Nebraska Law's Pro Bono Work Earns National Honors
27 Feb 2019
The University of Nebraska College of Law was recognized as a Pro Bono Leader for its dedication to pro bono work and participation in the American Bar Association’s Free Legal Answers program.
The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service presents annual recognition to individual attorneys, law firms, and law departments that have provided extraordinary pro bono services through the ABA Free Legal Answers program. This program aims to ensure that individuals with low incomes receive the legal help they need.
As part of this virtual advice clinic, users post their civil legal questions to their state’s website. Attorney volunteers who are authorized to provide pro bono assistance select questions to answer and provide legal information and advice.
The Pro Bono Leader distinction recognizes organizations that have collectively answered 75 or more questions during the calendar year. The Nebraska College of Law answered 135 total questions last year and is the only law school to receive this recognition. Professors Kristen Blankley, Kevin Ruser and Ryan Sullivan each participated in this initiative, as did a number of Nebraska Law students.
“Our students and faculty have demonstrated a dedication to our community through their participation in this program,” said Dean Richard Moberly. “I am extremely proud of Professor Sullivan for helping to lead this effort.”
Professor Ryan Sullivan also received individual recognition as a Pro Bono Leader, by answering over 50 questions last year. In addition to dedicating his own time to answering questions, Professor Sullivan also supervised law students participating in this program.
Sullivan, ’10, Recognized for Service to Veterans
26 Feb 2019
Professor Ryan Sullivan, ’10, was recognized for his work with our Veterans Coffee & Counsel Program and his own pro bono work representing Veteran clients.
Scott Smith, a former client, organized the celebration, “I want to show Professor Sullivan how important his work is, not only for me but for Veterans across our state.
As part of the celebration, Professor Sullivan was presented with an American flag that was flown over the Nebraska State Capitol in his honor.
Some of the special guests at this event were Ken Colson, Veterans Outreach Specialist at the Lincoln Vet Center; Michelle Waite, Assistant to the Chancellor for Government and Military Relations; Senator Tom Brewer; Scott Smith, former client; and Joe Brownell, Director of the Military and Veteran Success Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Ruser, Alumni Named to Civil Justice Reform Committee
19 Feb 2019
The Nebraska Supreme Court has formed a Civil Justice Reform Committee with Justice Jonathan Papik serving as chairperson. The committee, which is housed within the Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission, will analyze the civil justice system in Nebraska and consider methods for improvement. In particular, the committee will consider recommendations made by the national Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators to make state justice systems more innovative and cost-effective.
“Many state court systems all around the country are taking a hard look at their civil justice systems and considering whether the system can be made to run more efficiently, both in terms of cost and time,” stated Justice Papik. “I am looking forward to working with this committee to do the same in Nebraska.”
Committee members include:
Justice Johnathan Papik, Chairperson
Judge Ryan Carson, District Court
Judge James Doyle, '81, District Court
Timothy Engler, '79, Attorney
Renee Eveland, '05, Attorney
Judge Thomas Harmon, County Court
Troy Hawk, '09, Clerk of the District Court
Senator Mike Hilgers
Judge Darla Ideus, '92, District Court
Amie Martinez, '94 Attorney
Jane Martin-Hoffman, Mediator
Carole McMahon-Boies, '82, Attorney Services Division
Milo Mumgaard, Legal Aid of Nebraska
Ron Murtaugh, Judicial Administrator
Prof. Kevin Ruser, '79, Nebraska College of Law
Andrew Sibbernsen, Attorney
Corey Steel, Nebraska State Court Administrator
Judge Derek Vaughn, '99, County Court
James Welsh, Attorney
Judge Horacio Wheelock, District Court
Newell, Wurdeman Win Regional Client Counseling Competition and Advance to National Competition
18 Feb 2019
The team of Ella Newell and Andrew Wurdeman, both 2L students, won the American Bar Association's 2019 Region 8 Client Counseling Competition. This marks Nebraska's 18th regional win. They will move on to represent Nebraska Law and Region 8 at the 2019 ABA National Client Counseling Competition in Waco, Texas in March. There they will face the winning teams from each of the ABA's other 11 regional competitions.
