Federal Indian Law (Native American Law)

Michelle Paxton

Michelle Paxton Lecturer, Director of the Children's Justice Clinic and the Children's Justice Attorney Education Program

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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Professor Jessica Shoemaker

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.


Watch how Professor Shoemaker is defining a rural landscape through property law. 

Read more about Jessica A. Shoemaker