Sydney Hayes Lecturer, Assistant Director of the First Amendment Clinic
Sydney Hayes joined the faculty in 2023 as the Assistant Director of the First Amendment Clinic. Prior to joining the University, she was a commercial litigation and alternative dispute resolution associate at Husch Blackwell in Omaha, Nebraska. She has experience in litigation involving complex constitutional issues and business disputes, among others. In addition to her work with the University she continues to practice at the Law Office of Daniel Gutman. Her practice focuses on civil rights, election, and ballot initiative issues.
Sydney received bachelors of arts degrees in Political Science and Criminal Justice from the University of South Dakota. She graduated with highest distinction and Order of the Coif from the University of Nebraska College of Law.
Danielle C. Jefferis Assistant Professor of Law
Professor Jefferis’s research focuses on theories of punishment and the law and policy governing prison and detention, with an emphasis on the for-profit prison industry and immigration-related confinement. She takes both critical and comparative approaches to her work, looking at carceral systems, practices, and theories around the world. Professor Jefferis has presented her research at Harvard Law School, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Denver College of Law, Loyola University School of Law, Louisiana State University Law, the Australian National University, London University, Amsterdam Law School, the University of Lisbon, and Leiden University, among others. She has provided expert commentary on prison and detention issues for national and international media outlets, including VICE, Mother Jones, and NowThis, and has been solicited as an amicus curiae for cases involving prison law and prisoners’ rights in courts around the country.
Professor Jefferis’s scholarship is informed by her unique teaching and practice experience, which lie at the intersection of constitutional law and prisoners’ rights, immigration law, and federal courts. She has extensive civil rights litigation experience and has represented plaintiffs in federal courts across the country, including in the United States Supreme Court. She has taken several cases to trial and successfully litigated numerous appeals. In 2018, she was a member of a team of clinic faculty and student attorneys that successfully challenged the constitutionality of a federal prisoner’s convictions, resulting in his release from prison. One of her most memorable moments as an attorney and teacher was witnessing her client reunite with his family after being separated from them for more than a decade.
Prior to joining the Nebraska Law faculty, Professor Jefferis taught at California Western School of Law in San Diego and in the Civil Rights Clinic at the University of Denver College of Law. Before entering academia, she was the Nadine Strossen Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project in New York and an associate attorney with a boutique civil rights firm in Colorado. Professor Jefferis also clerked for the now-retired Honorable Gale T. Miller of the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Brandon J. Johnson Assistant Professor of Law
Professor Johnson’s research sits at the intersection of administrative law, the separation of powers, and the law of democracy. His writing focuses on the ways democratic institutions, including Congress, the Presidency, and the Administrative State interact, and the ways in which the courts attempt to shape those interactions. Professor Johnson’s articles and essays have appeared in nationally recognized publications including Wake Forest Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, Boston University Law Review, and the Harvard Law Review Blog. Professor Johnson will be teaching courses on Administrative Law, Civil Procedure, and Election Law.
Prior to joining the faculty at the College of Law in 2023, Professor Johnson served for two years as an Acting Assistant Professor in NYU’s Lawyering Program. Before beginning his career in academia Professor Johnson practiced as a litigation associate at Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago, where he worked primarily on white collar investigations, and clerked for the Hon. Michael Y. Scudder on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Professor Johnson has a Master’s Degree in Classical Theatre from Kingston University London, and obtained his J.D. summa cum laude from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law in 2018 where he was also elected as a member of the Order of the Coif.
Roger W. Kirst Henry M. Grether Professor of Law Emeritus
Professor Kirst joined the faculty in 1974 and is a Professor of Law. In 1970 he received his J.D. degree from Stanford Law School where he served as a member of the Stanford Law Review. He was admitted to the New York Bar in 1971 and the Nebraska Bar in 1974. He was employed as an associate by a New York City law firm from 1970-71 and served in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps from 1971-74. Professor Kirst teaches Civil Procedure, Evidence and Civil Rights Litigation. He is the Reporter for the Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Practice and Procedure and a member of the Federal Practice Committee for the District of Nebraska.
