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Headshots of Peck, Finley, Hurilla, and Lawton

Alumni News | January 2024

30 Jan 2024    

Every month, we bring you the latest updates from our alumni near and far.

ALUM NOTES

Amy L. Peck, ’87, received the 2024 Lexology Client Choice Award for her work in providing excellent client care and quality client services.

Beau G. Finley, ’96, was named county court judge for the Fourth Judicial District of Nebraska, including Douglas County. 

Lyndsay A. Hurilla, ’19, has joined the firm of Barnes and Thornburg in their Salt Lake City office.

ALUM IN THE NEWS

Kimberly A. Lawton, ’10, received the 2023 District Attorney of the Year Award from the Wisconsin District Attorneys' Association. Lawton has held the position of Bayfield County District Attorney since 2016 and has filed over 1,000 criminal cases since taking office.

Professor Jo Potuto headshot

Potuto’s article published in Oklahoma Law Review

30 Jan 2024    

Professor Potuto’s article A Fine Mess: The NCAA, the Collegiate Model, and the Post-Alston World has been published in the Oklahoma Law Review.

The article addresses some on-the-ground implementation and practical consequences of NIL deals. They include collectives, the impact on recruiting and competitive equity, NCAA enforcement issues, questions regarding the applicability of Title IX, the impact on high school and even younger athletes, conflicts with athletic department exclusive sponsorship deals, the likelihood of a federal legislative solution, and the slippery slope to pay for play.

Professor Kristen Blankley headshot

Blankley, Votruba publish article on race in rural and non-diverse communities

26 Jan 2024    

Professor Kristen Blankley and Assistant Professor of Psychology Ashley Votruba have published Discussing Race in Rural and Non-Diverse Communities in the Ohio State Journal of Dispute Resolution.

The article is an extension of their participation in the “Rethinking System Design for Racial Justice” hosted by Ohio State’s Divided Community Project, Harvard University’s Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program, and Stanford Law School’s Gould Center for Dispute Resolution.  

It takes an interdisciplinary approach to the issue of discussing race in primarily white and otherwise non-diverse populations. It draws on research from the substantive disciplines of psychology and antiracism and combine them with the literature and practice of facilitation, dispute system design (DSD), and mediation. The article focuses on discussing race in large groups; it does not cover the equally difficult issues of discussing race in mediated cases, such as discrimination cases, or in restorative justice conversations.

LLM students sitting as a panel

LL.M. Students Present Panel on Careers in the JAG Corps.

24 Jan 2024    

Both the Space, Cyber, and National Security Law Club and Armed Forces Legal Society hosted a panel on careers in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. Current in-person LL.M. students who are active duty U.S. Air Force and Army JAGS were panelists, providing background on their experiences, what it looks like to work as a space or cyber lawyer for the armed forces, and answering questions for JD students. President of the Armed Forces Legal Society and Career Coordinator for the Space, Cyber and National Security Law Club, Zach Hellen, '25, served as the moderator for the panel.

Woomera Manual Available for Preorder

22 Jan 2024    

Preorder is now available for "The Woomera Manual on the International Law of Military Space Operations," a project that our Director, Jack Beard, has been working meticulously on over the past few years. The Woomera Manual analyzes 3 phases of military space interactions: peace, tension or crisis, and armed conflict. It also delves into different legal regimes, history of the law in this area, and state practice. Drafts of the manual were reviewed and commented on by numerous countries at The Hague in 2022. 

The manual is available for pre-order at https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-woomera-manual-on-the-international-law-of-military-space-operations-9780192870667?cc=us&lang=en&.

Alex Kleinjan headshot

Kleinjan provides case summaries for Nebraska State Bar Association

19 Jan 2024    

Alex Kleinjan, ’24, published Nebraska Supreme Court case summaries for the Nebraska State Bar Association’s The Nebraska Lawyer magazine. This new section summarizes major cases from the Nebraska Supreme Court. Students from Nebraska Law and Creighton Law prepare and submit the summaries for publication.

