News Type:

Langvardt’s Article Published in Journal of Free Speech Law

26 Aug 2021    

Professor Kyle Langvardt’s article Can the First Amendment Scale? has been published by the Journal of Free Speech Law, a peer-edited law journal.

The article is part of a symposium on free speech and social media platform regulation. A brief synopsis is below:

American judges today preside over a laissez-faire regime of “editorial discretion” for private media entities. That approach promotes freedom of speech when applied to entities such as newspapers that handle content at a relatively small scale. But applied to entities such as Facebook that handle millions of items of third-party content a day, the laissez-faire approach threatens free speech by concentrating unchecked censorial power in the hands of a few companies. That outcome is probably avoidable, but only at the price of difficult transformations in First Amendment law that seem to carry their own significant risks. These changes will include a weakening in the editorial concept and a diminished role for the judiciary in defining the public law of free speech.

Kelly Shanahan headshot

Shanahan Awarded 2021 Animal Legal Defense Fund Scholarship

25 Aug 2021    

Kelly Shanahan, ’23, has been awarded an Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) Advancement of Animal Law Scholarship. This award is presented annually to leaders of the ALDF student chapters who have demonstrated a commitment to ALDF’s mission, “to advance the interests and protect the lives of animals through the legal system.”

In 2020-2021, Shanahan was the vice president of the Nebraska Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and is currently the chapter’s president. This summer, Shanahan was an intern for the Earth Law Center, and she is working with the Animal Welfare Institute’s farmed animal program this fall.

Shanahan’s interest in animal law began after work for the University of Minnesota’s raptor center as a wildlife educator and naturalist. After working with birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Endangered Species Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, she became passionate about wildlife conservation and environmental protection.

Jonathan Marshfield headshot

Marshfield’s Article Accepted by University of Pennsylvania Law Review

24 Aug 2021    

Professor Jonathan Marshfield’s article America’s Misunderstood Constitutional Right was accepted by the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

The abstract for the article is below:

In contemporary rights jurisprudence and theory, the Fourteenth Amendment and the Federal Bill of Rights are most frequently conceptualized as bulwarks against majoritarian abuses.  From Brown v. Board of Education to Obergefell v. Hodges and even District of Columbia v. Heller, federal rights are primarily understood as enforceable legal constraints on popular majorities (especially intra-state majorities).  Viewed through this lens, state constitutional rights are often dismissed as fundamentally dysfunctional because they are too easily amended through majoritarian political processes to constrain popular majorities.  After all, what good is a state constitutional right to marriage equality, for example, if it can be quickly eliminated by a majority vote?

This article provides the first dedicated assessment of this perspective on state constitutional rights by drawing on a largely neglected set of sources:  the debates of all known state constitutional conventions where state bills of rights were forged and reformed (105 conventions from 1818 to 1984).    These sources suggest that prevailing critiques of state constitutional rights are misguided and limit our understanding of American public law.  Although the Federal Bill of Rights may function as an important constraint on popular majorities, state bills of rights serve a different purpose.  They were created primarily as a device for democratic majorities to control wayward government officials and representatives.  State bills of rights were not designed to operate as higher law beyond the reach of legitimate democratic majorities.  To the contrary, they were built to function as higher law beyond the reach of government, but always within the immediate reach of the people.  

Excavating this perspective on state bills of rights not only places them in their proper historical and theoretical context, but it also disentangles them from their federal counterparts and enables more sophisticated inquiries into how constitutional rights function within our federal system.  These findings also have timely implications for federal and state rights jurisprudence.  With the Supreme Court now likely to reevaluate the breadth of certain federal protections – perhaps in favor of giving state courts more space to develop state constitutional rights – it is important that we have clarity regarding the deep structure of state constitutional rights.  My findings show that despite well-intentioned exhortations from prominent judges and scholars, state constitutional rights are not built to provide an alternative corpus of meaningful counter-majoritarian protections – at least not in the same way as federal constitutional rights.

