Professor Colleen Medill

Colleen E. Medill Robert & Joanne Berkshire Family Professor of Law & Director of Undergraduate Academic Programs

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Biography

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. 

Courses

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 Law 505/G (5 cr hr)
Professor Medill's section covers the following topics: Property theory, adverse possession, rights to lost and found property, gifts, landlord and tenant law, introduction to wills, trusts and estates, present and future interests and the Rule Against Perpetuities, introduction to real estate transactions 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 (3 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.

Articles

ERISA Subrogation After Montanile,  95 Neb L. Rev. 603 (2017) (selected by Tax Notes as one of the ten most thought-provoking articles on employee benefits law written in 2017)

Regulating ERISA Fiduciary Outsourcing,  102 Iowa L. Rev. 505 (2017) (selected by Tax Notes as one of the ten most thought-provoking articles on employee benefits law written in 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)

Books

Introduction to Employee Benefits Law: Policy and Practice, West Academic Publishing 2004, 2007, 2010, 2014, 2018, 2023, with accompanying Teacher's Manual and semi-annual supplements.

Contemporary Property, West Academic Publishing 2013, 2019, with Grant S. Nelson, Dale A. Whitman, and Shelley Ross Saxer.

Acing Property, West Academic Publishing 2009, 2012, 2022.

Developing Professional Skills: PropertyWest Academic Publishing, 2011, digital interactive version forthcoming 2023.

Book Chapters

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

Presentations

Revising Fundamental ERISA Doctrines in a Chevronless World, Invited Speaker Annual Employee Benefits Conference, Nov. 2022, Boston. Massachusetts

ERISA Group Health Plans and Health Inequities, Invited Speaker, Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, Sections on Employee Benefits Law, Health Law and Minorities, Jan. 2023, San Diego, California

DOL Enforcement Program for the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, Invited Speaker, Annual Meeting of the Nebraska State Bar Association, Oct. 2018, Omaha, Nebraska

Health Care Reform in 2018: What’s Next?, Invited Speaker, Nebraska Judicial Education Program, Feb. 2018, University of Nebraska College of Law.

Association Health Plans, Invited Speaker, Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, Jan. 2018, San Diego, California

Update: What’s In and What’s Out in Health Care Reform: What Every Attorney Should Know About Health Law, Invited Speaker, Annual Meeting of the Nebraska State Bar Association, Oct. 2017, Papillion, Nebraska

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

Other
Date: 
Monday, August 1, 2022
Awards

One of three finalists selected by the College of law students for the Distinguished Teaching Award (2022)  

Professor of the Year Award  University of Nebraska (2021, 2020, 2014, 2008)

John H. Binning Award for Excellence  University of Nebraska (2020)

The Best Lawyers in America™ 2020 in the field of ERISA litigation  

Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award  University of Nebraska (2018)

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)

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)

Other

Member of the Bars for Nebraska (since 2015-inactive), Kansas (since 1989-inactive), Missouri (since 1990-inactive), and Tennessee (since 1997-inactive)  

Big 10 Academic Leadership Program (2021-2022)  

University of Nebraska Faculty Leadership in Academia: From Inspiration to Reality (FLAIR) Program (2020)  

Graduate of the University of Nebraska Summer Institute for Online Teaching (2020)  

United States Dept. of Labor, Advisory Council on Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, Appointed Member (2017-2019)  

American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, Elected Fellow (since 2014)  

American Law Institute, Elected Member (since 2006)  

Association of American Law Schools, Section on Women in Legal Education,  Executive Committee Member (2011), Chair, Program Planning Committee for 2012 Annual Meeting (2011), Chair, Mentoring Committee (2009-2011), Member of the Subcommittee on Mid-Year Meeting Proposal (2009), Webmistress for the Section’s Mentoring Program database (2009-2013)

Association of American Law Schools, Section on Property  Secretary (2011), Executive Committee Member (2011)

Association of American Law Schools, Section on Employee Benefits Law   Chair (2003-2004), Executive Committee Member (2001-2003, 2009-present)

American Bar Association, Member (since 1989)  Member of the Sections on Taxation, Labor and Employment Law, and Health Law

Education

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