Kleinjan completed this project as part of his Schmid Research Fellowship. He worked with the NSBA, fellowship director Professor Stefanie Pearlman, and Wendy Wussow, former Clerk of the Nebraska Supreme Court, to identify potential cases. Through his research, Kleinjan identified the following cases for summarization: Sinu v. Concordia University, State v. Sullivan, Timothy L. Ashford, PC LLO v. Roses, In re Adoption of Faith F., Muller v. Weeder, Chatterjee v. Chatterjee, State v. Lewis, Pinnacle Bancorp, Inc. v. Moritz, State v. Johnson, Charter West Bank v. Riddle, and Adams Land & Cattle, LLC v. Widdowson.

Headshots of Berg and Tetzlaff

Berg, Tetzlaff place first in Frank & Lawson Client Counseling Competition

17 Jan 2024    

Christopher Berg, ’24, and Preston Tetzlaff, ’24, took first place in the 2024 Frank & Lawson Client Counseling Competition this past weekend. Thirteen teams, each comprised of two Nebraska Law upper-class students, completed intake interviews with client actors facing legal issues related to education. 

Connor Oldenburg, ’25, and Jadon Smith, ’25, took second place, while Kyle Kelley, ’25, and Shaianne Sunagawa, ’25, took third. The top two teams will represent Nebraska Law at the ABA Regional Competition hosted by Creighton Law in February.

Professor Kyle Langvardt headshot

Langvardt co-authors opinion piece for Association of Computing Machinery

10 Jan 2024    

Professor Kyle Langvardt and Minnesota law professor Alan Rozenshtein co-authored Beyond the Editorial Analogy: The Future of the First Amendment on the Internet, for Communications of the ACM, the monthly journal for the Association of Computing Machinery.

 In the article, Langvardt and Rozenshtein argue that the Supreme Court should strike down two laws – out of Florida and Texas – that claim to protect the free speech of users on social media platforms. While some regulation to protect user speech interests could be valuable in principle, the authors argue that these particular laws are so poorly designed that they will undermine rather than enhance the speech interests of users.

Dee Farmer speaks on a panel at Nebraska Law

Law Review Symposium sheds light on federal prison system

20 Dec 2023    

This fall, the Nᴇʙʀᴀsᴋᴀ Lᴀᴡ Rᴇᴠɪᴇᴡ hosted a symposium titled “Advancing Justice for the Federally Incarcerated.” The gathering marks the first in-person symposium organized by the Law Review in 15 years.

The event served as a platform for timely and informed discussion, collaboration and exchanges of ideas between law professors, attorneys, judges, affected persons and journalists to shed light on critical aspects of the federal prison system and the way in which the system impacts the people in its custody.

“Our overall goal of the symposium was to discuss and highlight a pertinent issue in the legal community and bring together a diverse group of perspectives to discuss that issue in an accessible way,” said Murphy Cavanaugh, ’23, Nᴇʙʀᴀsᴋᴀ Lᴀᴡ Rᴇᴠɪᴇᴡ symposium editor.

Legal expert Dee Farmer delivered a keynote address on her litigation in Farmer v. Brennan, in which she was the first transgender plaintiff to bring a case before the United States Supreme Court.

Farmer is now a legal consultant for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders and a Paralegal Fellow in the MORCA-Georgetown Paralegal Program. She continues to speak out against prison conditions and help terminally ill inmates work towards compassionate release.

“We, as advocates, should push forward to ensure that the law protects what is right and decent,” she said. “I believe that we all have a purpose or some role to play in advancing humanity.”

This symposium in particular intrigued Farmer, as she said it’s rare that the federal prison system is analyzed in such a context.

“The federal system is widely believed and accepted to be the model for all correctional systems within the United States,” she said. “It’s very seldom, if ever, that it’s reviewed in this kind of setting.”

The symposium also featured three discussion panels, each offering an exploration of issues surrounding federal incarceration, from the pre-incarceration phase to conditions within prisons to strategies for holding state actors and systems accountable. This format was chosen by the symposium organizers with the help of professor Danielle Jefferis and associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion Stefanie Pearlman.

“We carefully crafted a ‘beginning, middle and end’ structure for our panels to discuss the federal incarceration experience so we could touch upon all pertinent aspects of the conversation including the roles of judges and attorneys at the federal level, what makes the federal system different from the state system, conditions of confinement and prison accountability,” said Cavanaugh.