Professor Michelle Paxton headshot

Grant Will Expand Access to Attorneys in Rural Areas

17 Aug 2021    

The Children’s Justice Attorney Education program, a partnership of the Nebraska College of Law and the Center on Children, Families and the Law, will increase the availability and accessibility of court-appointed and juvenile county attorneys thanks to a grant from the Aviv Foundation. The CJAE will support juvenile attorneys to better serve rural children and families, including low-income, Latinx and Indigenous populations.

CJAE was one of two Nebraska projects chosen from the more than 389 proposals submitted for the Springboard Prize for Child Welfare.

“The CJAE will build on the proven practices of the Children’s Justice Clinic,” said Michelle Paxton, director of the clinic and the CJAE. “We plan to provide rural attorneys extensive education in federal and state child welfare laws, along with invaluable information and insights into the subjects necessary to become strong advocates.”

Attorneys participating in the program will receive training in trauma and child development, substance use, domestic violence, complex family dynamics and the Indian Child Welfare Act. During the eight-month program, attorneys will participate in expert case consultation and reflective practice, in which participants reflect on personal biases, thoughts and feelings about cases and use this expanded awareness to improve their advocacy.

“CCFL is equipped with a team of experts that will provide guidance to CJAE participants throughout the program,” said Eve Brank, CCFL director and professor of psychology. “CCFL’s psychologists, attorneys, child welfare practitioners, social workers, mental health practitioners and former state wards will consult with the program’s participants to allow rural attorneys an opportunity to address complex legal questions in their cases while integrating social and psychological factors to increase their child advocacy skills for underrepresented communities.” 

The CJAE is the second project in which the College of Law and CCFL have partnered. The first partnership, the Children’s Justice Clinic, was established in 2017 to train students to serve as guardians ad litem in Lancaster County Juvenile Court.

“We are thrilled to once again be partnering with CCFL to improve the quality of child welfare representation in Nebraska,” said Richard Moberly, dean of the College of Law. “Our mission to develop inclusive leaders goes beyond our current students. The CJAE program reaches into rural communities and helps develop the leaders who are serving the state’s most vulnerable children.”

The innovative CJAE program comes as local, state and federal entities are recognizing the life-changing impact of attorney education in child welfare. In a 2020 survey by Attorney Services, Nebraska judges reported a need for highly educated attorneys, with specialized training in child welfare, to serve in juvenile court. This is particularly true in rural areas. The CJAE program hopes to change that by providing rural attorneys with the knowledge and skills to advocate effectively in juvenile court, and to increase interest and commitment among rural attorneys to work in child welfare.

Attorneys participating in the eight-month CJAE program will receive a stipend at the completion of the program.

Alan Dugger and Haley Huson headshots

Dugger, Huson Recognized as Outstanding Law Student Advocates by Nebraska State Bar Association

17 Aug 2021    

Alan Dugger, ’22, and Haley Huson, ’22, were recognized with the Nebraska State Bar Association (NSBA) Tenant Assistance Project Outstanding Law Student Advocate Award. This award recognizes law students each semester who have made a significant contribution to the Tenant Assistance Project (TAP) and exceed expectations in their effort to support the program and contribute to its success.

Alan Dugger has been an integral contributor to TAP since its early stages in summer 2020 while completing his clerkship with the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights. He continued to contribute through his clerkship during the academic year and as a pro bono law student this summer. Alan’s contributions have been invaluable and his dedication to TAP has been unrelenting.

Haley Huson worked as Professor Ryan Sullivan’s research assistant and provided support in tracking past and on-going eviction cases, including the creation of over 200+ eviction defense packets which are critical to TAP volunteers and attorneys. The CDC moratorium was extended twice during Haley’s tenure, resulting in a massive influx in continued cases for which Haley took responsibility of tracking and prepping.

Magilton Part of Research Team to Receive NSRI Grant Funding

13 Aug 2021    

University of Nebraska Omaha Assistant Political Science Professor Michelle Black is leading a research team focused on multi-actor deterrence analysis. Elsbeth Magilton, ’11, the executive director of the Nebraska Governance and Technology Center and the Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law program is a contributing researcher.

 The National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska has awarded the project $25,000 as part of its inaugural independent research and development (IRAD) funding.


