Alumni Spotlights

Michael J. Kelly, J.D., '94

Professor of Law and associate dean for international programs and faculty research, Creighton University School of Law

Michael J. Kelly, J.D., '94

I couldn't imagine a more rewarding job than teaching and writing about international law

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Career plans have a way of evolving, provided one is alert and open to opportunities.

Consider Professor Michael J. Kelly, ’94, as an example.

Teaching and leading an international law program weren’t on Kelly’s radar when he graduated from IU McKinney. Rather, his aim was to practice environmental law, and his first job was as an attorney with the Rules and Regulations Section of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. He worked for 18 months on a rewrite of Indiana’s wastewater rules.

When the rules were not adopted, Kelly decided to rethink his career goals and enrolled in an LL.M. program at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he earned an LL.M. in International Law. He then taught at Michigan State University College of Law for five years before moving to Creighton.

Now, Kelly is the coordinator for the International and Comparative Law Program at Creighton University School of Law, where he has been on the faculty since 2001. He is associate dean for international programs and faculty research at his law school.

It’s not surprising that he ended up immersed in international law, considering Kelly says he was “always interested in maps as a kid! My love for geography and history naturally drew me to this area of the law.”

The Indiana International & Comparative Law Review was only three years old when Kelly was an editor on the staff, demonstrating that his affinity for international law was prevalent even while he was a law student. While at IU McKinney, he also served as president of the Student Bar Association.

“The concepts and ideas underpinning public international law and all of its branches drew me to begin writing in the field, studying it at Georgetown, and then teaching it as my profession,” Kelly said. “I couldn’t imagine a more rewarding job than teaching and writing about international law, explaining its importance, and exploring its reaches.”

Kelly is president of the U.S. National Chapter of L’Association International du Droit Pénal, a Paris-based society of international and criminal law scholars, judges, and attorneys. The group has special consultative status with the United Nations.

The group isn’t Kelly’s only tie to the UN. He has presented his views on UN Security Council reform to the Academic Council of the UN System in New York, and has consulted with the Kurdish regional parliament in Erbil.