The first panel analyzed the phase before incarceration and featured U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon, assistant federal public defender Jessica Milburn, ’00, assistant U.S. Attorney Lecia Wright, University of Chicago professor Pedro Gerson and RISE in-prison program associate Aaron Pettes.

“Our first panel was a particularly good example of how useful differences of perspective can be,” said Matias Cava, ’23, Nᴇʙʀᴀsᴋᴀ Lᴀᴡ Rᴇᴠɪᴇᴡ editor-in-chief. “It demonstrated that parties generally characterized as adversarial genuinely have common ground in diagnosing the problems faced by incarcerated individuals, and even sometimes agree on the way the system needs to change.”

One challenge, illustrated by professor Gerson, relates to immigration detention conditions, as inmates can be transferred from detention facilities near their community to facilities in remote areas. This transfer makes it difficult for them to gain access to an attorney.

“Placing immigrants into these remote facilities really makes their lives and their processes a lot harder,” he said.

During the second panel, participants analyzed conditions of confinement and the experiences of prisoners within the federal incarceration system.

Topics of discussion included the examination of prison infrastructure, the provision of healthcare, mental health support, educational opportunities and the impact of overcrowding. In discussing measures to support the mental health of incarcerated individuals, University of Denver Sturm College of Law professor Laura Rovner said not only does the prison system often fail to provide sufficient mental health care, but it can also create the mental health conditions for which prisoners need care. This risk is especially high for those in solitary confinement.

“There is all of this forced idleness, and then we wonder why people start to develop anxiety and depression,” she said.

In closing out the symposium, the final panel covered prison accountability and performance measures, highlighting the various efforts being undertaken by the legal field, organizations and other stakeholders to ensure accountability within the federal prison system. Panelists discussed strategies to address systemic issues, promote rehabilitation and protect the rights and dignity of incarcerated individuals.

Cardozo School of Law professor Betsy Ginsberg noted possible remedies in cases involving the prison system, such as payment, injunctions, and release. She also pointed out that even when a case is lost, good can come from it.

“Losses can do a lot of things,” she said. “Information comes out of cases, discovery brings forth lots of information that can be made public sometimes."

The Nᴇʙʀᴀsᴋᴀ Lᴀᴡ Rᴇᴠɪᴇᴡ team said the response from the community was overwhelmingly positive and saw significant engagement from attendees and students alike.

“This Law Review symposium was an opportunity for honest conversation, not just among academics, but for lawyers and non-lawyers affected by federal incarceration,” Cava said.

Visit lawreview.unl.edu/advancing-justice-for-the-federally-incarcerated for additional event information.

Headshots of Magilton, Sorich, O'Neill, and Blauhorn

Alumni News | December 2023

20 Dec 2023    

Every month, we bring you the latest updates from our alumni near and far.

ALUM NOTES

Elsbeth J. Magilton, ’11, was a featured speaker at TEDxOmaha, where she presented “Silly and Serious: A Journey in Star Trek, Law, and Hard Topics.”

Mackenzie J. Sorich, ’16, who operates the solo firm of View Ridge Family Law & Estate Planning, was honored on the exclusive Law Firm 500 List of the nation's fastest-growing practices.

Sarah C. O’Neill, ’22, has joined Legal Aid of Nebraska as an attorney within the Housing Justice Project. 

ALUM IN THE NEWS

Rene M. Blauhorn, ’16, has opened Blauhorn Law in Grand Island. The firm specializes exclusively in personal injury law and will serve the Tri-City area.

College of Law building

Nebraska Law named a “Best Law School for Your Money”

18 Dec 2023    

The University of Nebraska College of Law has been named a Best Law School for Your Money by Money Magazine. This is the inaugural list presented by Money.

For more than a decade, Nebraska Law has been included on lists ranking best value and lowest debt.

“Students considering law school should consider cost and the debt that will be required to pay for school, along with bar passage rates and whether graduates get real legal jobs,” said Dean Richard Moberly. “Money’s list is recognition of Nebraska Law’s success in all of these areas.”

