Colleen E. Medill Robert & Joanne Berkshire Family Professor of Law & Director of Undergraduate Academic Programs
Professor Colleen Medill is nationally recognized as a scholar of Employee Benefits Law and as a teacher of Property and Legal Skills Development. Professor Medill is the sole author of Introduction to Employee Benefits Law: Policy and Practice (West Academic 6th ed. forthcoming 2023), Experiencing Property (West Academic forthcoming 2023), Developing Professional Skills: Property (hardcopy by: West Academic 2011; interactive digital-only version forthcoming 2023), and Acing Property (West Academic 3rd ed. 2021). She is a co-author of Contemporary Property (West 5th ed. 2019).
Professor Medill is nationally recognized for her scholarship on federal employee benefits law and related public policy. Her scholarly articles have been published in such journals as the Cornell Law Review, the Iowa Law Review, the Emory Law Journal, the North Carolina Law Review, and the Michigan Journal of Law Reform. Her textbook, Introduction to Employee Benefits Law: Policy and Practice, is the most widely adopted textbook in the field. She regularly speaks at national conferences on the responsibilities of employers and the rights of employees under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), and has testified as an invited expert witness at the Department of Labor on trends in fiduciary plan administration and the outsourcing of ERISA fiduciary duties.
In the fields of Property and Legal Skills Development, Professor Medill has been at the forefront of the movement in legal education to integrate the teaching of doctrinal theory, legal skills, and the ethical responsibilities of lawyers. Her book, Developing Professional Skills: Property, focuses on teaching legal drafting, advocacy, negotiation, and client counseling to first year Property students through exercises that also introduce students to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The approach to professional skills training pioneered in Developing Professional Skills: Property formed the basis for West Academic Publishing’s Developing Professional Skills series. The series is now being converted to an interactive digital-only format for students to practice and self-assess their professional legal skills and substantive knowledge. Professor Medill regularly speaks at national conferences and workshops for law professors regarding how to introduce skills training into traditional doctrinal courses and assess student performance.
Professor Medill graduated first in her law school class from the University of Kansas School of Law. Following graduation from law school, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Deanell Reece Tacha on the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. After her clerkship, Professor Medill practiced law in Kansas City, Missouri for seven years. Her private legal practice focused on federal employee benefits law and federal and state laws regulating banks and bank holding companies. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Nebraska, she was a faculty member at The University of Tennessee College of Law from 1997-2004. While at Tennessee she won multiple awards for both teaching and scholarship. At Nebraska she is has been selected four times as the Professor of the Year by the law students, honored by the College of Law with the Alumni Council Distinguished Faculty Award and the Bunger Memorial Award for Excellence in teaching and research, and recognized by the University of Nebraska for her national impact on teaching as a recipient of both the Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award and the John E. Weaver Award for Teaching Excellence. She also was selected for advanced training in higher education as a participant in the Big Ten Academic Leadership Program.
Professor Medill served as one of 15 members on the United States Department of Labor's Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, known as the ERISA Advisory Council, from 2017 to 2019. She is an elected Fellow of the prestigious American College of Employee Benefits Counsel and an elected Member of the American Law Institute. Professor Medill was selected by her peers in the practicing Bar for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America 2020TM in the field of ERISA Litigation. An active member of the Association of American Law Schools, she has served as an officer for three different sections of the AALS (Employee Benefits Law, Property, and Women in Legal Education). At the College of Law, Professor Medill serves as the Director of Undergraduate Academic Programs, working primarily with the Nebraska Honors Program and the College of Business. She also is the faculty advisor for the College of Law's Solo and Small Firm Practice Concentration, the Program of Concentrated Study in Real Estate Law, the Program of Concentrated Study in Human Resources Law, and the Program of Concentrated Study in Wealth Management Law.
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.