Strategic Plan Progress Report - February 2023

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The College of Law published a Strategic Plan in September 2019, after ten months of work by over fifty law school stakeholders, including faculty, administrators, staff, students, and alumni. The Plan included a new mission statement, a set of nine core values, and three commitments with identified goals and outcomes. The plan is both authentic (i.e., describing who we really are as a community) and aspirational (i.e., describing who we want to be on our best days).

In April of 2021, we reported our progress, noting several significant achievements helping us live our mission and fulfill our commitments. We also recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic altered our priorities and forced us to adjust some timelines. We identified the next phase of goals and work to be completed in the subsequent 18 months.

Now, in February 2023, we are publishing this Second Progress Report. As noted when we first published our Plan in 2019, the Plan was always meant to be our guiding star, a reminder of our collective best attempt to set goals, metrics, and direction. It was never intended to be a rigid pact resistant to change. Our work has been directionally consistent since 2019, but we have adjusted along the way, whether to manage the uncertainties of a global pandemic or to pursue new opportunities that we had not imagined when this project first began. Measuring our progress has been more difficult than we initially imagined, so we are continuing to evaluate how to best demonstrate our success and identify where we need to improve.

Our dedication to realizing our mission, living our values, and fulfilling our commitments has never been stronger. Although our mission and commitments seem to have gained broad support, we continue to have robust discussions about what it means to “develop inclusive leaders” and how, exactly, we should prepare students for their professional careers. Those debates have in many ways reinforced and strengthened our collective desire to impact the lives of our students and our communities through the work of teaching students, developing professionals, and solving societal problems.

This Second Progress Report will update our community on our accomplishments from the last 18 months, identify areas where our ambitions fell short, and look forward to what we hope to achieve in the next two years.

Commitment One: Building an inclusive and connected community

Over the last 18 months, we have worked to build an inclusive and connected community, providing high quality programming related to inclusive leadership and wellness and enhancing each individual's understanding of their own strengths.

What's Happened: April 2021 - October 2022

icon of open bookHiring

Developed hiring practices to obtain a diverse applicant pool at Nebraska Law and evaluate candidates based on talents and Nebraska Law’s values.

icon of people with dotted circleRecruitment

Increased efforts in diversity recruitment, resulting in an increase from 8% entering students of color in 2020 to 20% entering students of color in 2022.

clipart of a ribbonMilestones

Celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Nebraska Law Review and the 50th anniversary of the Multicultural Legal Society.

Nebraska Legal Diversity Council logoDiversity

The Nebraska Legal Diversity Council hired its first executive director, who is actively engaged with Nebraska Law and our students of color.

clipart open bookLibrary

Opened the renovated Schmid Law Library, a $6 million project that includes two technology-enabled classrooms and gathering spaces for our community.

clipart succulentWellness

A new wellness council supported programming including yoga, guided meditation, religious observations, and in-person office hours with the Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program.

icon of map with pinCommunity

First-year students had the opportunity to participate in a summer book club with the Dean and had one-on-one meetings with the Assistant Dean for Student Development.

icon of people with dotted circleConnection

Partnered with the College of Business for the third Women Lead conference with over 300 leaders from across Nebraska.

What's Coming: November 2022 - November 2024

word bubble inside a circleDiscourse

Emphasize the important role of lawyers in maintaining our democracy through the engaged, gracious, and thoughtful exchange of ideas by creating a two-year Law and Democracy speaker series that will run from September 2022 through May 2024.

icon of open bookPublic Interest

Develop a Public Interest Scholarship Program to identify high-quality prospective students interested in public interest careers and give them financial and other incentives to attend Nebraska Law.

icon of open bookHiring 

Hire an Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion who will lead the development of an explicit DE&I strategic plan.

talking bubble on a projection screenPipeline

Develop summer programming aimed at building a pipeline for students of color to law school.

icon of map with pinRecruitment

Continue to emphasize recruitment of diverse and talented faculty, staff, and students through expanded and individualized outreach to candidates for open positions and to qualified prospective students of color.

Lecture hall full of women
More than 300 Nebraska leaders attended the Women Lead conference held in March 2022.

Schmid Law Library ribbon cutting
The grand re-opening of the Marvin and Virginia Schmid Law Library was held on September 16, 2022.

Commitment Two: Preparing our students for a lifetime of learning, service, and ethical leadership

Since April 2021, we have continued to examine our program to ensure that we deliver a comprehensive legal education that provides a strong foundation in critical thinking and legal analysis, as well as a skills-based focus on practice-orientated learning through clinics, externships, and other experiential learning opportunities.

What's Happened: April 2021 - October 2022

icon of people with dotted circleCurriculum

Reduced the number of first-year credit hours from 33 to 30 to allow for deep thinking and focused study.

icon of open bookPractical Skills

Added a sixth legal clinic - the Housing Justice Clinic, an expansion of the Tenant Assistance Project.

icon of open bookLeadership

Created the Duane W. Acklie Honor Scholarship program to recruit ten students who have demonstrated leadership potential.

icon of people with dotted circle

Advancing Justice

Approved courses in Race and the Law; the Role of the State Attorney General; Agriculture, Race and Connections to Place; and Prisoner's Rights. 

icon of people with dotted circleExperience

Created opportunities for hands-on learning through community clinics and the Debtors' Defense Project.

icon of open bookExternships

Hired a Director of Externships to coordinate and supervise all student externships, to teach a seminar that coincides with every externship, and to manage a new, semester-long joint program in Washington, D.C. with the University of Iowa College of Law.

icon of open bookHiring

Hired four full-time professors, three visiting professors and two fellows to teach core, fundamental courses.

icon of people with dotted circleService

Began a Board Service Leadership Externship Program in which students serve on local non-profit boards as ex officio members.