Nebraska Law received four-and-a-half stars out of five, putting the college among the top 20 in the nation. Key data points reported as part of the list include:

  • Estimated annual cost of $32,820
  • Average student debt of $62,060
  • Employment rate of 96%
  • Average early career salary of $57,020

Nebraska residents currently pay annual tuition and fees of $16,081.

The methodology weighed numerous data points, prioritizing annual tuition and fees, average student debt and typical earnings for recent graduates.

Professor Brian Lepard headshot

Professor Lepard publishes book review in the Nordic Journal of Human Rights

13 Dec 2023    

Professor Brian Lepard has published a book review in the latest edition of the Nordic Journal of Human Rights

The review analyzes William A. Schabas’ book on The Customary International Law of Human Rights, which was published in 2021 by Oxford University Press. Professor Schabas is Professor of International Law at Middlesex University in London. The book contains an extensive analysis of the role of customary international law in the protection of human rights and of the customary law status of a wide variety of rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 75 years ago, and many other international human rights declarations and treaties.

Professor Lepard himself is a recognized expert on international human rights law and customary international law. His most recent book is Reexamining Customary International Law, published by Cambridge University Press in 2017. The book includes a chapter on “Toward a New Theory of Customary International Human Rights Law.” Professor Lepard is the Harold W. Conroy Distinguished Professor of Law at the College of Law.

Professor Jessica Shoemaker headshot

Shoemaker's article reviewed in JOTWELL

13 Dec 2023    

Professor Jessica Shoemaker's forthcoming article, Re-Placing Property, was reviewed by Ann E. Tweedy, professor of law at the University of South Dakota School of Law, in JOTWELL: The Journal of Things We Like (Lots).

In her review, Tweedy calls the article "a must-read for anyone concerned about the current levels of wealth concentration in the United States and the resulting inequities. Professor Shoemaker’s critique of the sometimes unchecked freedoms that come with ownership and her argument that we should structure our property rules differently so as to limit these freedoms in the absence of place-based attachment are incisive."

JOTWELL is an online journal that highlights important and notable recent legal scholarship.

Jumps, Coogan, and Dabney

Coogan, Dabney, and Jumps advance to National Moot Court Competition

08 Dec 2023    

3Ls Kaci Jumps, Dan Coogan, and Amanda Dabney (l-r) defeated a University of Iowa team to win the Region 9 competition of the New York City Bar Association's National Moot Court competition. Dabney earned the award for best finalist in the final round.

The team, coached by alumnus Shannon Doering, ’99, will advance to the national competition to be held in New York City January 28 - February 2, 2024.

The regional tournament was held at the Washburn University School of Law in November. A second Nebraska Law team comprised of Drew Bydalek, Sydney Pabelico, and Broc Stuhr also made an impressive showing at the competition, advancing to the semi-final round before they were defeated.

Everman, Mueller, and Rivera headshots.

Behind the Scenes with Career Development

08 Dec 2023    

Each month, we’re giving an inside look at the work happening behind the scenes at the College of Law. The Career Development team works to connect students to potential employment opportunities, develop their strengths, and prepare them for life in the legal field.

Career Development team:

Tasha Everman, ’02, Assistant Dean & Director of Career Development

Kala Mueller, Director of Public Interest Programs

Meghan Rivera, Career Development Office Operations Coordinator

Q: What does your role on the Career Development team entail?

TE: Meghan, Kala and I are a team. The three of us have been working together for over 7 years and although we each have distinct roles, like Kala with a focus on public interest law, we all work together to make sure student needs are met. I think we all are fulfilled when our actions/advice/connections lead to success for a student. That success could be securing a job or even just securing the interview. Sometimes a success might be simply helping a student determine the next step in their career exploration, or talking them through the negotiation process once they have received an offer.

KM: Because we are a small office, I work with students across the board regardless of what their interests and career goals are. However, I also get to focus a lot of time and energy on advising students interested in public sector work and developing programming and materials on careers in government, nonprofit, and policy work. I also oversee our Nebraska Public Interest Law Summer Fellowship program (NPILF), which provides funding for students engaged in unpaid public interest work. It is incredibly fulfilling to support students in pursuing careers where they will increase access to justice and impact the lives of other people in profound ways. I love when I’m able to help connect a student to an opportunity they’re passionate about and to share in the excitement that comes from their success.

