In 1892, the regents of the University of Nebraska incorporated the private, two-year Central Law College into the university and the result was the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law (Nebraska Law). Since 1982, Nebraska Law’s mission has been to provide the citizens of Nebraska with an affordable but still excellent legal education. Nebraska Law is consistently ranked as one of the best values of all law schools in the country. Its students graduate–on average–with the lowest debt rate of any students in the country. In more recent history, Nebraska Law completed a $10 million renovation of its facility, added additional perspective courses to its first-year curriculum, and founded its legal clinics in 2010. Nebraska Law has graduated four governors of the state and seven Nebraska Supreme Court justices.
The first-year curriculum at Nebraska Law provides students a foundation in five of the six traditional first-year courses. Three are taught in two semesters: civil procedure, contracts, and property. Criminal law and torts are one semester, four-hour courses. Students also take a two-semester introduction to the principles of legal writing, research, and analysis. Finally, since 2010, students have taken a unique course introducing them to various international perspectives on the law.
The final core course of the traditional education is taught in fall semester of the second year. Upper-class students must also take a course in professional responsibility prior to graduation as well as complete a seminar format course from selected courses. All Nebraska Law students must also complete six hours of professional skills courses prior to graduation. These skill-based courses are often paired with experiential learning opportunities.
Nebraska Law recommends that students spend their second year of law school covering the prerequisite courses that they need to pass the bar exam as well as prepare for more advanced coursework in their third year. All students have the option of pursuing one of Nebraska Law’s four concentrations: business law, intellectual property, litigation, or solo practitioner law. Students may also craft their own academic program from the school’s extensive course catalog.
Alongside its Juris Doctor program, Nebraska Law offers several additional degree programs in connection with its unique space, cyber, and telecommunications law program. The law school offers a Master of Laws (LL.M) program. The LL.M program requires a year of residential coursework focused on this narrow but growing field of law. Enrollment is open to any students who have previously earned a Juris Doctorate.
For students who have completed their LL.M and wish to pursue additional academic studies in the field of space law, Nebraska Law offers the only Doctor of Juridical Science (J.S.D.) in space law in the country. Students pursue their area of interest through extensive research and writing with the end goal being a publishable work on the subject.
Practicing attorneys may also enroll in the law school’s certification program for space, cyber, and telecommunications law. The certification is designed to indicate a mastery of the fundamentals of the subject area.
Nebraska Law also offers a Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) program for non-attorneys who wish to understand the intersection of the law with their chosen profession. While the M.L.S. does not allow students to sit for a bar exam, it does provide a foundation to understand the role the law plays in society and a variety of industries.
Juris Doctor candidates can also explore the interdisciplinary nature of law through a joint degree program with one of nine other professional schools. Students must apply to both programs separately but then complete their coursework concurrently, sharing some credits between both programs. This method allows students to complete both degrees in less time than pursuing them separately. Joint degrees range from an M.B.A. or Masters in Political Science to degrees in journalism or history.
Career and Career Placement
Over 87% of all Nebraska Law graduates are employed in careers that either require a law license or prefer a law school graduate within 10 months of graduation. Owing in part to the lower debt rate incurred by Nebraska Law graduates, students gravitated towards unique professional paths. Small law firms and solo practices were the most popular choice (26%). Students also frequently opted for careers in the business sector (16%) or in government offices and public interest positions (19%). Over 75% of all graduates remained in Nebraska to begin their careers while nearby Iowa and Kansas were also common choices.
The Nebraska Law Career Development Office (CDO) provides all students with a range of resources and programming intended to prepare them to manage their careers from their first summer legal jobs through their first careers and their future career changes. Students learn the skill of interviewing and networking. The CDO also maintains a robust set of online and paper resources as well as a database of job postings.
Students at Nebraska Law learn to practice law through skill-based courses, participation in one of the schools faculty led legal clinics, or through a field placement. Each year, the law school offers students a wide range of skill based courses that allow student to tackle practical problems in the classroom under the supervision of faculty experts. Skill based courses instruct students on the fundamentals of lawyering, from drafting a will to cross-examining witnesses.
Students have the opportunity to carry their skills into one of the schools four legal clinics where students use their skills working with real clients on a variety of legal problems. Clinical experience introduces students to a host of client related skills (such as intake interviews and professional responsibility).
Externships offer a similar experience as the law clinics through a field placement in the local legal community. By spending a semester (or more) working in a legal clinic, students are exposed to the daily process of practicing law and are able to better shape their own career paths.
Nebraska Law stresses the need for students to be well rounded outside of the classroom. The school of law offers students a range of services including a mentor program that provides students with a advisor throughout their academic careers who can offer suggestion on a range of issues. Nebraska Law provides counseling for students on mental and financial health issues as well as a host of wellness resources on campus. First-year students may also take part in the academic success program that helps students succeed throughout their law school careers.
Lincoln, Nebraska offers students life in a big city without the cost or inconvenience. The metropolitan area is home to over 300,000 residents. Lincoln is also the capital of the state, allowing students the opportunity to participate in the legislative and judicial process on a state level. The downtown community–a short drive from the law school–is full of restaurants, breweries, and entertainment options. The surrounding community offers affordable, abundant housing options. The law school is also less than 8 hours from Chicago, Minneapolis, and the ski resorts of Colorado.