Colleen E. Medill

Professor Colleen Medill

Colleen E. Medill Robert & Joanne Berkshire Family Professor of Law

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Professor Colleen Medill is nationally recognized as an expert in the field of Employee Benefits Law, and as a teacher of Property and Legal Skills Development.  She teaches three of her four law school courses using textbooks that she has authored.  Professor Medill is the sole author of Introduction to Employee Benefits Law: Policy and Practice (West 4th ed. 2014), Developing Professional Skills: Property (West 2011), and Acing Property (West 2d ed. 2012).  She is a co-author of Contemporary Property (West 4th ed. 2013).   

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, has been used by over 40 ABA-accredited law schools, including ten Big Ten Schools (Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, and Wisconsin). Other law schools that have used her textbook include Arizona State, Boston College, Boston University, Creighton, Kansas, Marquette, Missouri, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, San Diego, St. Louis, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Wake Forest.  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 before the Department of Labor’s ERISA Advisory Council 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, for which Professor Medill serves as the series editor.  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 twice 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 the John E. Weaver Award for Teaching Excellence.

Professor Medill currently serves 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.  She is an elected Fellow of the prestigious American College of Employee Benefits Counsel and an elected Member of the American Law Institute.  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).  Professor Medill 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.  She also serves as the faculty advisor for two student organizations, the Saint Thomas More Society and the Nebraska Real Estate Law Society. 


Employee Benefit Law Law 751/G (1-4 cr hr)
A study of the federal laws that govern retirement, health care, and other benefit plans sponsored by private employers for their employees.  Topics include: employer compliance requirements under the Internal Revenue Code, the Employee Retirement income Security Act of 1974, and the Affordable Care Act; the responsibilities of plan fiduciaries;  federal claims and remedies available to plan participants; and federal preemption of state laws.  This course uses an applied problem method of learning and is designed for students who plan to practice in the areas of human resources, corporate law, employment litigation, insurance litigation, family law, or estate planning.

Property I & II Law 505/G & 506/G (3-6 cr hr, max 6)
Professor Medill's section covers the following topics: Property theory, adverse possession, introduction to intellectual property, rights to lost and found property, gifts, bailments, the landlord and tenant relationship, introduction to wills, trusts and estate, present and future interests and the Rule Against Perpetuities, the modern land transaction and methods of assuring title to real property, easements, restrictive covenants, zoning, eminent domain, and constitutional limitations on the power of government to regulate or take private property for public use. In addition, students in Professor Medill's section will complete exercises using topics covered in the course that are designed to develop their professional skills in preparation for the practice of law.

Real Estate Transactions Law 690/G (1-4 cr hr)
An examination of the typical provisions found in the legal documents that govern the transfer and financing of real estate and related legal issues with an emphasis on transactional drafting. This course covers listing agreements, real estate sales contracts, deeds and deed covenants, title examination and title insurance, mortgage substitutes such as installment sale contracts, and mortgage agreements and deeds of trust. The course concludes with an examination of the foreclosure process and alternatives to foreclosure. In addition to a final exam, students are assigned to represent either the buyer or the seller and required to negotiate and draft a real estate sales contract and related transactional documents are part of a realistic real estate transaction simulation exercise.


ERISA Subrogation After Montanile,  95 Neb L. Rev. ____ (forthcoming 2017)

Regulating ERISA Fiduciary Outsourcing,  102 Iowa L. Rev. 505 (2017)

Comparing ERISA and Fair Labor Standards Act Claims Under the Affordable Care Act,  20 Emp. Rts & Emp. Pol'y J. 173 (2016)

The Federal Common Law of Vicarious Fiduciary Liability Under ERISA,  42 Mich. L.J. Law Ref. 1 (2011) (lead article) (selected by Tax Notes as one of the ten most thought-provoking articles on employee benefits law written in 2011)

The Retirement Distribution Decision Ten Years Later: Results From An Empirical Study,  16 Elder L.J. 295 (2009)

Transforming the Role of the Social Security Administration,  92 Cornell Law Review 323 (2007) (Social Security Reform Symposium Issue)

Resolving the Judicial Paradox of "Equitable" Relief under ERISA Section 502(a)(3),  39 J. Marshall Law Review 827 (2006) (ERISA Symposium Issue)

