • Expanded alumni mentoring program to include over 130 alumni-student mentoring teams

    • Launched 2L Inclusive Leadership Pilot Program – a program designed to connect 2L students with curricular and co-curricular opportunities that will help them achieve their professional goals.

    • Expand, coordinate, and maximize active, including experiential, learning opportunities to make them central to a Nebraska Law education;

    • Changed faculty rule to double the amount of externship credits students could take before graduation

    • Joined the Police Practices Initiative in Fall 2020 to provide opportunities to students interested in policy development with law enforcement

    • Received approximately $500,000 in grants to fund the Children’s Justice Clinic for another three years

    • Co-founded the Tenant Assistance Project to give students hands-on experience researching cases and representing tenants in eviction cases, as well as researching proposed changes to landlord-tenant laws and testifying about those changes before the state legislature

    • Developed an Estate Planning Clinic to be taught regularly during the summer

  • Develop a coordinated program focused on encouraging and supporting students who desire to work in public service or for a public interest organization; 

    • Expanded opportunities and support for those interested in post-graduate fellowships with a public interest organization

    • Develop a Center or Program focused on Public Interest and Public Service work – become the best place in America for students interested in public interest work

  • Expand opportunities for students, faculty, administrators, and staff to engage in community service and pro bono representation;

    • Co-founded the Tenant Assistance Project to give students hands-on experience researching cases and representing tenants in eviction cases, as well as researching proposed changes to landlord-tenant laws and testifying about those changes before the state legislature

    • Emphasized involvement in the ABA Free Legal Answers Program, resulting in national recognition by the ABA as a Pro Bono Leader for 2018, 2019, and 2020

    • Expanded the Schmid Research Fellows program to provide pro bono legal research for nonprofit organizations

    • Continue to offer to all law students, regardless of their class year, an opportunity to be involved in the Immigration Clinic’s annual naturalization clinic, which assists those who are interested in becoming U.S. citizens

  • Explore requiring substantial small-group training for all students in professional skills including client counseling, negotiation, effective communication, leadership, wellness, and technology.

    • Developed 2L Inclusive Leadership Pilot program related to leadership and professional development, enrolled 20 2Ls in each of the last two academic years

    • Embrace the Clifton Strengths program to become a Strengths-based Institution

Commitment Three: Solving vital societal problems

Strategies:

  • Leverage our location within a major research university in the capital of an entrepreneurial and globally connected state to foster alignment between Nebraska Law research and community needs;

    • Started the Nebraska Governance and Technology Center to connect research among the Colleges of Law, Business, Engineering, and Journalism, funded by over $5.5 million in grants

    • Started the Rural Reconciliation Project, an interdisciplinary exploration of the past and future of rural areas

    • Implemented public policy curriculum as part of the Civil Clinic in which students research and testify on potential legislation before the Unicameral; students testified numerous times during the last two years

    • Raised $6 million to renovate the Schmid Law Library

    • Obtain permanent funding for the Children’s Justice Clinic

    • Evaluate and propose ways in which faculty and students can interact with Lincoln and Nebraska stakeholders to help solve local and state problems and legal issues

  • Establish a national reputation for expertise and research excellence, particularly in our areas of national and international prominence, such as:

    • Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications;

      • Hosted a conference in partnership with U.S. Strategic Command for active military and civilians to discuss “Law and Global Warfighting: The Challenges in 21st Century Practice”

      • Hosted 12th Annual Space Law Conference in D.C., bringing together 200 industry leaders and practitioners, students and media to discuss “Global Perspectives on Space Law and Policy”

    • Law & Psychology; and
    • The Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance
  • Explore and evaluate the feasibility of developing new programs including Technology Governance and Law & Business that strengthen our commitment to confront and solve vital societal problems;

    • Opened the Nebraska Governance and Technology Center

    • Submitted proposal to Board of Regents to begin a Law and Business major at the College of Business

    • Strengthen and expand core programs:
      • Nebraska Governance and Technology Center
        • Develop three-year strategic plan to grow funding and research opportunities
      • Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law Program
        • Develop three-year strategic plan to grow funding and research opportunities
        • Develop plans to grow enrollment, particularly in the online environment
      • Yeutter Institute
        • Hire a Yeutter Chair in Law
      • Rural Reconciliation Project
        • Develop three-year strategic plan to grow funding and research opportunities
      • Law and Psychology
        • Work with Chair of Psychology Department and Director of Law & Psychology Program to create three-year strategy for enhancing the College's presence and participation in the Program
      • Law and Business
        • Develop three-year strategic plan to grow funding and research opportunities
  • Bolster the faculty's ability to approach problems nimbly, through diverse methodologies and scholarship formats;

    • The Nebraska Governance and Technology Center is developing multimedia content, including their Tech Refactored podcast, to bring interdisciplinary faculty research to regional and national communities.

  • Develop an internal Nebraska Law culture that emphasizes scholarship;
    • Host Vice Chancellor for Research to discuss with faculty ways in which law faculty can engage in grant-funded research opportunities
    • Invite UNL professors from across campus to present law-related scholarship to law faculty in a colloquia setting
    • Produce monthly report on faculty scholarship for distribution through newsletter or at faculty meeting to share information about faculty successes
  • Promote and increase the impact of our scholarship through enhanced outreach to the widest possible audience including our stakeholders and the media.
    • Implemented a multipronged and wide-spread marketing and communication effort highlighting the work of individual professors, through direct mail and email, dedicated website, and social media. Launched the campaign with focus on the work of Professors Blankley, Hurwitz, and Schutz; finalizing the\campaigns for Professors Shoemaker, Medill, Berger, and Langvardt for release in Spring 2021

    • Continue promotion campaign focusing on the impact of professor scholarship
    • Hire librarian to assist in measuring, cataloging and explaining impact of faculty scholarship
    • Create systemic and comprehensive means by which faculty can report their accomplishments and work
    • Hire a staff member charged with external communications and outreach specific to the Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law program.