Jane Langan Mach Adjunct Law Professor
John P. Lenich Earl Dunlap Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus
Professor Lenich joined the faculty of the College of Law in 1984 and taught for 36 years before retiring in 2019. Among the courses he taught were Antitrust, Appellate Advocacy, Federal Courts, Civil Procedure, and Remedies. He also served as the Coach of the College’s National Moot Court Team from 1988 to 2007, as the Faculty Advisor to the Nebraska Moot Court Board from 1994 to 2002, and as a Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs from 2017 to 2018.
Despite his retirement, Lenich remains active in the Bar and the University. He currently serves as the Reporter for Civil Procedure for the Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Practice and Procedure and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Lincoln Bar Association. He also serves as the Hearing Board Chair for the UNL Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance.
Lenich grew up on the South Side of Chicago, where he attended elementary and high school. More than once, however, he skipped school so that he could take in a White Sox game at Comiskey Park. After graduating from law school, Lenich practiced law with the Los Angeles firm of O’Melveny & Myers where he specialized in antitrust and energy litigation. He became a Husker fan shortly after he joined the faculty and has remained a fan (although a disappointed one) to this day.
Kevin Ruser Richard and Margaret Larson Professor of Law and M.S. Hevelone Professor of Law
Professor Ruser joined the Law College faculty in June, 1985, as a supervising attorney in the Civil Clinical Law Program. He received a B.A. from UNL in 1975, with an English major and a history minor. Professor Ruser attended UNL College of Law and received his J.D. in 1979. He worked for Western Nebraska Legal Services from 1979-1985; the first two years were spent in the Grand Island branch office, and the last four years were spent in the Scottsbluff office, where he was managing attorney. Professor Ruser is the Director of Clinical Programs at the College of Law and teaches in the Civil Clinic and the Immigration Clinic. He also co-administers the Litigation Skills Program of Concentrated Study. He is a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Clinical Section of the Association of American Law Schools, and the Clinical Legal Educators Association. He is currently Co-Chair of the District Court Forms Subcommittee of the Nebraska Supreme Court Self-Represented Litigants Committee, a member of the Nebraska Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, a member of the Nebraska Supreme Court’s Civil Justice Reform Committee, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Office of Public Guardian.
Ruser has worked abroad on law reform and legal education reform projects. In the fall of 2015, he worked with the Iliria University Law faculty in Pristina, Kosovo to help them design an experiential learning course on arbitration. From 2012 to 2015, he was involved in a project in which he evaluated and made recommendations for curricular changes in the Masters Level clinical programs at the University of Pristina Law Faculty and Iliria University Law Faculty in Pristina, Kosovo. From 2000 to 2005, he was involved with law and legal education reform efforts in several countries of the former Yugoslavia, most notably Montenegro and Serbia. From 2010 to 2012, he was, along with Professor Steven Schmidt, principal investigator of a USAID-funded grant to help teach oral advocacy techniques to faculty at the law school of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. These skills are needed by Mexican law students and practitioners to enable them to function effectively in Mexico's new oral adversarial system, which was created by recent constitutional reforms in Mexico.
Ruser's research interests lie primarily in the area of “crimmigration” – the intersection of immigration and criminal law. In August, 2012, he published an article in The Habeas, which is the monthly newsletter of the Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorney’s Association, reviewing and analyzing recent decisions by the Nebraska Supreme Court in the area of post-conviction “crimmigration” cases. Also in 2012, he made substantial updates to The Nebraska Criminal Practitioner’s Guide to Representing Non-Citizens in State Court Proceedings, which he first published in 2008. The Guide's purpose is to background criminal law practitioners in immigration law, in order to enable them to effectively advise their non-citizen clients of possible immigration consequences to criminal proceedings in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Padilla v. Kentucky holding that non-citizens have a 6th Amendment right to be advised by their defense counsel of immigration consequences in criminal cases. Ruser developed a 4-hour seminar on "crimmigration" issues and presented this seminar in each of Nebraska's 12 district court judicial districts in 2011 and 2012.
