Experiential Learning

Chelsi Hayden

Chelsi Hayden Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Director of Legal Research and Writing Program

Professor Chelsi Hayden joined the law faculty in 2017. She is directing and teaching in the Legal Research and Writing program and teaching advanced legal writing courses. Her research focuses on Evidence, Legal Methods, Legal Writing, and Learning Theories. In addition, she often writes for the Kansas bar.

 Prior to coming to Nebraska Law, Professor Hayden was a Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Kansas, where she taught predominately litigation focused classes—Evidence, Lawyering Skills, Advanced Legal Writing, and legal-skills simulation workshops.  

In addition to her academic pursuits, Professor Hayden served, or continues to serve, on the Federal Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel, the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity, the Kansas Land Trust, the Kansans Advancing Women Political Action Committee, and the Willow Domestic Violence Center. Professor Hayden continues with representation in court, most often in an amicus curia.

Before entering academia, Professor Hayden served as chambers counsel to Judge Carlos Murguia of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas and was an associate in business litigation for Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City, Missouri. She has extensive experience in civil and criminal law, litigating in both state and federal courts.

Professor Hayden received bachelors of art degrees in Sociology and Criminology from the University of Kansas. She graduated Order of the Coif from the University of Kansas School of Law.

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Michelle Paxton

Michelle Paxton Adjunct Law Professor and Director of the Children's Justice Clinic

Michelle Paxton joined the College of Law in April, 2017 to create and lead the newest clinical program, the Children’s Justice Clinic. Ms. Paxton has served as the Director of Legal Training at University of Nebraska’s Center on Children, Families and the Law (CCFL). She develops curriculum and trains child welfare workers, probation officers, and mental health professionals on all aspects of juvenile court process and procedure in Nebraska. Ms. Paxton also receives Guardian ad Litem appointments from the Lancaster County Juvenile Court. Through her work at CCFL, she came to realize that effective advocacy in juvenile court requires both an understanding of the law and appreciation of the complex dynamics of children, families, and stakeholders comprising the child welfare system.  Ms. Paxton initiated the University of Nebraska College of Law and CCFL’s partnership to create a new clinical program wherein law students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively advocate for young children utilizing the training, support, and consultation from experts at CCFL.

Michelle Paxton received her J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law, where she served as Executive Editor for the Law Review. Ms. Paxton has served as a Deputy County Attorney in Douglas and Lancaster Counties, specializing in juvenile law, domestic violence, and general criminal prosecution. She has presented comprehensively on all aspects regarding juvenile court including the Indian Child Welfare Act, Termination of Parental Rights, Expert Witness Testimony in Juvenile Court, and Observing Development in Young Children. 

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Kevin Ruser

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).

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Professor Ryan SUllivan

Ryan Sullivan Clinical Associate 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.

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