Katie Van Balen, 3L, and Noah Rasmussen, 2L, also competed in the Region 8 competition and finished in second place. The teams are coached by professors Alan Frank, Craig Lawson, and Brett Stohs, and adjunct professor Audrey Polt, '12.
The 2018-2019 topic is Professional Responsibility of Legal Professionals.
Lepard Gives Human Rights Talk in Brazil
18 Feb 2019
In late November 2018 Professor Brian Lepard gave a talk at a major international conference on human rights held at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (“PUCRS”) in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The conference was organized by PUCRS law professor Prof. Dr. Ingo Wolfgang Sarlet, a renowned expert on human rights law.
The conference was held to commemorate both the seventieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948, and the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of Brazil’s 1988 Federal Constitution, which provides guarantees of fundamental rights. The conference included many high-level judges, lawyers, and law professors from Brazil as well as other countries, among them Prof. Dr. Luis Roberto Barroso of the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil, Brazil’s highest court dealing with constitutional issues.
In his remarks, Professor Lepard reflected on the legal status of the Universal Declaration, including its role as evidence of customary international law. He is now working on a paper based on his talk that will be published in proceedings of the conference.
Professor Lepard’s participation in the conference was an outgrowth of an ongoing partnership between the College of Law and the PUCRS law school. Earlier in November, Dr. Arthur Neto of PUCRS spoke at the College of Law on “The Current Debate on Brazilian Tax Reform and the Brazil Constitution: A Comparison with International and U.S. Approaches.”
Professor Lepard is the Harold W. Conroy Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Nebraska College of Law and a recognized expert on international law. His most recent book is Reexamining Customary International Law, which he edited and to which he contributed several chapters. The book was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.
Dr. Arthur Neto of PUCRS, Professor Brian Lepard, and Prof. Dr. Luis Roberto Barroso, a member of the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil, at the human rights conference at PUCRS.
Professor Brian Lepard (left) giving a talk on human rights at PUCRS in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Iraola, ’19, Named Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation 2019 Justice for All Fellow
14 Feb 2019
Nicole Iraola, ’19, has been named a member of the 2019 class of Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Justice for All Fellows. Through the fellowship program, new attorneys focus on urgent legal issues facing Ohioans in two-year fellowships beginning in September 2019.
Since 1999, the Foundation has sponsored fellows, who work on a variety of legal challenges for Ohioans struggling to make ends meet. More than 80 percent of the fellows funded by the Foundation remain in public service today, working in the nonprofit sector, for the government, and for legal aids around the state.
“Our organization is committed to the proposition of justice for all,” said Angie Lloyd, executive director of the Foundation. “Justice for All Fellows help ensure that equal justice under the law is a right, not a privilege.”
Iraola will work with immigrant communities in Ohio to both educate and provide legal help to immigrants. A bilingual Latina, Iraola will regularly visit detention centers and conduct “Know Your Rights” presentations to detainees.
"I am very excited to begin the next chapter of my life and to fulfill my dream of becoming an immigration attorney,”said Iraola. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have gained from my education at the University of Nebraska College of Law.
Blumel, '89, to Serve as Dvorak Law Group Managing Partner
04 Feb 2019
Dvorak Law Group, LLC is pleased to announce that Jeffrey J. Blumel, '89, will serve as Managing Partner of the firm, effective January 1, 2019.
Blumel's practice focuses on civil litigation, trial practice, and dispute resolution. He received his J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law.
"Jeff brings a multitude of professional and practical legal experience to the firm. His relationships in the broader Nebraska legal community are unparalleled. He will provide the firm with a great platform as we expand the firm's footprint throughout Nebraska and beyond," says David M. Dvorak, partner with Dvorak Law Group.
Bring, '13, Becomes Partner at Heidman
04 Feb 2019
Heidman Law Firm announces the election of Jason D. Bring, '13, as a partner of the Sioux City firm, effective Jan. 1, 2019.
Bring is a member of the firm’s litigation practice group. His general practice includes commercial law, criminal law, administrative law, business law, real estate law, torts and personal injury.
He earned his J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law and his B.A. from Briar Cliff University.
Pederson, '80, Recognized by North Platte Public Schools Foundation
04 Feb 2019
David Pederson, '80, was named the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus for Outstanding Service to the North Platte Community by the North Platte Public Schools Foundation.
