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Community Legal Education Project

Nebraska Law Students Teach Elementary Students Through Community Legal Education Project

05 Mar 2019    

The Community Legal Education Project (CLEP) provides law students with the opportunity to teach elementary students about the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and other legal issues.

Starting early during the spring semester, law students go into local elementary classrooms once a week to teach prepared lessons. The students engage in a discussion-based series of activities and games through which they explore the history and implications of the Constitution, the Bill or Rights, and specifically the way they structure the government, allocate rights, and provide for our various liberties.

“My classroom did a fantastic job of engaging in deep discussions about rights, the separation of powers, the intricacies of passing equitable legislation, and the implications of federalism,” said Carey Collingham, ’20. “The activities tied into their classroom curriculum very well, and seemed to enhance their comprehension of the subject matter. Despite having several years of experience working with 5th graders, I am always surprised how thoughtful and intuitive the students are when it comes to contemplating complex social matters.”

CLEP volunteers spend an hour every week over a five-week period in a 5th grade classroom at one of Lincoln’s Title I schools working with their students. Activities include: mock elections, drafting a classroom Constitution, drafting a bill and voting it into classroom law, checks and balances activities, and Constitution Jeopardy.

“To at least a small extent, I’d like to think that the program inspired a classroom of students who will enter the community soon as more thoughtful, objective, and considerate adults.” 

CLEP also organizes an annual Constitution day program in which law students lead local 8th graders through Constitution-based activities.

Students involved in this year’s spring program were: Claire Allen, Logen Bartz, Madi Barbee, Amanda Berman, Carey Collingham, Katie Curtiss, Julia Dohan, Jim Glover, David Gottschalk, Stewart Guderian, Dee Hobbs, Dana Jurgensmeier, Bobby Larsen, Aaron Macchietto, Aja Martin, Mauricio Murga Rios, Shannon Seim, Matt Soltys, Josh Waltjer, and Jared West

Professor Brian Lepard

Lepard Publishes Article on Customary Law and Human Rights on International Law Blog

05 Mar 2019    

Professor Brian Lepard has published an article entitled “Why Customary International Law Matters in Protecting Human Rights” on the international law blog, Volkerrechtsblog. The article serves as the introduction to a symposium on customary international law and human rights appearing on the blog in the next week. Other contributors are Alan Franklin, Managing Director of Global Business Risk Management and Faculty, Athabasca University and Diplo Foundation; Dr. Dana Schmalz, Visiting Scholar at the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at The New School; and Mark Janis, William F. Starr Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut.

Topics covered in Professor Lepard’s article, and the symposium in general, include the impact of customary human rights law on businesses; whether new standards regarding the sharing of responsibility among nations for receiving refugees and asylum-seekers are now part of customary human rights law; and the role of customary international law in protecting religious freedom, particularly the religious liberty of members of minority religions.

The symposium was inspired by a panel at International Law Weekend in New York on October 20, 2018. International Law Weekend is an annual conference organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association. The panel was sponsored by the American Branch’s Committee on the Formation of Customary International Law, of which Professor Lepard serves as chair.

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 and human rights. 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.


College of Law to Host Agricultural and Water Law Seminar

28 Feb 2019    

The University of Nebraska College of Law will host the 2019 Agricultural and Water Law Seminar on March 21.

The day-long seminar will cover current topics in agricultural law and water law. The morning sessions will be devoted to water law, and the afternoon sessions to agricultural law. Registration options are available for full-day or half-day sessions.

Presenters include Dave Bargen, ’04, Don Blankenau, ’87, Christin Lovegrove, ’09, Kennon Meyer, ’17, Adam Pavelka, ’05, Jessica Piskorski, ’09, Jesse Richardson, Vanessa Silke, ’12, Garret Graff, and Professor Anthony Schutz, ’03

The program is approved for 9 CLE credits, including one hour of ethics. See for additional information, and to register.  Admission is free for University faculty, staff, and students.

Nebraska College of Law

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.

Professor Ryan Sullivan

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.

Professor Sullivan with Special Guests

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.


Professor Kevin Ruser

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

Ella Newell and Andrew Wurdeman

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.

Professor Brian Lepard

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.

Professor Lepard in Brazil
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 Lepard in Brazil

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.

Jeffrey Blumel

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.

Jason Bring

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.

David Pederson

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."

Dvorak Law Group

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.

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.

Learn more about the play.

Andy Wilson

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.

Professor Brian Lepard

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.

Scott Crabtree

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. 

Jenn Christensen

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.

Elsbeth Magilton

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.”

Tyler White“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 More information about Nebraska’s Intelligence Community Scholars program is available at


Lincoln Paint-A-Thon 2017

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

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.

Story from University Communication.