Nels J. Ackerson

Location: Washington, DC
Phone: 202-594-6825
Fax: 202-833-8831
Email: E-mail Me


2100907_1Mr. Ackerson practices in the areas of complex trial and appellate litigation, government relations, international law, constitutional law, property rights, and eminent domain. He has tried cases and argued appeals in federal and state courts across the United States and before international tribunals, including landmark cases in federal takings law, class action law, real estate law, farm credit law, and federal regulatory law. In addition to his other responsibilities, he currently is lead or co-lead counsel in class actions in more than 20 jurisdictions.

A former senior staff member of the United States Senate and congressional candidate, he is regularly involved in legislation and policy matters. He has represented clients and testified before congressional and state legislative committees, and he has developed legislative strategies and drafted and successfully urged passage of federal and state legislation.

Internationally, Mr. Ackerson has led legal efforts on behalf of clients in more than twenty countries on five continents. He founded the first joint venture law firm in Egypt, practicing across the Middle East, Europe and Asia, and he has represented clients in matters before the U.S. International Trade Commission; the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and State; and international arbitration before the International Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Ackerson has focused much of his practice on representing agricultural clients. He grew up on an Indiana farm, studied agriculture at Purdue, and is a former national FFA president. He knows the challenges faced by farmers, ranchers, suppliers, processors and others in agriculture. His agricultural representations include court, regulatory and legislative matters in takings law, class actions, real estate rights of way, agricultural finance, and biotechnology.

Other Interests

Family Time, Church, Family Farm in Westfield, Indiana, Traditional Neighborhood Development, Energy Security and Environmental Stewardship Policy, Writing Fiction, Constitutional and International History, Reading

Areas of Practice

  • Complex Trial and Appellate Litigation
  • Government Relations
  • International Law
  • Agricultural Law

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • Indiana
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court


  • Harvard University Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
    • J.D cum laude
    • Law Review: Harvard Law Review, Member
  • Purdue University
    • Honorary Doctorate
  • Purdue University
    • B.S
    • Honors: With Distinction
    • Honors: G.A. Ross Award, Outstanding Male Graduate
  • Harvard University
    • Master in Public Policy

Representative Cases

See list of Representative Cases.

Published Works

See list of published works.


  • Speaker, Right-of-Way Rights, Wrongs and Remedies, American Agricultural Law Association, 2002
  • Testimony, Indiana Legislative Study Committee on Natural Resources, 2002
  • Featured Speaker, Union Planters Bank Customer Appreciation Dinner, Farms, Families, Faith and Finances, 2002
  • Keynote Speaker, He Best Builds Lives of Other Men Who Starts from Within, Biennial Conclave of FarmHouse International Fraternity, 2002
  • Takings Litigation Against the Government in the Rails-to-Trails Program, Testimony, United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, 2002
  • Speaker, Corridor Valuation, Appraisal Institute and International Right-of-Way Association, 2002
  • Speaker, Right-of-Way Real Estate Valuation, Appraisal Institute, 2001

Honors and Awards

  • Chairman, Board of Directors, Class Corridor, LLC
  • Listed in Who’s Who in American Law, Who’s Who in the World, and Who’s Who in America
  • Acceptance of Distinguished Agricultural Alumnus Award, Purdue University, 2002

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • International Society of Barristers
  • International Right-of-Way Association
  • American Agricultural Law Association
  • American Bar Association
  • American Association of Justice
  • District of Columbia Bar Association
  • Indiana State Bar Association
  • Congress for the New Urbanism
  • Indiana Association of Cities & Towns, Associate Member
  • Indiana Farm Bureau

Past Employment Positions

  • Sommer Barnard Ackerson, Partner, 2002 – 2004
  • The Ackerson Group, Chartered (and Predecessor), Founder and Chair, 1991 – 2002
  • U.S. Advisory Delegation to Soviet Union on Transition to Market Economy, 1991
  • USDA Trade and Development Mission to Egypt and Yemen, Member, 1989
  • Sidley & Austin, Partner, 1982 – 1991
  • Sidley & Austin & Naguib, Cairo, Egypt, Managing Director, 1982 – 1985
  • Campbell, Kyle & Proffitt, Noblesville & Carmel, Indiana, Partner, 1979 – 1982
  • United States Congress, Fifth District, Indiana, Democratic Nominee, 1980
  • U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution (and Predecessor), Chief Counsel, 1976 – 1979
  • Barnes, Hickam, Pantzer & Boyd, Indianapolis, Associate, 1971 – 1976
  • Harvard Advisory Mission to the Government of Colombia, 1970

Pro Bono Activities

  • Participant, World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland (January 2001), New York (January 2002), Davos, Switzerland (January 2003)
  • National Press Club
  • United States Supreme Court Historical Society