“Our primary motivations are helping people and teaching students. It’s that simple,” says Laura Thomas, associate professor and primary supervising attorney of the Family Law Clinic, which is expanding its reach from Hennepin, Ramsey and Anoka Counties into Dakota County. Thomas, a family law expert with extensive experience as a practitioner of family law and general civil litigation, is increasing the pipeline of cases to ensure students have rewarding, career-enhancing experiences—and to address the pressing needs of underserved communities. In July 2015, Thomas also became director of clinical education at the Law School, overseeing one of the largest clinical education programs in the country.
“Collectively, the clinics at the University of Minnesota Law School provide a range of legal representation to Minnesota’s indigent and working poor. By March in any given year we have more than 400 open files. We are essentially a full-service law firm, representing our clients in asylum, bankruptcy, tax, family, criminal, juvenile justice, detention hearings and more. This breadth in practice areas echoes the business model in law firms, and it instills in our students an understanding of client service.”
Director, Clinical Education Program
Co-Director, Law in Practice
Primary Supervising Attorney, Family Law Clinic
B.A., Political Science, University of St. Thomas magna cum laude
J.D., Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Everything the law cares about involves the brain, according to associate professor Francis Shen, who joined the faculty because of the robust resources and opportunities for cutting-edge neurolaw work across the University. Here, he has found a faculty that is willing to take risks and an interdisciplinary culture that promotes a special brand of collegiality.
“There isn’t any better place to study science and the law than the University of Minnesota. Increasingly, it’s becoming important for students to have knowledge of multiple fields. Neuroscience advances offer stunning possibilities, but this promise depends on the path that is forged from lab to law. From patents to genetics to medical devices to treatment of criminals, our students can study the myriad intersections of law and science.”
McKnight Land-Grant Professor and Associate Professor of Law
Executive Director of Education and Outreach for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience
B.A., University of Chicago
J.D., Harvard Law School
Ph.D., Harvard University
Sukanya Momsen (’16) found her calling after graduating from the University of Minnesota summa cum laude and diving into the study of employment and corporate law with two of the country’s leading experts in their fields: Stephen Befort (’74) and John Matheson. In the first two years in law school, Momsen honed her knowledge and skills through externships with a U.S. District Court judge and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and clerkships with two major law firms. After graduation, she heads to the Minnesota Court of Appeals for a one-year clerkship before joining the law firm of Nilan Johnson Lewis.
“While Minnesota is one of the top law schools in the country, it’s also the supportive vibe here that’s important. Students keep things in perspective. Plus, there are so many employment and judicial externship opportunities that are completely eye-opening.”
Sukanya Momsen (’16)
2015 Law Student Award for Excellence in Employment Law, Minnesota State Bar Association
South Asian Law Student Association, president Minnesota Journal of International Law, managing editor
Minnesota Women Lawyers, Women’s Law Student Association liaison
American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice law student writing competition, second prize
Structured Study Group, instructor
Desmond Ready (’14) got his first taste of being a litigator as a student in the Civil Practice Clinic, where he gained substantive courtroom experience. That training, combined with supportive Law School connections, helped him secure his dream job with the U.S. Department of Justice, defending national treasures against environmental threats.
“The clinic made law school far more than an academic experience for me; it was truly a life-changing experience and an affirmation of my decision to attend law school, specifically the U of M.”
Desmond T. Ready (’14)
Kent Wennerstrom Award for Outstanding Clinic Student Director
Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Environment & Natural Resources Division
Working as a community organizer, JOEY DOBSON (’16) learned firsthand about issues faced by people in poverty. She also recognized that a legal degree was the way to boost her ability to make change. With her scholarship from the Robina Foundation, she volunteered with a free tax clinic for low-income taxpayers and worked with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services. She also distinguished herself handling cases in the Child Advocacy and Juvenile Justice Clinic, taking testimony, cross-examining witnesses, and representing a guardian ad litem in a child protection case.
“The Law School does a particularly great job combining theoretical study with a wealth of opportunities to put the skills we learn in the classroom into practice. My professors have been true mentors, validating and supporting what I want to do with my career: serving low-income individuals. Plus, the location has so much to offer, with beautiful places to explore and an amazing diversity of people.”
Joanna Dobson (’16)
2015-16 Minnesota Law Review, managing editor
2015-16 Child Advocacy and Juvenile Justice Clinic Student Director
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid Cooper Fellow
Minnesota Women Lawyers Student Scholarship winner
With a deep professional interest in crime—cyber, organized, and white collar—Takamasa Nakahara (LL.M. ’15), from Fukuoka, Japan, chose the University of Minnesota Law School’s LL.M. program to further his career. Here he has found substantive benefits for his legal practice at home as a prosecutor. In particular, he cites the knowledge he has gained in the areas of legal research and writing, oral arguments, and courtroom proceedings. He also has found a vibrant city that is safe, progressive, and full of opportunities for an active lifestyle.
“I took the White Collar Crime course and came to know that the U.S. has countermeasures against such crimes that Japan doesn’t have. Those kinds of crimes are hot topics in Japan now. The knowledge I’ve obtained here will be helpful in dealing with those matters when I return to Japan.”
Takamasa Nakahara (LL.M. ’15)
J.D., Keio University Law School, Tokyo, Japan
Prosecutor, Legal Training and Research Institute of the Supreme Court of Japan
Prosecutor, Fukuoka District Public Prosecutors Office
Experiential learning is a top priority at the University of Minnesota Law School. We offer one of the nation’s largest and most distinguished clinical education programs, a unique first-year Law in Practice course, abundant corporate externships, capstone courses focused on solving real-world problems, extensive legal practice skills courses, and your choice of nine concentrations.
The Twin Cities is one of the most energetic, livable and literate communities in the country, distinguished by a nationally renowned park system with hundreds of miles of trails and an amazing chain of lakes, the largest theater community outside New York, and an internationally renowned music scene. Add to that distinctive neighborhoods, numerous professional sports teams, a new light rail system just steps from the Law School’s front door, and ready access to federal, state and local courts and the state capitol. More
Civility, cooperation and support define the University of Minnesota Law School. While our faculty are some of the most accomplished scholars in the world, they also are eager to mentor and readily available to help you succeed. Our collegial culture emphasizes teamwork, problem solving, leadership and persuasion, skills that are essential beyond law school for all fields of employment. More
The exceptional faculty at the University of Minnesota Law School bring real-world experience, practice, and leading research into the classroom. Passionate about their vocation and committed to integrating theory and practice in their teaching, they are demanding but eager to mentor and readily available to help students succeed along their chosen paths.