MR: I am the Operations Coordinator. This encompasses many of the different things I do in the Career Development Office from submitting Reciprocity requests, the planning and advertising of events, coordinating on-campus interviews, answering questions regarding 12Twenty, collecting employment data, student and employer outreach, and scheduling appointments.

Q: How does the Career Development Office support students at Nebraska Law?

KM: We do our best to make information and resources (including ourselves!) easily accessible. Working with the students is the best part of this job, and the more I get to know them the better equipped I am to provide support. This is my Relator coming through, for sure, but it feels really good if I’m familiar enough with someone’s interests that I’m able to pass along opportunities I learn of that seem particularly well suited to them. It often feels very much like friends working together to achieve a goal, where the goal is a fulfilling job for the student.

MR: Throughout the year we host many events and opportunities to allow the students to meet with different attorneys and organizations. We encourage them to make networking connections and explore many areas of the law. In my role, I help support the students by being the first person they see when entering the office. I answer as many questions as I can, and then help them make an appointment to meet with either Kala or Tasha.

Q: You host many networking and informational events throughout the year. What programs do you most encourage students to attend? 

TE: I encourage students to attend as many Exploring Opportunities programs as their schedule allows. It is an easy way to start building your legal network and also learning more about the practicalities of day-to-day practice in a variety of areas. I also would tell students not to miss our two Employer fairs in mid-November, as they will have the chance to go table-to-table meeting and learning about employers who will be back in the spring to hire for summer positions. Finally, we collaborate with the Nebraska State Bar Association each spring on a Speed Networking event where students can meet 20+ attorneys through both structured and unstructured networking.

KM: If I’m wearing my public interest hat and had to choose one, it would be Justice Jam without a doubt. The event is a beloved annual tradition at the law college (even the 3Ls show up, which tells you a lot) that began 12 years ago and is held in early October. We invite a variety of local public interest attorneys and give them four minutes to share why they fight for justice. The timing is important because it falls about midway through the fall semester when 1Ls, in particular, may need a reminder of why they came to law school. It’s equal parts fun and inspirational (there’s a gong involved), and it gives students an opportunity to connect with some really dedicated, talented attorneys.

MR: Personally, my favorite events that we host are the employer fairs and I encourage as many students as I can to attend. We try to get as many law firms, nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies to the law school as possible. It’s fun and somewhat informal, and there’s such a huge variety of employers that there is usually at least one organization that students will have an interest in. The fairs are back-to-back, with the Government and Public Interest Fair first and the Legal Employer Fair the following night.

Q: What is your favorite part of working with Nebraska Law students? 

TE: Every year I get to work with a new class of smart and motivated people. Some arrive with very specific goals that we get to help them pursue. Many others arrive with only a vague idea of what lawyers do. I love hosting our Exploring Opportunities programming and introducing students to a world of possibilities. It is true that you can do almost anything with a law degree!  

KM: Sorry not sorry to all the other law schools out there, but we just have the best students. I am consistently impressed by the things they accomplish during and after law school (and sometimes before as well). Beyond that, they are thoughtful and kind, which makes it easy to work with them and root for their success.

Q: How has Nebraska Law created opportunities for students hoping to go into public interest? 

KM: We are lucky to have a Dean who is invested in making Nebraska Law the best school in the country for students who want to work in public interest, and this has been a major focal point of our Advancing Justice Initiative. We have added to the curriculum in recent years and are working on creating a program of concentrated study in Public Interest Law. This past year, we also created the Nebraska Law Public Interest Scholars Program, which offers five incoming students each year financial support, individualized assistance, and unique programming and networking opportunities alongside a group of upper-class scholars/peer mentors. Next year, the law college will be launching a new Journal on Advancing Justice. And finally, while we have been providing financial support for unpaid summer public interest work for many years, thanks to a recent, generous gift from the Acklie Foundation, we’ll be able to expand this support to provide more money to more students who are doing a broader range of public sector work. 

Q: How has the approach to career development evolved over the years? 

