Stu Dornan Receives Richard S. Arnold Award for Distinguished Service from Eighth Circuit Bar Association

The “Richard S. Arnold Award for Distinguished Service” was recently awarded by the Eighth Circuit Bar Association to Stu Dornan of the Dornan Law Team.

Stu’s distinguished legal career began over 35 years ago, when he graduated law school at Louisiana State University, and has been dedicated to service in a wide-ranging arc through the criminal justice system. As a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Randolph H. Parro in Louisiana, Stu learned the “Parro method,” a very disciplined analysis of legal issues which became the foundation of Stu’s approach to law. After the completion of his clerkship, in 1984, Stu joined the ranks of the FBI as a Special Agent in Omaha, Nebraska. He then did a 180-degree turn in 1988 to work for the Terrebonne Parish Indigent Defender’s Office in Louisiana. He continued practicing criminal defense when his wife’s job moved the family to the Woodlands, Texas in 1989. In 1990, Stu and his family returned to Omaha where he became an associate, then partner, at the law firm of Gallup & Schaefer.

In 2003, Stu returned to the prosecutorial side of the criminal justice system, as the Douglas County Attorney, serving until December 2006. While County Attorney, Stu was the driving force behind restorative justice initiatives, including the birth of the Young Adult Court, Juvenile Assessment Center, and Mental Health Diversion initiatives. Four years later, Stu returned to the world of criminal defense and co-founded the law form of Dornan, Troia, Howard, Breitkreutz & Conway (Dornan Law Team) where he continues representing individuals charged with crimes and mentoring young lawyers. Over the last thirteen years, the Dornan Law Team has grown to a midsize law firm of 13 attorneys, where he spends a substantial portion of his practice in federal court.

Stu has received numerous honors, including Best Lawyers in America and Great Plains Super Lawyer. He has an AV/Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell. Stu is a Lifetime Fellow of the Nebraska State Bar Foundation and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Formerly, Stu was president of the Omaha Bar Association, and has served on the Nebraska Federal Practice Committee, the Board of Directors of the Nebraska Criminal Defense Association, and as a Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission Hearing Examiner.

While Stu was actively building his career and reputation in the private and public sectors, he was also actively building his family at home with his wife Dari, whom he met at law school over 35 years ago. Stu and Dari have four biological children, five internationally adopted children, and four grandchildren. The Dornans have received several awards from adoption and family organizations, and Stu has coached many young women and men in various sports and has contributed to numerous community and church organizations, as well as serving as a member of United States Senator Chuck Hagel’s Military Academy Selection Committee.

The award was presented during the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference held in Colorado Springs, Colorado on October 29, 2021. The award is named in honor of former Chief Judge Richard S. Arnold, who led a distinguished career that included graduating first in his class at Yale University and Harvard Law School. Judge Arnold clerked for Justice William Brennan on the Supreme Court of the United States before entering private practice and serving on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Arnold’s biographer said that he was “perhaps the best judge never to serve on the Supreme Court.” The award is fitting for Mr. Dornan, who likewise has achieved a career of distinguished service.