Minnesota Law

Fall 2023
Faculty Focus

Five Full-time Faculty Join Minnesota Law

Meet our newest faculty experts in federal immigration law, administrative law, aging and elder law, intellectual property, and environmental law

This fall, Minnesota Law welcomed five new full-time faculty members with an impressive range of legal expertise among them, including immigration, administrative law, aging and elder law, intellectual property, and environmental law: Nadia Anguiano ’17, associate clinical professor of law and director of the Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic; Nicholas Bednar ’16, associate professor of law; Alexander Boni-Saenz, professor of law; Sapna Kumar, Henry J. Fletcher Professor of Law; and Jack Whiteley, associate professor of law.

Nadia Anguiano ’17

Nadia Anguiano ’17 

Earlier this year, Nadia Anguiano ’17 moved from her role as a visiting assistant clinical professor and interim director of the Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic to a permanent faculty position as an associate clinical professor of law. Anguiano continues to direct and teach at the clinic, which is part of the James H. Binger Center for New Americans, as she guides students through complex litigation to defend the rights of non-citizens. 

A Mexican-born immigrant, Anguiano said her background inspired her law career. She earned an engineering degree, and while working in the field, she also became deeply involved in the immigrant rights movement. Eventually, she decided to follow her passion and to pursue a second career in law. 

“I was working in Rochester, Minnesota, in my engineering career, and during that time I was also really invested in the local community pursuing immigrant rights,” Anguiano says. “I had established a home and a sense of community that I didn’t want to lose. After applying very broadly to law schools, I ultimately decided to stay home and pursue my J.D. at Minnesota Law. I was a student in the clinic that I now run when it was at the pilot stage.” 

As a Minnesota Law student, Anguiano was admitted to the Order of the Coif and was an editor of the Minnesota Journal of International Law. After graduating, she served as a law clerk for Judge Jane Kelly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and Judge Susan Richard Nelson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. She was recognized for her work on the national Amicus Committee of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. 

Along with directing the Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic — where she and her students represent non-citizens in complex immigration cases before the U.S. District Courts, U.S. Courts of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court — Anguiano teaches a seminar in post-conviction relief. 

“I’m here not just because I’m passionate about immigrant rights, but because I’m also passionate about clinical education,” she says. “My vision for the clinic is that it be a prominent federal litigation program with the dual goals of providing a transformative clinical education for our students while also impacting the law in favorable ways and protecting and advancing the rights of non-citizens.”

Nicholas Bednar ’16

Nicholas Bednar ’16 

A graduate of Minnesota Law, Associate Professor of Law Nicholas Bednar ’16 received his Ph.D. in political science from Vanderbilt University, where he was an affiliate of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. He specializes in administrative law, executive-branch politics, immigration, and quantitative methods. 

Joining the Law School faculty is his “dream job” and a privilege, he said. 

“I took a constitutional law class in undergrad and I really liked it,” Bednar says. “I always thought I wanted to be a college professor and wanted to do more of a research and academic-oriented path. That is a really hard path to get into. I had many mentors at the University of Minnesota who were willing to help me along the way and push me up the ladder.” 

As a student at Minnesota Law, Bednar earned Order of the Coif honors, served as an editor on the Minnesota Law Review, and received the William B. Lockhart Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Leadership, and Service. He clerked for Chief Judge John Tunheim ’80 on the United States District Court for the District Court of Minnesota and for Judge Tracy Smith ’88 on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Bednar’s research has appeared in the American Political Science Review, the Cardozo Law Review, the George Washington Law Review, and Political Science Research and Methods. He is teaching Torts and Legislation and Regulation in his first year at Minnesota Law. 

“I want to provide the type of mentorship that I received here,” he says. “And I want to be here for students, and really push them along the path. Whether that’s private practice, or public service, or wherever their chosen field is, I want to help get them there.” 

Alexander Boni-Saenz

Alexander Boni-Saenz 

Alexander Boni-Saenz joins Minnesota Law from the Chicago- Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology, where he served as a professor of law, associate dean for scholarship and faculty development, and a Norman and Edna Freehling Scholar. 

With scholarship focused on age as a socio-legal category, legal issues in aging, and theoretical and doctrinal questions in inheritance law, Boni- Saenz says his interest in aging and the law stems from a close relationship with his grandmother when he was growing up. Ever since he was young, he has sought volunteer opportunities with older adults, including at nursing homes.

