About Professor Matthew Schaefer

Professor Matthew Schaefer has nearly two decades of law teaching experience and has taught courses in international law, international trade law, international business transactions, foreign relations law and policy, space law, and cyber law. In 2012, he led efforts to have the Law College adopt a required first-year course in international law, and currently co-teaches the course with Professors Lepard and Beard. With his required upper-level course in international law for LL.M. students, virtually no University of Nebraska student obtains a J.D. or LL.M. degree without being taught the basics of international law, and the intersection of international law with the US legal system, by Professor Schaefer.

During the 1999 calendar year, Professor Schaefer served as a director in the International Economic Affairs Office of the National Security Council (NSC) at the White House. He was the principal staff member responsible for the formulation, coordination and implementation of U.S. foreign policy as it relates to international economic issues. In his role as a director, he prepared senior NSC officials for meetings with the President and foreign dignitaries, briefed the President in advance of EU-US Summits, and assisted in the development of international trade policy recommendations.

In February 2006, Professor Schaefer was named inaugural Director of the USA’s first degree-bearing Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law Program, and has continued as director of the program ever since. He was integrally involved in gaining University and external approval for the LLM degree (in 2006-07), developing the curriculum, hiring permanent faculty and adjunct faculty for the program, creating the Advisory Board and Alumni Council for the program, and gaining University and external approval for the online version of the LLM degree (in 2011).  He is the principal organizer of the program’s annual conferences in Washington, D.C (6 thus far) and Lincoln, NE (7 thus far).  He has also organized regional conferences on space and cyber law in Omaha (in conjunction with US Strategic Command’s Space and Cyber Symposium), San Diego, CA and Ann Arbor, MI. He was the principle investigator (PI) responsible for administering a $1.71 million NASA grant from 2008-2011 that helped launch the program.

Professor Schaefer is a frequent speaker on current topics in space law across the country, including at the University of Michigan Law School, Fordham Law School, Columbia Law School, New York University Law School, University of California-Irvine, University of Southern California. He taught what is believe to be the first combined course in space and cyber law at a US law school during the Summer of 2012 at the University of San Diego law school. He has presented on space law topics internationally, including at the European Center for Space Law in Paris, the International Institute of Space Law (in Glasgow, Scotland and Naples, Italy). Space law is one major thread of Professor Schaefer’s scholarship. He is the author a 40-page white paper on commercial space liability issues that is being circulated among Congress, the White House, NASA, as well as industry, and that was the focus of the program’s 6th Annual Washington, DC conference in November 2013. The article is forthcoming in the Berkeley Journal of International Law.  His article on space debris presented to the IISL in Naples in 2012 drew interest from the Japanese Space Agency and NASA. Professor Schaefer has appeared on FOX News (national) TV and been quoted in Space.com and the New Scientist on commercial space law topics.

Professor Schaefer is a graduate of the University of Chicago (B.A.) and the University of Michigan Law School (J.D. magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, L.L.M. in international law, S.J.D.). During his law studies, he received the William W. Bishop, Jr. Award for performance with distinction in the field of international law and also served an externship at the U.S. State Department-Office of the Legal Advisor. He studied at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia under a Ford Foundation Fellowship.

Professor Schaefer is a former term-member of the Council on Foreign Relations and also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Academic Outreach Advisory Board. He serves on the board of editors of the Journal of International Economic Law, and also serves on the advisory board of the Canada-U.S. Law Institute. In his role as co-chair of the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) Space Law Committee, he organized, moderated and presented on a panel on “Regulating and Incentivizing New Commercial Space Markets” at the International Law Weekend – Midwest (at Washington Univ. in St. Louis Law School) and organized, moderated and presented on a panel on “Complexities of Regulating the Space Domain by Analogy to Other Domains’ Legal Regimes” at the International Law Weekend (at Fordham University Law School) during the Fall 2013 semester. Professor Schaefer is also member of space law committee of International Law Association as well as a member of the International Institute of Space Law.

Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Schaefer served as an international trade consultant to the National Governors’ Association and Western Governors’ Association in Washington, D.C. during the legislative implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and GATT Uruguay Round multilateral trade agreement. He has also served as a consultant to two members of the European parliament in Brussels, Belgium and the states of Hawaii, Texas, and Utah. The other major  thread of Professor Schaefer’s scholarship focuses on the inter-relationship between federalism and international and foreign relations law as well as international trade agreements.  His most recent article in this arena is “Constraints on State-Level Foreign Policy: (Re)Justifying, Refining, and Distinguishing the Dormant Foreign Affairs Doctrine,” 41 Seton Hall L. Rev. 201-318 (2011), the longest published law review article of the year.

Professor Schaefer also was the lead person at the Law College in administering an international trade policy, economics and law-related program in during 2012 and 2013 under a Clayton Yeutter International Trade grant through the US Department of Commerce. The programming included several distinguished international trade law lectures and seminars by visiting distinguished lecturers, including former director of the WTO legal division William Davey, Chair of Sidley and Austin’s DC international trade practice group Andy Shoyer, and Vice-President of Rock Creek Global Advisors Michael Smart.


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