EVOLVES Program Attorney and Clinic Facilitator, Volunteer Lawyers Project
Nebraska State Bar Association
Shannon is passionate about bridging the civil legal justice gap, particularly where it precludes health equity such as in landlord-tenant, domestic violence, and mental health law.
Individuals are not constitutionally guaranteed right to counsel for civil legal matters—even when they are life or death. For example, thousands of deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic can be traced back to evictions where the evicted party may have had a defense but was unable to assert it due to lack of counsel. Another example would be that people with cyclical mental illnesses featuring psychosis are often not able to receive treatment during their time of crisis unless they have already hurt themselves severely, but with proper civil legal interventions, such as mental health advance directives, these individuals could control their own health while they are competent before they have another episode.
Shannon works with the Nebraska State Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project. All Nebraska attorneys are asked to do 50 hours of pro bono work each year and the Volunteer Lawyers Project seeks to ensure that work is as meaningful as possible. Shannon would like to harness the wonderful pro bono enthusiasm in Nebraska and tie it more directly to health equity.
Because Nebraska has more counties without an attorney than any other state, Shannon is particularly focused on understanding and explaining the rural justice gap as a health disparity.
Bridging the civil justice gap, and particularly the rural justice gap, will require extensive interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation, which Shannon hopes to learn more about through the Culture of Health Program.
MORE ABOUT SHANNON
Shannon grew up in Omaha, spending summers with her grandma in Crab Orchard, Nebraska—a small village in Johnson County, one of the poorest counties in the state.
Shannon’s family moved to Virginia when she was in middle school, but Shannon always knew Nebraska was home and returned promptly after graduating from the College of William & Mary. After college, she worked at Girls Inc. of Omaha, served as an AmeriCorps member working as a community organizer, and then as a school readiness coordinator for refugee families before attending law school.
In law school, Shannon helped advocate for Nebraska’s Mental Health Advance Directive statute and researched landlord-tenant issues. After law school, Shannon began working at the Nebraska State Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project where she connects attorneys to meaningful pro bono work. Fifty percent of Shannon’s work with VLP focuses on advocating for survivors of domestic violence.