Pederson earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1980 and was sworn in to practice before the Nebraska Supreme Court, U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit that year. He has spent 38 years in private practice in North Platte.
While earning many accolades in his professional career, he also gives back at to the North Platte community. He was the president of the North Platte Public Schools Board of Education from 1993 to 1997, a founding member of the North Platte Public Schools Foundation as well as the Great Plains Health Care Foundation, chair of the Great Plains Health Board of Directors and the 2011 Nebraska Hospital Association Hospital Trustee of the Year. He is actively involved on his church council, Noon Rotary Club, Heartland Singers and the North Platte Community Playhouse.
According to the Foundation's press release, "Pederson truly believes that working to make North Platte a great community is as important as working in the community. He leads by example and has proven that it is possible to build a successful career while taking time to prioritize family and community. Pederson and his wife, Judy, are valuable assets to the North Platte community."
Langan, '11, Mahlin, '10, Tefft, '11, Named Dvorak Law Group Partners
04 Feb 2019
M. Thomas Langan II, Stephanie N. Mahlin, and Patrick A. Tefft have accepted invitations to become partners with the Dvorak Law Group, effective January 1, 2019.
Tom Langan's, '11, practice focuses on business and corporate law, intellectual property, and banking and finance. Langan graduated with his J.D. (with distinction) from the University of Nebraska College of Law.
Stephanie Mahlin's, '10, practice focuses on business and corporate law and intellectual property. Mahlin received her J.D. (highest distinction) from the University of Nebraska College of Law.
Pat Tefft's, '11, practice focuses on business and corporate law and construction law. Tefft received his J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law.
Audience serves as jury in 'Defamation Experience'
01 Feb 2019
The College of Law will host “The Defamation Experience” at 11 a.m. Feb. 6.
The play is a courtroom drama that explores issues of race, class, religion, gender and the law with a twist — the audience serves as the jury. The program, which includes audience deliberation and a facilitated discussion, is a unique opportunity to engage in civil discourse about pressing social issues.
The play centers on a defamation lawsuit between a south side African American female business owner and a wealthy Jewish north shore real estate developer. Following the 75-minute trial, the judge will lead the audience through deliberation. An audience vote will decide the outcome of the trial.
Since “The Defamation Experience” premiered in 2010, thousands of people nationwide have participated, examining themselves, preconceived concepts and responses, and the themes touched on by the play.
A limited number of tickets are available in the College of Law Dean’s Office. The performance is sponsored by the John Gradwohl Family and the College of Law’s Multi-Cultural Legal Society.
Wilson, '91, Named Partner of Carlson & Burnett, LLP
28 Jan 2019
Andrew "Andy" Wilson, '91, was announced as a new partner of Omaha law firm Carlson & Burnett, LLP.
Wilson is an Omaha native and 1991 graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Law with over twenty-five years of criminal and civil litigation experience. After starting his career with a firm in Des Moines, Andy moved back to Omaha in 1993 to join the Douglas County Public Defender's office. In that role, Andy's case load included serious felony offenses, including drug trafficking, murder, and sexual assault. In 2000, Andy moved into private practice and built a civil litigation practice focused on personal injury and insurance defense. He has an extensive trial background, including over forty jury trials as lead counsel. In 2013, Andy was awarded the Jury Trial of the Year award from the Office of Federal Public Defender. He is active in his church, the Millard Rotary Club and Omaha Central Legion Baseball, for which he currently serves as president.
Lepard Publishes Article in American Journal of International Law Unbound
23 Jan 2019
The online journal American Journal of International Law Unbound has published an article by Professor Brian Lepard entitled “Customary International Law: A Third World Perspective’: Reflections in Light of an Approach to CIL Based on Fundamental Ethical Principles.”