Challenging the Four Truths of Personal Social Security Accounts: Evidence from the World of 401(k) Plans,  81 North Carolina Law Review 901 (2003)

Stock Market Volatility and 401(k) Plans,  34 Michigan L.J. Ref. 469 (2001)

Targeted Pension Reform,  27 Legislation 1 (2001)

The Individual Responsibility Model of Retirement Plans Today: Conforming ERISA Policy to Reality,  49 Emory L.J. 1 (2000)

HIPAA And Its Related Legislation: A New Role For ERISA In The Regulation Of Private Health Care Plans?,  65 Tenn. L. Rev. 485 (1998)

The Law Of Directed Trustees Under ERISA: A Proposed Blueprint For The Federal Courts,  61 Mo. L. Rev. 825 (1996)


Introduction to Employee Benefits Law: Policy and Practice,West 2004, 2007, 2010, 2014, with accompanying Teacher's Manual and semi-annual supplements.

Contemporary Property,West 4th ed. 2013, with Grant S. Nelson, Dale A. Whitman, and Shelley Ross Saxer.

Acing Property,West 2009, 2012.

Developing Professional Skills: Property,West, 2011.

Book Chapters

Enron and the Pension System in Enron: Corporate Fiascos and Implications, Foundation Press 2003


Reinforcing Student Understanding of Substantive Property Law through Skills Exercises, Invited Speaker, West Academic Publishing Event held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of American Law Schools, Jan. 2017, San Francisco, California

New Developments in ERISA Legislation, Invited Speaker, Annual Meeting of the Nebraska Trial Lawyers Association, Oct. 2016, Papillion, Nebraska

Teaching Professional Skills in Doctrinal Courses: Managing Time/Substantive Coverage Constraints and Assessing Student Performance, Invited Speaker, West Academic Publishing's Experiential Innovation Summit: Incorporating Skills Throughout Law School Curriculum, July 2017, St. Paul, Minnesota

Integrating (and Assessing) Lawyering Skills in the IL Curriculum, Invited Speaker (with Professors Paula Schaefer and Alex Long), Institute for Law Teaching and Learning National Conference, June 2016, Topeka, Kansas

Hot Topics in ERISA Litigation, Invited Speaker, Nebraska Defense Counsel Association Annual Meeting, June 2016 Lincoln, Nebraska

ERISA Litigation in the Federal Courts, Invited Speaker, Summer Education Program for Nebraska Federal Law Clerks, June 2016, Omaha, Nebraska

Emerging Employee Claims Under the Affordable Care Act, Invited Speaker, Joint Program co-sponsored by the Section on Employee Benefits Law and Executive Compensation and the Secion on Health Law, Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, January 2016, Washington, D.C.

Workshop on the Economics of Public Pensions, Invited Participant, George Mason University Law and Economics Center, Sept. 2015, Palo Alto, California

Assessment of Skills Exercises: Tips and Techniques for Time and Classroom Management, Invited Speaker, Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Association of American Law Schools, July 2015, Boca Raton, Florida

New Developments Under the Affordable Care Act, Invited Speaker, University of Kansas School of Law New Developments in the Law CLE Program, May 2015, Lawrence, Kansas

The Supreme Court and the Future of the Affordable Care Act, Invited Speaker, May 2015, Omaha and Norfolk, Nebraska

Implementing the Affordable Care Act: A Primer for the Non-Expert, Invited Speaker, Oct. 2014, North Platte and Grand Island, Nebraska

Determining "Fair Market Value" in Real Estate Transactions and Condemnation Actions, Invited Speaker, College of Law Table for Ten Series, Sept. 2014, Lincoln, Nebraska

Testimony on Outsourcing of Fiduciary Responsibilities, Invited Witness, ERISA Advisory Council, United States Department of Labor, June 2014, Washington, D.C.