TE: When I first started the office was called “Career Services” but we changed to “Career Development.” Our mission is larger than simply offering discreet services like a resume review or a mock interview.  We want to help students develop as professionals and develop a career strategy not just secure a single job.  When students graduate, our hope is that they know their strengths, they can articulate what makes them uniquely qualified as a candidate, and they have the skills to thrive in a professional work environment.

Dean Richard Moberly with Judge Bishop.

Judge Riko Bishop, ’92, shares reflections as Multicultural Homecoming honoree

07 Dec 2023    

Judge Riko E. Bishop, ’92, was named the 2023 multicultural homecoming honoree for the College of Law. Judge Bishop represents the first Judicial District on the Nebraska Court of Appeals. She has held the position since her appointment in 2013 and previously practiced at Perry Guthery Haase & Gessford, P.C., L.L.O.

Bishop has been a constant supporter of the College and its students in her time as an alumna. She has served as a volunteer judge for the National Moot Court Team and Grether Moot Court Competition and delivered the keynote address at spring commencement in 2021. Additionally, Bishop taught at Nebraska Law as an adjunct instructor and frequently visits as a guest speaker.

Looking back, Bishop said her time at Nebraska Law set her on track and gave her the foundation for the career she’s built. Part of that foundation came from her interactions with people from different backgrounds and perspectives.

“Seeing where I am today, I just feel a great loyalty to the school for helping me build my life,” she said. “The thinking that you do here takes you out of whatever box you were in and expands your world, and once that happens, the sky is the limit.”

Bishop finds great joy in giving back to the College, she said, and feels a strong tie to the National Moot Court Team in particular. She was a member of the team in 1992 when the group won the regional competition as well as the silver bowl in the Best Brief Competition at nationals.

Part of the reason she remains involved at Nebraska Law is the support she received from faculty in her time as a student. She makes it a priority to keep in touch with that close-knit community.

“We had professors who made you feel like you were part of a family,” she said. “While they were rigorous in how they were teaching us, they were always very welcoming.”

For students who may one day pursue judgeship, Bishop said it’s key to build a solid reputation and remain professional at all times. While you can be a zealous advocate, you can simultaneously show courtesy and kindness.

“While it is a profession of adversarial processes, we need more people who will remain professional no matter the situation,” she said.

As for those 1Ls who may feel overwhelmed or nervous, Bishop can relate. She recalled a moment in her 1L year when she was cold-called for the first time and nearly passed out in the middle of class. Although she can laugh about it now, she understands how intimidating the law school environment can initially seem.

“It was so representative of that emotional turmoil that a lot of new law students have, with the excitement of coming to law school but also the fear of being able to handle everything,” she said. “If students feel that fear, they should take a deep breath, try to relax, and know that it is all going to be O.K.”

Professor Jessica Shoemaker headshot

Shoemaker and Rural Reconciliation Project host third Law & Rurality Workshop

04 Dec 2023    

Professor Jessica Shoemaker and University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law professor Hannah Haksgaard hosted the third annual Law & Rurality Workshop on November 17.

The goal of the workshop is to create a space for scholars whose work engages with law and its relation to rural people and places. This year, the workshop included works in progress from scholars in the United States, Canada, England, and India.

In addition to serving as moderator for the “Systems and Structures” conversations, Shoemaker presented her early-stage project, “Privatizing the Countryside: The Disappearance of Rural Public Space.”

Also representing Nebraska Law were Professor Anthony Schutz, and Professor Danielle Jefferis who presented her project, “Outsider Policing: Surveillance and Suspicion in Rural Northern Ireland.”

Professor Michelle Paxton headshot

Paxton publishes article on rural legal deserts

29 Nov 2023    

Professor Michelle Paxton has published Preventing Legal Deserts in Our Rural Communities with the American Bar Association Litigation Section.

The article discusses the unique challenges faced by rural attorneys, including isolation and the lack of support, while also discussing the challenge rural communities face in addressing a severe lack of attorneys.

Those challenges are amplified for juvenile court. Children in rural areas are 1.7 times more likely to experience maltreatment than children in urban communities and experience poverty at significantly higher rates.

Paxton shares the Children’s Justice Attorney Education Fellowship Program as one model used to address the legal inequity for rural areas.