Project description:

The multi-actor deterrence analysis methodology was developed and tested during the project, “Enabling Coherent Deterrence – A Multi-Actor Approach (2019-2020)” funded through NSRI by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  

Through NSRI IRAD funding, the approved and tested methodology will be updated based on feedback from NATO and additional interdisciplinary research. With a focus on automation to increase efficiency, additional innovative and complex scenarios will be developed to further test the methodology and increase the speed of analysis. 

The long-term objective is to offer a novel and comprehensive framework and methodology to aid U.S. deterrence practitioners, potentially allowing U.S. agencies to integrate decision calculi and deterrence objectives of multiple non-state and state actors.

Extended project details for all projects being funded is available at

Amy Sonnenfeld headshot

Sonnenfeld Named NSBA Rise Award Recipient

09 Aug 2021    

Amy Sonnenfeld, ’21, has been named the Nebraska State Bar Association (NSBA) 2021 Rise Award Recipient. The Rise Award is given to a law student from each of Nebraska’s law schools for their exemplary dedications to, and contributions in support of, programs sponsored by the Nebraska Lawyers Foundation throughout their law school career.

Sonnenfeld was nominated by Professor Ryan Sullivan for her contributions to the Tenants Assistance Project (TAP) and her contributions to the Volunteer Lawyers Project’s Lawyers in the City program.

Sonnenfeld has been a vital contributor to TAP since May of 2020. She first assisted through the College’s Civil Clinic, but continued to volunteer following that experience. As a teaching assistant, Sonnenfeld contributed greatly the TAP program, supporting law students in their case analysis and preparation for eviction hearings, while still taking on a few cases herself. She continued to volunteer for TAP through the College’s holiday break before accepting an externship with VLP to continue her work. In her extern role, Sonnenfeld assisted in facilitating TAP in Lincoln, both behind the scenes and at the courthouse.

In addition to her work with TAP, Sonnenfeld volunteered for the Lawyer’s in the City event. As a 2L she was unable to provide direct legal assistance, but instead assisted in conducting intake interviews and performing other critical tasks to ensure that every individual was provided services.

Professor Kristen Blankley

Blankley and Votruba Invited to Ohio State Symposium

06 Aug 2021    

Professor Kristen Blankley and Assistant Professor of Psychology Ashley Votruba have been invited to present at a 2022 symposium hosted by Ohio State’s Divided Community Project, in conjunction with Stanford Law School’s Gould Center for Conflict Resolution, the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program, and the Ohio State Journal of Dispute Resolution. They will be presenting on the topic of “Discussing Race in Rural and Non-Diverse Communities” for the symposium focused on Collaborative Efforts on Race and Race Equity.

Professor Kristen Blankley

Blankley Contributes to Mediation Guide

30 Jul 2021    

Professor Kristen M. Blankley contributed the chapter Evaluating Ethically in the newly released book Mediation Ethics: A Practitioner’s Guide, published by ABA Publishing and edited by Omer Shapira. Professor Blankley’s chapter considers ethical implications for the practice of giving evaluations in mediation.

College of Law entrance

Dean's Message to Our Community

22 Jul 2021    

Dear College of Law Community,

You may have heard about the proposed resolution to the Board of Regents regarding critical race theory. University President Ted Carter and the four Chancellors of NU’s campuses have released a related statement that I fully support. It is their role to work with the Board of Regents on behalf of the University, so I will not say anything here specifically about the proposed resolution and will rely on our university leadership to appropriately protect academic freedom and UNL’s commitment to diversity.

That said, I do want to speak to broader concerns that have been raised to me directly from members of the law school community. In doing so, I must emphasize that the Nebraska Law faculty is committed to teaching critical thought, analysis, and reasoning. These skills are foundational to legal education and effective lawyering, and in my view they cannot be taught in ways that ignore considerations of race, justice, and equality.

Examining theories and arguments from all angles - identifying their strengths and weaknesses - happens in each of our classrooms and will continue to happen in each of our classrooms every day. We will continue to discuss and debate our system of laws and the best ways to interpret those laws in light of our history and the impact of that history on today’s world. It is only through these types of rigorous exchanges that we will develop leaders who are truly inclusive and who fulfill our commitment to advancing justice. 