Social Insurance Programs Under Attack, Panel Moderator, Third Annual ERISA, Benefits, and Social Insurance Conference, March 2014, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Public and Private Employee Benefits in Turmoil Invited Speaker, 2012 International Conference for Law and Society, June 2012, Honolulu, Hawaii

Tenth Annual Symposium on Employee Benefits Law, Center for Tax Law and Employee Benefits, Program Moderator, April 2012, Chicago, Illinois

ERISA Litigation in the Federal Courts, Invited Speaker, The William Matthew Bryne, Jr. Judicial Clerkship Institute, Pepperdine Unviersity School of Law, March 2012, Malibu, California (co-sponsored by the National Federal Judicial Center)

The New Revocable Property, Invited Presenter, Conference on Employee Benefits in an Era of Retrenchment, Washington University Law School, March 2012, St. Louis, Missouri

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Invited Speaker, March 2012, Lincoln, Nebraska

An Objective Discussion of Private Sector Pension Plans, Program Moderator, Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, January 2012, Washington, D.C.

Teaching Skills and Professional Responsibility Concepts in Traditional Doctrinal Courses, Invited Speaker, Thomson Reuters Innovation in Teaching Summit, August 2011, St. Paul, Minnesota

Women Rethinking Equality Workshop, Invited Commentator, Association of American Law Schools, June 2011, Washington, D.C.

ERISA Litigation in the Federal Courts, Invited Speaker, The William Matthew Bryne, Jr. Judicial Clerkship Institute, Pepperdine University School of Law, March 2011, Malibu, California (co-sponsored by the national Federal Judicial Center)

National Health Care Reform: A Post-Election Analysis, Invited Speaker, American Consitution Society, November 2010, Lincoln, Nebraska

Employee Health Care Benefits and ERISA Preemption, Invited Speaker, Association of American Law Schools, Workshop on Work Law, June 2009, Long Beach, California

Merging the "Old" with the "New": Community-Based Collaborative Legal Research and Opportunities for Empirical Legal Studies, Panel Organizer and Speaker, Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Association of American Law Schools, July 2008, Palm Beach, Florida

Retiree Perceptions and Decision-Making Concerning Longevity, Inflation, and Investment Risk in the Early Years of the Post-Retirement Phase, Invited Speaker, Ninth Annual Joint Conference of the Retirement Research Consortium, August 2007, Washington, D.C.

Improving Retirement Savings Through Retirement Financial Education: A "Best Practices" Approach, Invited Speaker, Annual Meeting of the National Tax Association, November 2006, Boston, Massachusetts


John E. Weaver Award for Teaching Excellence  University of Nebraska (2017)

Bunger Memorial Award for Excellence  University of Nebraska (2016)

Schmoker Faculty Mini CLE Grant  University of Nebraska (2014-2015)

Professor of the Year Award (voted on by upper class students)  University of Nebraska (2014)

Professor of the Year Award (voted on by the first year class)  University of Nebraska (2008)

Alumni Council Distinguished Faculty Award  University of Nebraska (2007)

Principal Investigator, Retiree Perceptions and Decision-Making Concerning Longevity, Inflation, and Investment Risk in the Early Years of the Post-Retirement Phase, funded by the Center for Retirement Research  Sandell Grant Program (2006-2007)

Co-Principal Investigator, An Empirical Analysis of Summary Plan Description Language (with Richard Weiner and Brian Bornstein),  The Commonwealth Fund and the Employee Benefit Research Institute (2005-2006)

One of ten finalists for the University of Tennessee National Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award  University of Tennessee (2002)

Winner of the Labor and Social Welfare Policy Category for the 2002 Stanford/Yale Junior Faculty Scholarship Forum  University of Tennessee (2002)

Marilyn V. Yarbrough Faculty Award for Writing Excellence  University of Tennessee (2001)

Harold C. Warner Outstanding Teacher Award  University of Tennessee (2000)

W. Allen Separk Faculty Scholarship Award  University of Tennessee (2000)



Mentoring Program in the AALS Women in Legal Education Section,  Mentor


J.D., highest distinction, 1989, University of Kansas School of Law
Order of the Coif, 1989
Articles Editor, 1988-89, Kansas Law Review
B.A., Economics and Political Science, 1985, with highest distinction, University of Kansas

Areas of Expertise


Robert & Joanne Berkshire Family Professor of Law, 2012-present
Warren R. Wise Professor of Law, 2008-2012
Hevelone Research Chair, 2008-2009
Cline Williams Research Chair, 2006-2007
Professor of Law, 2005
Associate Professor of Law, 2004
Professor of Law (Tennessee), 2003
Associate Professor of Law (Tennessee), 1997