In the article Professor Lepard comments on and critiques an article published earlier in 2018 in the print edition of the American Journal of International Law by legal scholar B.S. Chimni. Lepard evaluates the strengths and potential shortcomings of Chimni’s arguments in light of an approach to customary international law that Lepard has developed in his writings that is based on fundamental ethical principles recognized in international law. Lepard discusses critically three of the key theses articulated by Chimni: First, that customary international law is inherently colonialist and inconsistent with the values of Third World peoples; second, that even contemporary customary international human rights law is a means of furthering global capitalism to the detriment of Third World peoples; and third, that the remedy for customary international law’s biases lies in the creation of a “postmodern” doctrine of customary international law that incorporates reference to the “juridical conscience of humankind.” Professor Lepard’s article can be found here.
The American Journal of International Law is one of the premier publications on international law in the United States. Professor Lepard is the Harold W. Conroy Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Nebraska College of Law and a recognized expert on international law. His most recent book is Reexamining Customary International Law, which he edited and to which he contributed several chapters. The book was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.
Crabtree, '72, Joins JAMS Denver Office
23 Jan 2019
C. Scott Crabtree ’72, was a trial attorney in the Denver metro area for 30 years before being appointed a Colorado District Court Judge in 2001. He retired at the end of June 2016. He is now a panelist with the national firm of JAMS in its Denver, Colorado office. While he was a sitting judge, he issued a ground-breaking order declaring Colorado’s statutory and constitutional prohibitions against same sex marriage unconstitutional under the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
Christensen, '18, Joins Baylor Evnen, LLP
23 Jan 2019
Jenna (Woitaszewski) Christensen, '18, has joined Baylor Evnen, LLP's Workers’ Compensation practice group. Christensen received her Juris Doctor from the University of Nebraska College of Law with high distinction in 2018. While attending law school, Christensen was a law clerk at Baylor Evnen, LLP and served roles on the Nebraska Law Review and the Nebraska Moot Court Board. She received her undergraduate degree with honors from Doane University, majoring in business administration, sociology, and law.
Magilton and White Awarded Inclusive Excellence Development Grant
18 Jan 2019
An interdisciplinary team from the College of Law and the Political Science Department has been awarded one of the University of Nebraska’s Inclusive Excellence Development Grants from the Office of Diversity, Access and Inclusion. Elsbeth Magilton, the Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law program Executive Director and Political Science faculty member Dr. Tyler White, will be implementing their proposal, “Recruiting, Retaining, and Supporting Women in the National Security Field” over the next two semesters. The proposal seeks to establish student programing and resources to provide career development and field-specific mentorship to women engaged in national security.
Magilton explained, “leaders throughout the government and the Department of Defense (DoD) have recently called for new and creative methods for thinking about national security strategies, with a particular focus in engaging young and diverse people in defense policy. The University of Nebraska, through our collaborations with DoD and the intelligence community, has a unique opportunity to use our time with students - undergraduate, to graduate, to doctoral - to create a more diverse and supportive pipeline into these career fields for female students.”
“In recent years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln there has been a major shift in enrollment into the Intelligence Community Scholars program, with a notable increase in female students. Unfortunately, we do not see those same numbers several years into the profession. The University has an opportunity to help enact change in the profession,” added Dr. White.
The project will focus on three core objectives to achieve their desired impact: visibility of female role models in the field, field-specific mentorship, and professional skills building. Efforts will include public panels, career development workshops, and more cross-department collaborations.
This is the second time Magilton and White have collaborated to bring national security focused opportunities to students; last March the team co-hosted the Deterrence and Assurance Academic Alliance conference on behalf of U.S. Strategic Command featuring primarily student and new-faculty research.
More information about the Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law program is available at law.unl.edu/spacecyberlaw. More information about Nebraska’s Intelligence Community Scholars program is available at nationalsecurity.unl.edu.
Husker Civic Challenge aims for 1.5M hours of service
17 Jan 2019
In commemoration of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s 150th year, the Center for Civic Engagement has challenged the university community to grow its helping handprint.
The Husker Civic Challenge is encouraging students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends of the university to record more than 1.5 million service hours during 2019.
“We want to be able to capture and record the impact of giving back to the state of Nebraska and beyond,” Linda Major, director of the Center for Civic Engagement, said.
The challenge began Jan. 1 and formally kicked off with the Husker Civic Challenge Service Fair Jan. 16, where students learned about volunteer opportunities with local nonprofit organizations.