I hope your summer is going well. I am very much looking forward to your return in a few weeks. Until then, please take care and be well.

Kind regards,

Richard Moberly

Richard C. & Catherine S. Schmoker Professor of Law
University of Nebraska College of Law
P.O. Box 830902
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
Twitter: @Richard_Moberly

Alyssa Foust and Sarah Meier headshots

Foust and Meier Receive Koley Jessen Entrepreneurship Award

20 Jul 2021    

Alyssa Foust, ’21, and Sarah Meier, ’21, are the recipients of the 2020-21 Koley Jessen Entrepreneurship Award.

The annual award recognizes students participating in the Weibling Entrepreneurship Clinic for demonstrating exceptional legal skills, providing outstanding service to clients, and furthering the mission of the Clinic.

During their time in the Entrepreneurship Clinic, Foust and Meier served their clients with diligence and distinction, understanding client goals and addressing challenges with intensity and professionalism.

Rachel Tomlinson Dick headshot

Dick Awarded 2021 Ms. JD Public Interest Scholarship

19 Jul 2021    

Rachel Tomlinson Dick, ’22, has been awarded a 2021 Ms. JD Public Interest Scholarship.

The Ms. JD Public Interest Scholarship program provides a stipend to law students as they pursue careers in public interest. Program participants will work at public interest organizations the summer between their second and third years of law school.

This summer Dick is working as a law clerk at the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest. Under the supervision of Nebraska Appleseed’s legal director, Robbie McEwen, ’11, she is conducting research and analysis to support the Center’s future litigation work and assists with current litigation as needed.

Following law school, Dick, who is pursuing concentrations in both constitutional law and litigation, hopes to focus on civil rights litigation and policy work to help promote greater equity in her home state of Nebraska. She is particularly passionate about addressing LGBTQIA+ rights, racial justice, mass incarceration and housing issues.  

Professor Kevin Ruser headshot

Ruser Releases Guide for Criminal Law Practitioners

19 Jul 2021    

Professor Kevin Ruser published the 2021 edition of his book, The Nebraska Criminal Law Practitioner’s Guide to Representing Non-Citizens in State Court Proceedings. The Guide is designed to help Nebraska criminal law practitioners meet their Sixth Amendment obligation to advise their non-citizen clients of the immigration consequences of state criminal proceedings in which they are involved.

The Guide consists of two parts: (1) a 260-page textual discussion of the immigration system and the law governing immigration consequences of criminal proceedings and (2) charts that analyze over 400 Nebraska criminal statutes and municipal ordinances for immigration consequences.

The Guide is available for download and will be updated periodically as new developments occur.

Elsbeth Magilton

Magilton lectures on military space issues, from Auckland NZ to Offutt Air Force Base

15 Jul 2021    

headshot of professor Jessica Shoemaker

Shoemaker Elected Secretary of the Association of Law, Property, and Society

02 Jul 2021    

Professor Jessica Shoemaker was elected secretary of the Association of Law, Property, and Society (ALPS). Shoemaker has been the program chair and a board member since 2018.

In her new role, Shoemaker will continue as program chair, while also serving as a member of the executive board. She will progress on a four-year track within the executive board and will also serve as treasurer, vice-president and president in future years.

ALPS is an international association that seeks, through a peer-reviewed journal and annual meetings, to encourage dialogue across and among people in many disciplines who are interested in property law, policy, and theory.

headshot of professor Frans von der Dunk

Von der Dunk Joins A Hague Institute of Global Justice Council

02 Jul 2021    

Nebraska space law professor Fran von der Dunk has joined the Off-World Approach Council at the Hague Institute of Global Justice. Council members provide the Institute with the experience necessary to guide their space justice initiatives and projects. The Off-World Approach will be vital in helping the Institute serve civil society on issues that could potentially lead to a stable, equal, transparent, and predictable international framework utilized in accelerating the global space enterprise. The Council is co-chaired by Ken Hodgins, a regular panelist at the Nebraska Space Law Conference in Washington D.C.