In 2011, Greg McLawsen, Julia McLawsen and Ruser co-authored an article entitled Demonstrating Psychological Hardship: A Statistical Study of Psychological Evaluations in Hardship Waivers of Inadmissibility. The article, which was published in the January 1, 2011 issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin, reviewed decisions of the Administrative Appeals Office (AA0) to see how helpful it is for non-citizens to submit psychological evaluations with their applications for hardship waivers to certain grounds of inadmissibility. Ruser has written other practice-related manuals and guides, the most recent of which are in the following areas: Chapter 7 consumer bankruptcy (2012); powers of attorney, guardianships and conservatorships (2015); and landlord/tenant law (2014).
Ryan Sullivan Robert J. Kutak Distinguished Professor of Law
Professor Sullivan joined the Law College faculty in August, 2013, as a supervising attorney in the Civil Clinical Law Program. He received his B.A. from Colorado State University-Pueblo while completing his enlistment in the U.S. Army, majoring in business administration. Thereafter he attended California University of Pennsylvania where he obtained his Master’s in Health Sciences. After a career in the fitness industry, he enrolled at UNL College of Law where he served as an editor of the Nebraska Law Review, the Chair of the Moot Court Board, and a member of the National Trial Team. Following graduation, Professor Sullivan joined the law firm of Kinsey, Rowe, Becker and Kistler where he practiced in the area of general civil litigation.
As the Director of the Civil Clinic, Professor Sullivan supervises student attorneys providing legal services to veterans and underserved populations in the areas of tenant rights, debt collection defense, criminal record rehabilitation, estate planning, family law, and other civil matters. Professor Sullivan also manages the Advance Directive Clinic (ADC) Project, wherein Civil Clinic students provide basic estate planning services to senior citizens in rural and semi-rural Communities around the State of Nebraska. Professor Sullivan also supervises several outreach projects within the Civil Clinic, including the Clean Slate Project, the Veterans Advocacy Project, the Tenants’ Rights Project and the Family Law Project.
He is a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Clinical Section of the Association of American Law Schools, and the Clinical Legal Education Association.
A Nebraska native, Professor Sullivan is an avid Husker fan, and enjoys cycling, woodworking and furniture restoration.
Watch to see how Professor Sullivan is providing representation for families facing eviction.
Rachel Tomlinson Dick Lecturer, Director of the Housing Justice Clinic
Rachel Tomlinson Dick joined the College of Law in 2022 as a Housing Justice Fellow, helping to develop and institute the Housing Justice Clinic in its inaugural year. In 2023, Rachel was named Director of the Housing Justice Clinic, which focuses on serving vulnerable Nebraska families facing housing-related legal issues.
Rachel earned her J.D. with highest distinction from the University of Nebraska College of Law in May 2022, obtaining concentrations in Constitutional Law and Litigation. During law school, she provided over 200 hours of pro bono service to the Tenant Assistance Project, and served as a research assistant to Professor Ryan Sullivan, contributing to scholarship focused on landlord-tenant law in Nebraska. Rachel was also named the Theodore C. Sorensen Fellow, received the Woods & Aitken Outstanding Student Award, and served as member of the Nebraska Law Review. As a law student, Rachel presented at a White House and U.S. Department of Justice event focused on law schools’ contributions to eviction prevention work, and had the opportunity to argue an appeal on behalf of a Civil Clinic client in front of the Nebraska Supreme Court.
A Nebraska native, Rachel earned her B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies, Sociology, and French from University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2010. Before attending law school, her work primarily focused on music and community activism, including helping to start Omaha Girls Rock Camp, and co-founding a boutique, not-for-profit record label centered on combatting sexism in the music industry.
In her free time, Rachel enjoys playing guitar, doing crossword puzzles, working on craft projects, being outdoors, and spending time with her six-year-old daughter.