NSBA Award Recipient Helps Transgender People Change Names


Jessica Källström-Schreckengost
By 
Molly Ashford
The Daily Record

Jessica Källström-Schreckengost knows the power in a name. 

From New York City to Omaha, the young lawyer has provided pro bono services to transgender people to assist in the legal name change process. She was honored last week with the Award of Special Merit during the Nebraska State Bar Association 2020 Annual Meeting.

“I consider myself very fortunate to be able to provide pro bono assistance to trans folks seeking a legal name change,” she said. “At a very basic level, it’s about helping people gain control and privacy as they navigate public and private spaces and systems – something we should all be entitled to.”

A native of small-town Appalachia, Källström-Schreckengost graduated from Barnard College with a degree in psychology before earning her J.D. from the Rutgers University School of Law.

She went on to work in the New York office of international law firm Cleary Gottlieb LLP. Shortly after she and her wife had their first son, the couple decided to move to Omaha to be near extended family. After the move, she began working at the Omaha office of national workplace law firm Jackson Lewis P.C.

At both firms, she focused her work on ensuring transgender people were affirmed and protected.

“I actually did this type of pro bono work when I practiced in New York,” she said. “When I first moved to Omaha, I had no idea how to continue my pro bono name change process.”

The path forward became clear when, two years into her Omaha practice, Källström-Schreckengost met Megan Smith-Sallans, the director of behavioral health at Nebraska Medicine’s Transgender Care Clinic.

“I mentioned my desire to resume my pro bono name change work and she immediately connected me with all her social work colleagues at the clinic to set up a referral system,” she said.

The partnership has led to over 20 pro bono name change cases handled by Källström-Schreckengost and her colleagues at Jackson Lewis.

When she isn’t taking name change cases, she specializes in representing management in employment litigation. She also conducts trainings with employers on harassment prevention and the onboarding and retention of transgender or transitioning employees.

Outside of work, she spends her time in nature or wrangling her four children, including a set of triplets.

“This award is a reflection of the Nebraska State Bar’s true commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Källström-Schreckengost said. “It recognizes the value and role that I and other lawyers have had in affirming and supporting transgender members of our community.”

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