Prof. Edward J. Birmingham at Creighton University School of Law has received Nebraska State Bar Foundation’s Outstanding Legal Educator Award. Professor Birmingham was honored March 13 at the Foundation’s 32nd Annual Fellows Dinner at the Holland Center in Omaha.
In presenting the award, his colleague Steven Scholer said, “Professor Birmingham is an outstanding and caring teacher who unquestionably represents and has helped fulfill Creighton Law School’s stated mission. . . to educate our students, teach them how to serve others, and how to pursue justice.” Scholer is senior philanthropic advisor at Creighton.
Professor Birmingham said, “I can’t express how grateful I am for this award, particularly from this Foundation, which is renown certainly among the lawyers I know for all the work you do in educating students, particularly students in elementary and high school as well as law school. There couldn’t be any greater honor for me than getting this award from this particular group.
“I have been so fortunate to have this privilege of teaching law students, I learn more from the students than the students learn from me,” Birmingham said.
“Professor Birmingham has distinguished himself both in the classroom and as a legal scholar and has made significant contributions to legal education over the course of five decades,” Scholer said, noting that he was once one of Birmingham’s students. Now a dear colleague, Prof. Birmingham is a most worthy recipient of the Bar Foundation award,” he said.
At Creighton, Professor Birmingham has taught more than 20 different course offerings ranging from Corporate Federal Taxation to Estate Planning to Health Law. As associate dean, he conceptualized and promoted a master’s degree program for students seeking careers in government law. He also was instrumental in initiating a program that condensed three years of law school into an intensive two-year program and another that extended a combined business school and law school program to include students in the College of Arts and Sciences. Currently, he is working on a program to provide support and opportunities to at-risk law students.
As Associate Dean, Birmingham also oversaw the development and implementation of action plans to maintain and improve Creighton’s accreditation with the American Bar Association. As part of this endeavor, he tutored students in the evenings and weekends as they prepared to take the bar admission exams, Scholer said.
Along with Prof. Dick Shugrue, Birmingham coached 24 student Moot Court teams and took pleasure in coaching student Negotiation Teams and Client Counseling Teams. He has coached more than 100 student teams in ABA-sponsored competitions, and his teams have accumulated a strong record of achievement, Scholer said. Among his greatest joys as a teacher were road trips with colleagues at Creighton and the University of Nebraska College of Law to Nebraska cities to present seminars on tax law to practicing attorneys.
Scholer said Birmingham also is a productive writer who has published handbooks and law review articles and has written and updated book chapters on personal injury law.
Birmingham was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and completed his undergraduate degree and one year of law school at Creighton before moving to Washington, D.C. There he worked in the Senate Office Building while attending law school, receiving his J.D. from Catholic University and an LLM in taxation from Georgetown University. He graduated from Bishop Heelan Catholic High School in Sioux City.
The Nebraska State Bar Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to serving the citizens of Nebraska and the legal profession through the administration and funding of innovative and creative programs directed toward the improvement of the administration of justice and the fulfillment of the American vision of equal justice for all.
The theme of the Foundation’s 2020 Civics Education programs is “Educate to Engage: Citizenship through Civics.” Thirty distinguished Nebraska lawyers were honored as 2019 Foundation Fellows at the Fellows Dinner.