Jessica A. Shoemaker Steinhart Foundation Distinguished Professor of Law
Jessica Shoemaker joined the law faculty in 2012 and is currently Professor of Law at the University of Nebraska College of Law. She has been recognized both nationally and internationally for her work on adaptive change in pluralistic land-tenure systems, as well as property law’s power to shape the contours of human communities and natural environments. Her work focuses specifically on issues of racial justice and agricultural sustainability in the American countryside and on systems of Indigenous land tenure and land governance in the United States and Canada. Her most recent law-review articles, including Fee Simple Failures: Rural Landscapes and Race and Transforming Property: Reclaiming Modern Indigenous Land Tenures, have been placed in top journals, including the Michigan Law Review and the California Law Review. Her work has been reviewed three times in JOTWELL, an online journal that highlights important and notable recent legal scholarship, and she is cited widely by interdisciplinary and international scholars.
Beginning in Fall 2021, Professor Shoemaker has been awarded an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship to analyze how property law has shaped who owns agricultural land in America and why, as well as what might come next. From 2018-2019, she also served as the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Legal and Resource Rights at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law in Edmonton, Alberta.
Prior to becoming a legal scholar, Professor Shoemaker worked as an agricultural writer, a VISTA volunteer, a rural community outreach worker, and a public-interest attorney for diverse, smallholder farmers across the United States as a Skadden Fellow with Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc. During her Skadden Fellowship, Professor Shoemaker focused particularly on access and equity issues for BIPOC farmers and ranchers and on strategies for community ownership of new renewable energy developments. Professor Shoemaker also clerked for the Honorable David M. Ebel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and has experience interning for both the Crow Nation Court of Appeals and Indian Probate Judge George Tah-Bone with the Department of the Interior, helping with federal probate proceedings across reservations in North and South Dakota. As a practicing litigator for five years at Arnold & Porter LLP in Denver, Colorado, Professor Shoemaker has also worked on all aspects of complex litigation in several different courts, including amicus work before the United States Supreme Court and significant roles in several important cases involving Indigenous land and religious rights. Professor Shoemaker graduated first in her class from the University of Wisconsin Law School.
At Nebraska, Professor Shoemaker teaches Property I and II, Native American Law, Wills and Trusts, and a seminar in rural development and energy law. She has supervised numerous law student externships, including student opportunities with tribal governments and the Center for Rural Affairs. She also advises the College’s Equal Justice Society.
She is a Founding Fellow of the Rural Futures Institute, a Fellow and former Governor of the Center for Great Plains Studies, and the current Program Chair for the Association of Law, Property, and Society. A product of a chore farm in Iowa and generations of Wisconsin farmers who grew everything from strawberries to ginseng, she is also currently working to establish and co-direct The Rural Reconciliation Project at the University of Nebraska.