Headshot of Professor Stefanie Pearlman.

Pearlman Reappointed to Nebraska Access to Justice Commission

03 Jun 2021    

Professor Kristen Blankley headshot.

Blankley Named Editor-In-Chief of ADR and Employment Law

02 Jun 2021    

Professor Kristen Blankley has been appointed the editor-in-chief of the third edition ADR and Employment Law by the ABA Section of Labor and Employment. The treatise, is published by Bloomberg with the cooperation of the Section. Professor Blankley authored a chapter on Mediation Ethics in the treatise and is a former Senior Editor of the book.

Elsbeth Magilton

Magilton selected as a NSRI Research Fellow

01 Jun 2021    

Headshots of students: Alan Dugger, Tessa Lengeling, Sarah O'Neill and Amy Sonnenfeld

Clinical Legal Education Association Recognizes Dugger, Lengeling, O’Neill and Sonnenfeld

19 May 2021    

Nebraska Law students Alan Dugger, Tessa Lengeling, Sarah O’Neill and Amy Sonnenfeld received recognition from the Clinical Legal Education Association for their work on the Tenants Assistance Project (TAP).


CLEA Excellence in Public Interest Case or Project Award – Honorable Mention
TAP and Dugger, ’22, Lengeling, ’21, O’Neill, ’21, and Sonnenfeld, ’21, have received Honorable Mention for the CLEA Excellence in Public Interest Case or Project Award. This award recognizes a case or project that contributes to the public good and may be given to an individual law student or group of law students.

TAP was developed to expand and improve legal representation for tenants facing eviction, and Dugger, Lengeling, O’Neill, and Sonnenfeld have been integral to its success. Collectively, this group of four students created or supervised the creation of over 500 eviction defense packets and covered over 200 shifts at the courthouse.

When a tenant arrives at the courthouse, a community volunteer stationed at the elevator door will ask if they are there for a landlord-tenant case. Tenants then work with the community volunteer to complete some initial paperwork and are introduced to a TAP volunteer attorney or student attorney. To date, every tenant who has appeared for a hearing and sought the assistance from TAP has been provided legal representation.

More than 60 area attorneys and several dozen senior-certified law students from the University of Nebraska College of Law, including Dugger, Lengeling, O’Neill and Sonnenfeld, have provided assistance or entered appearances as part of TAP. Since April 2020, the Project has assisted nearly 450 families avoid or delay eviction.


CLEA Outstanding Externship Student Award
Amy Sonnenfeld is a recipient of the 2021 CLEA Outstanding Externship Student Award. This award is given for excellence in externship fieldwork and for exceptionally thoughtful, self-reflective participation in an accompanying externship seminar. 

Sonnenfeld was nominated by the College of Law for her externship with the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP), a statewide pro bono program of the Nebraska State Bar Association. VLP facilitates the Tenants Assistance Project in Lancaster County.

Through her externship, Sonnenfeld worked as the on-site coordinator of TAP, greeting volunteer attorneys and student attorneys and pairing them with unrepresented tenants. Sonnenfeld has created templates for attorney volunteers, informational packets for tenants, and tracks volunteer data and case outcome so that her supervisor, the previous on-site coordinator, can replicate the TAP in other areas of our state.


CLEA Outstanding Clinic Student Award
Tessa Lengeling and Sarah O’Neill are recipients of the 2021 CLEA Outstanding Clinic Student Award. This award is given for excellence in the fieldwork component of a legal clinic, the quality of a student’s thoughtfulness and self-reflection and their contributions to the clinical community.

Lengeling and O’Neill were nominated for their work as co-leaders of the Civil Clinic’s Clean Slate Project, their estate planning services provided to veterans through the Wills for Heroes program, and their efforts in assisting families avoid eviction through the Tenant Assistance Project.

These two students continued to work on eviction cases over the holiday break after their semester in the Civil Clinic had concluded and were ultimately hired as teaching assistants for the spring semester. In these roles, they mentored other law students volunteering with the program and handled much of the logistic and scheduling effort. They also continued to represent TAP clients and cover eviction hearings all the way up to the week of graduation.