Professor Korey Taylor

Taylor stresses the importance of engagement, personal development

28 Nov 2023    

Professor Korey Taylor joined the College of Law faculty in August 2023. He teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Criminal Adjudication. Prior to joining the faculty, Taylor worked as a public defender for 13 years in Omaha, Nebraska and Orlando, Florida. In these jurisdictions, he practiced in the areas of criminal and juvenile parental rights law. 

The connection between his practice and teaching is clear, as he has relied on the basics of courses like criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence every day to advocate for clients. 

“I'm able to use the same knowledge, and instead of advocating for clients and mentoring attorneys, I'll be able to mentor students and help them to understand the law going forward,” he said. 

For his work as president of the Midlands (Black) Bar Association, Taylor received the 2023 Nebraska State Bar Association Diversity Award. He is a member of the Executive Council of the Omaha Bar Association, Chair of the 2023 Nebraska State Bar Association (NSBA) Annual Meeting, and a legislative Delegate in the NSBA House of Delegates. 

Engaging with the community, Taylor said, motivates lawyers and law students to develop both personally and professionally. 

“You're here for your education. So that's first and foremost, but at the same time, you need to make sure that you have a holistic view to build your reputation,” he said. “Law school is what you make it.” 

Taylor also currently serves as a board member of Community Alliance, an Omaha-based non-profit that focuses on the mental health and wellness of in-need community members. The legal profession can be stressful, and Taylor emphasizes to students the importance of taking care of yourself. 

“The support system that you had before you got to law school, make sure that you don't lose track of those people and that will help you move forward,” he said. 

Taylor’s research interests include criminal law and due process, and diversity and inclusion in the law and the legal profession. Specifically, he hopes to look at disparities in sentencing in relation to probation as well as fairness and equity in judicial appointments. 

Professor Atiba Ellis speaks at the College of Law

Law and Democracy series examines issues in constitutional, election law

22 Nov 2023    

The College’s Law and Democracy Series, now in its second year, invites a wide range of speakers to address the degradation of democracy, the deep polarization in our political culture, and the role of lawyers in preserving and thinking about democracy and the rule of law. This series is provided through generous support from Ron and the late Barb Shaefer and in partnership with the Nebraska Law chapters of the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society. 

Discussions in this series cover such topics as election law, the possibility of a constitutional convention, and roundups of recent Supreme Court cases. 

The series featured speakers such as Jessica Ring Amunson, Co-Chair of Jenner & Block LLP’s Appellate and Supreme Court Practice and Chair of its Election Law and Redistricting Practice. Amunson spoke in February on the Supreme Court’s election law jurisprudence, including how that jurisprudence has shifted as the Court has changed in recent years, with a particular focus on two cases — Moore v. Harper and Merrill v. Milligan. 

“I think it's really terrific that the law school is doing this series, because I personally believe this is the most important issue of our time,” she said. 

Later in the semester, Case Western Reserve University School of Law professor Atiba Ellis (pictured) examined the parameters of the ideological conflict between colorblindness and race-consciousness as frames for advancing or distorting democracy. 

“The value of wanting an inclusive democracy seems in conflict with this value of colorblindness,” he said. “I want to explore that further.” 

The Federalist Society welcomed the Honorable Judge Chad Readler, 6th Cir. Court of Appeals Judge and former acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, and Mr. Matt Whitaker, former acting U.S. Attorney General, to Nebraska Law in October to discuss their experiences working at the Department of Justice. 

This fall’s Law and Democracy events touched on the inner and outer work of democracy, diversity statements and the first amendment and how to plant democracy in sustainable soil. Nebraska Law Professor Eric Berger, a constitutional scholar, said the series provides a vital platform for discussion. 

“Democracy is at a crisis point in both the United States and many countries abroad. Lawyers play a crucial role in preserving democracy. It is therefore critical for our law students and for the broader legal community in Nebraska to engage with the degradation of democracy, the deep polarization in our political culture, and the threats those developments pose to the rule of law,” he said. “We hope that the Law and Democracy Series encourages law students and the broader community to think carefully about these vital issues—and about the role that each of us can play in trying to preserve democracy.”