What's Coming: November 2022 - November 2024

icon of people with dotted circleFaculty

Hire new faculty to teach core courses: civil procedure, torts, contracts, criminal law, and administrative law.

icon of map with pinLearning Outcomes

Review our Learning Outcomes and develop specific measures that can be tracked to ensure students are satisfying outcomes prior to graduation.

icon of people with dotted circleEthics

Expand the ways in which ethics and integrity are infused into courses beyond Professional Responsibility.

MegaphoneExperiential Learning

Begin operating a First Amendment Clinic; funded through a grant from the Stanton Foundation.

piece of paper iconPrograms

Establish initiatives related to (1) Advancing Justice and (2) Developing Inclusive Leaders that include curricular offerings, extracurricular opportunities, externships, and scholarly inquiries.

icon of people with dotted circleLeadership

Begin offering a course on Law and Leadership, a program of concentrated study in leadership, and partner with the department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication to provide a certificate in leadership.

icon of open bookHonor Code

Complete our two-year study of the Honor Code and determine necessary revisions.

Professor Genesis Agosto talking to a student
The College of Law hired four full-time professors, including Professor of Law Library Genesis Agosto.

Professor Ryan Sullivan talking to a student in the lobby of the courthouse
Housing Justice Clinic students focus their work on eviction defense, tenants' rights, and improving housing conditions in Nebraska.

Commitment Three: Solving vital societal problems

The College has made great strides in its fulfillment of Commitment Three goals. Our collaboration with the College of Business has grown as we partnered on an undergraduate Business and Law Major, in addition to the existing minor. Two faculty-led initiatives - the Rural Reconciliation Project and the Nebraska Governance and Technology Center - continue to thrive and grow.

What's Happened: April 2021 - October 2022

globe with a dollar sign


Hired Professor Matt Schaefer as the Yeutter Chair in Law. He will be an integral part of the Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade

icon of a sheet of paper


Added a Sponsoring Partner (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska) to the Law+Business program.

icon of three people in front of a screen


Held regular faculty workshops on a variety of scholarly topics presented by Nebraska Law and visiting professors.

icon of a female child


Began the Children's Justice Attorney Education program to train rural attorneys on best practices as guardians ad litem.

globe icon with dotted line around itSpace

Professor Beard and the editorial board presented the Woomera Manual on the International Law of Military Space Activities and Operations to 24 countries.

icon of a video


Continued to release marketing campaigns that highlight the research and scholarship of our faculty. Videos available at

icon of a house


Received grant funding to begin a Housing Justice Clinic, including two fellows and a resource coordinator.

Icon of three peopleProfessorships

Professors Blankley, Shoemaker, and Thimmesch earned professorships in recognition of their accomplishments.

icon of a 1st place ribbon


Faculty and students have received numerous recognitions and awards for their work in the community.

icon of Nebraska


The Nebraska Governance and Technology Center continued its robust programming and work in Nebraska and across the U.S.

What's Coming: November 2022 - November 2024

Location marker with globe insideNational Security

Change the name and emphasis of our Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law Program to Space, Cyber, and National Security Law Program to capitalize on our growing expertise in national security and increasing interest in the program from the U.S. military.

icon of a female childChildren's Justice

Make the Children's Justice Clinic a permanent offering at the College of Law, including obtaining permanent funding for the Clinic.

Icon of person showing an outline of their brainPsychology

Hire new faculty to continue the College of Law's long-standing collaboration with the UNL Psychology Department in the nationally recognized Law and Psychology Program.

Fulfilling Our Committments

We have made great strides in the last 18 months, making the College of Law operate more efficiently and effectively. We have: 

  • Invested $500,000 in upgrades to our classroom technology, most of which had not been updated in over 15 years. 
  • Planned the purchase and implementation of a client management system for our clinics, so that all in-house clinics will operate with the same technology. This will create significant efficiencies in clinic operations and also introduce students to how such systems impact the practice of law. 
  • Created a College-wide communication and calendaring system through Microsoft SharePoint, which provides cloud-based document storage for administrative offices and student organizations as well as individually-tailored communications so that each student, faculty, and staff member receive information specifically targeting their interests and needs. 
  • Created administrative efficiencies within the College and through work with University partners, including streamlining our interactions with the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships by having Law students work with a financial aid specialist housed at the law school, and fully utilizing the University’s IT and Registration infrastructure to relieve burdensome procedures at the College level. 
  • Hired administrative professionals to assist faculty so that they can focus on teaching and scholarship, including two legal assistants, a student advisor, a communications coordinator, and a director of externships.
  • Convened a Communications Council of representatives from all departments to coordinate and disseminate information about events and College activities. 
  • Implemented a shared communication tool among all student advisors to centralize recordkeeping and notes on student counseling. 
  • Coordinated efforts among Student Services, the Associate Dean for Faculty, and the 1L professors to revamp our academic success program and academic support efforts.

Reporting on Key Indicators of Success


Diversity of College of Law employees: resident and adjunct faculty and staff 5.2%
Diversity of entering class of 1Ls 8.0%

Entering Credentials

Qualifications of entering class of 1Ls: media LSAT 157
Qualifications of entering class of 1Ls: median GPA 3.73


Students in simulation (skills) courses 391
Students participating in externships 35
Student pro bono hours reported 1,137


Bar passage rate of graduating class: first-time Nebraska test takers 87.3%
Employment rate of graduating class: 10 months after graduation 87.0%