“That got me interested and upset about some of the conditions in which people live out their later days,” he says. “I ended up going to get a master’s in social policy with a focus on aging policy. And then I got interested in the legal side, which led me to law school.” 

Boni-Saenz served as a Bigelow Fellow and Lecturer at University of Chicago Law School and was a visiting professor at Washington University School of Law and University of Iowa Law. Prior to teaching, he clerked for Judge Diane P. Wood of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and practiced law as a Skadden Fellow at Legal Aid Chicago, where he created a medical-legal partnership for low-income seniors. He earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor for the Harvard Law Review and the Harvard Latino Law Review. He holds a M.Sc. in Social Policy from the London School of Economics and an A.B. from Harvard College, where he was a Truman Scholar. 

His scholarly research has appeared in publications including the Washington University Law Review, Boston College Law Review, Southern California Law Review, and UCLA Law Review. He has taught courses in property, trusts and estates, health law, elder law, and Latinx and the law. 

“The Law School is a very prominent and well-respected institution that provides a great platform for work I want to do,” Boni-Saenz says. “For me, in particular, there’s an aging consortium that exists at the university that brings together people doing all types of age and aging-related work. I’m excited to be part of that.”

Sapna Kumar

Sapna Kumar 

Sapna Kumar joins the Law School as the Henry J. Fletcher Professor of Law. Previously, she was the John Mixon Chair of Law at the University of Houston Law Center, where she was a faculty member for 14 years. 

With a background in intellectual property and administrative law, Kumar has written extensively about the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and has experience in international intellectual property law. As a 2018–2019 Fulbright- Schuman Innovation Grant recipient, Kumar researched Europe’s use of technically trained patent judges at the University of Strasbourg’s Center for International Intellectual Property Studies and at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition in Munich. 

“We have family here, so I’m thrilled not only to join the faculty but to live in Minnesota,” she says. “I also deeply appreciate Minnesota Law’s commitment to academic freedom.” 

Kumar, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, is a registered patent attorney and has practiced intellectual property litigation. A faculty fellow and part of the Center for Genome Ethics Law & Policy at Duke University of Law School, she also clerked for Judge Kenneth Ripple in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Her work has been published in both science and legal publications, and she has presented her research around the world. Her article “Contractual Solutions to Overcome Drug Scarcity During Pandemics and Epidemics” (with Ana Santos Rutschman) was published in Nature Biotechnology, and her follow-up book chapter, “Planning for Pandemic and Epidemic-Related Drug Scarcity” (with Ana Santos Rutschman), will be published in Intellectual Property, COVID-19, and the Next Pandemic: Diagnosing Problems, Developing Cures (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press). 

She teaches courses in property law, legislation and regulation, and advanced administrative law. 

“I’m looking forward to helping expand the intellectual property offerings at the Law School and hopefully expose more students to IP law,” she says. “When I cover property law, which is a required first-year class, I spend a few classes talking about intellectual property so students can get exposed to it and consider if it is something they’re interested in. We have a Master of Science in patent law for people with scientific backgrounds who are interested in becoming patent agents, which I’m interested in getting more involved with as well.” 

Jack Whiteley

Jack Whiteley 

Jack Whiteley joins Minnesota Law from a previous position at Georgetown University Law Center, where he taught and practiced environmental law as a fellow and supervising attorney in the Environmental Law & Justice Clinic. He teaches and writes in the areas of environmental law, property, and evidence. His publications have appeared in the Cornell Law Review, Northwestern University Law Review, and Mississippi Law Journal

His scholarly interests cover issues in environmental law, property, and evidence, including the conceptual and historical foundations of these fields. 

Whiteley earned his J.D. at Yale Law School, where he was a Coker Fellow and executive editor of the Yale Journal of International Law. He was a litigation associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and clerked for Judge Richard R. Clifton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Honolulu. 

“I am looking forward to helping prepare students to become first-year lawyers,” he says. “I hope for students to learn not only the rules and principles of the laws that the courses cover, but also to develop skills in legal reasoning, writing, and speaking. These skills are often helpful to lawyers soon after they leave law school.” 

“I would like to create a learning environment where everyone is excited to participate and get good conversations going,” he continues. “I’ve found that when I was a student, those were the classes in which I learned the most effectively.”