Major said there will also be monthly events in which students can participate and record service hours, beginning with the MLK Reading Challenge Jan. 21 and a Valentines for Troops event in February. Additional events will be announced as they are finalized.
The university is using GivePulse, a civic service tracking website, to record service hours. Any person who wants to log hours toward the challenge can register with the site at unl.givepulse.com.
The website also lists volunteer opportunities from more than 400 local organizations, service events and service learning classes, tracking the hours given in real time. Users can log hours and get information via a GivePulse app, as well. Linda Moody, assistant director of civic engagement, has led the integration of GivePulse at the university and in the Lincoln community.
Major thinks the goal is reachable. Hours from service learning coursework and some student events, like the Big Event, have been estimated at around 900,000 per year.
“And that’s not accounting for service done by groups such as student organizations like Dance Marathon, and sororities and fraternities, and many others,” she said. “It will be interesting to see at the end how much service learning is happening on campus.”
Major encouraged the university community to broaden perceptions of service.
“Historically, we think about community service as working at a food bank or helping with the neighborhood cleanup,” Major said. “I think a lot of people serve in various capacities, on advisory boards or unpaid elected positions, for example, without thinking of it as service.”
Logging hours in GivePulse to show impact and volunteering will also help Nebraska reach a goal laid out by Chancellor Ronnie Green during the State of University address Jan. 15. Green said he would like to see Nebraska gain the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement, which recognizes institutions’ commitment to community engagement.
“If we seek that elective classification, GivePulse will serve a role in the application process and will have already recorded our impact,” Major said.
Scheer, '08, Named Partner at Woods & Aitken LLP
15 Jan 2019
Kari A. F. Scheer, ’08, has been named a partner at Woods & Aitken LLP. Scheer joined the firm as an Associate in 2013.
Scheer practices primarily in the areas of construction law and commercial litigation. She advocates for businesses of all sizes throughout court proceedings, mediations, and arbitrations. She also has experience litigating personal injury and labor and employment matters.
Scheer is admitted to practice law in the state and federal courts in Iowa and Nebraska, as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. She is an active member of the Eighth Circuit Bar Association where she serves on the Board of Directors. In 2008, she received her J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law with high distinction.
Since 1921, Woods & Aitken LLP has focused its practice of law on achieving long-term client success. This commitment to client service has also afforded Woods & Aitken LLP the opportunity to emerge as a regional and national leader in the practice of construction, telecommunications, labor and employment, real estate, and banking and finance law. Learn more at www.woodsaitken.com.
Cantone, '08, Featured in American Psychological Association's "Monitor on Psychology"
10 Jan 2019
Jason A. Cantone, '08, is the subject of a feature story in the January 2019 issue of Monitor on Psychology, a publication of the American Psychological Association. Cantone is a senior research associate for the Federal Judicial Center (FJC), an independent federal agency dedicated to identifying ways to streamline and inform the work of the federal judiciary.
The article, "Improving order in the courts," touches on Cantone's work at the FJC, how his combined experience in law and psychology supports his current work, and his experience helping judges in Uzbekistan.
Kramer, '11, Named Partner at Gast Johnson & Muffly PC
09 Jan 2019
Gast Johnson & Muffly PC, a leading civil practice law firm, is pleased to announce that Benjamin D. Kramer, '11, has become a shareholder in the firm.
Kramer joined the firm in 2015. His practice focuses on business, real estate and estate planning matters. Kramer is co-chair of the Pro Bono Program and president of the Young Lawyers Division for the Larimer County Bar Association. Kramer emphasizes a practical approach to representing clients, focusing on their specific objectives and offering creative solutions. Prior to joining Gast Johnson & Muffly, PC, Kramer worked in Lincoln, Nebraska practicing general civil law. A Fort Collins native, it was not difficult to convince his wife to move back to Colorado.
“I am honored to become a partner with a talented group of attorneys,” said Kramer. “I look forward to adding to a great firm and giving back to the community.”
Gast Johnson & Muffly is an AV® preeminent peer rated law firm with Martindale Hubbell® and was recently recognized as a Tier 1 selection in the 2019 “Best Law Firms” for Colorado in Real Estate Law by U.S. News - Best Lawyers®, which recognizes the top law firms in the country for professional excellence.