Family Law

Preparing you for any form of family law practice.

Law students with professor Catherine Brooks in family law course

Family Law Concentration

Your Experience

You have the opportunity to specialize in three different tracks - Family Law Practice, Children’s Law, and Elder Law – or pursue a general family law concentration.

Your Courses

The Family Law Concentration is designed to help you become practice ready in any of the three tracks offered, but you are not required to specialize in a particular track, particularly if you choose to take only the courses required. You must earn 21 credits from a group of five required courses and by choosing one course in each of two required areas, Track Direction and Lawyering Skills. The required courses are Family Law Practice, a 3L spring simulation course; its two prerequisites, Marriage & Divorce and Federal Income Tax; Children, Families & the State; and Elder Law. Several additional courses comprise the Track Direction options: selected externships (listed below at the drop-down menu), Estate Planning, Juvenile Offender Law, and the Milton Abrahams Clinic. The Lawyering Skills component includes courses focused on the skills that family lawyers use in their practices: Client Interviewing & Legal Counseling (CILC); Legal Interviewing, Negotiating, & Counseling (LINC); Mediation; and Negotiation.

The recommended courses, listed below, round out the 3L year in ways intended to create a solid foundation of information and skills necessary for successful family law practice. Suggested course planning guides are also listed below. The concentration advisor, Professor Catherine Brooks, assists students in planning careers in family law and can help you put together a two- to four-semester plan of coursework to prepare you for what you want to do in family law practice.

Required Courses

Family Law Practice, the capstone practice-readying course limited to 3L students in their final semester, is required of all students who seek to complete the Family Law concentration. The prerequisites for that course are two elective courses, Marriage & Divorce and Federal Income Tax (the latter of which may be taken concurrently with Family Law Practice), and all required courses of the first and second years.  Marriage & Divorce and Federal Income Tax, therefore, are included as required core courses; the other required core courses are Children, Families & the State and Elder Law.

Additional course requirements are laid out in option plans that will allow a student to choose a particular track of family law work.  The Track Course options are designed to allow students discretion in directing their education through their second and third years.  For example, a student may opt for a more experiential education by choosing the Milton Abrahams Clinic, an externship selected from a list of available family-practice-oriented externships, and Advanced Legal Writing & Drafting; or a student may opt for a progression of classroom-based courses that focuses on elder law, such as Estate & Gift Tax and Estate Planning. 

Students are also required to take at least one course that develops the skills most commonly needed in a successful family law practice; their options are Mediation; Negotiation; Legal Interviewing, Negotiating & Counseling (LINC); and Client Interviewing & Legal Counseling (CILC).  (Students are reminded that they cannot take both Negotiation and LINC for credit, due to the overlap of material covered in those courses).  Client Interviewing & Legal Counseling has no overlap with Negotiation; therefore, students may take both CILC and Negotiation to develop their skills more intensively – for interacting with clients and for negotiating with other counsel.

Required Courses:

LAW 358 Family Law Practice (3)
LAW 357 Marriage & Divorce (4)
LAW 363 Federal Income Tax (3)
LAW 334 Children, Families, & State (3)
LAW 350 Elder Law (3)

Choose at least 1 Track Course:

  • LAW 353 Estate Planning (3)
  • LAW 386 Juvenile Offender Law (3)
  • LAW 388 Milton Abrahams Clinic (4)
  • Selected Externships (4)

Choose at least 1 skills course:

  • LAW 328 Client Interviewing & Legal Counseling (3)
  • LAW 404 Mediation (3)
  • LAW 410 Negotiation (3)

Family Law Practice Track

Students can progress through a track in many ways to meet their scheduling needs.  Here’s a suggested progression of coursework for the Family Law Practice track:

Second Year

FALL                                                      SPRING

Business Associations  (4)                      Commercial Law (3)
Conflicts of Law (3)                               Criminal Procedure (3)
Evidence (3)                                           Client Interviewing
                                                                  & Legal Counseling (3)
Legal Research and Writing III (2)        Professional Responsibility (3)
Marriage & Divorce* (4)                       Trust & Estates I (3 or 4)                            

Third Year

FALL                                                       SPRING

Bankruptcy I (3)                                      Bankruptcy II (3)
Children, Families, & the State (3)         Family Law Practice (3)    
Elder Law (3)                                          Federal Income Tax (3)
Mediation (3)                                          Juvenile Offender Law (3)
Milton Abrahams Clinic** (4)               Negotiation (3)

*Marriage & Divorce is also offered in the summer, usually in the second session, beginning in July.
** Or Selected Externships (4)

Children's Law Track

Students who plan on representing children and adolescents in law practice – or parents, the State, or state agencies involved with families – can progress through the Children’s Law Track in a number of ways that meet their scheduling needs.  Here’s a suggested progression of coursework to consult:

Second Year

FALL                                                              SPRING

Business Associations (4)                               Commercial Law (3)
Children, Families, & the State (3)                 Criminal Procedure (3)
Evidence (3)                                                    Juvenile Offender Law (3)
Legal Research and Writing III (2)                 Professional Responsibility (3)
Trust & Estates I (3 or 4)                                ADR (2)

Third Year

FALL                                                              SPRING

Conflicts of Laws (3)                                      Education Law (3)
Elder Law (3)                                                  Client Interviewing
                                                                           & Legal Counseling (3)
Federal Income Tax (3)                                   Family Law Practice (3)
Marriage & Divorce* (4)                                Mediation (3)
Milton Abrahams Clinic (4)                           Selected Externships (4)

*Marriage & Divorce is also offered in the summer, usually in the second session, beginning in July.

Elder Law Track

For students who want to prepare to engage in an estate planning or elder law practice, here is a suggested progression of courses to guide planning their 2L and 3L semesters:

Second Year

FALL                                                             SPRING

Business Associations (4)                              Commercial Law (3)
Children, Families, & the State (3)                Criminal Procedure (3)
Evidence (3)                                                   Federal Income Tax* (3)
Legal Research and Writing III (2)                Professional Responsibility (3)
Trust & Estates I (3 or 4)                               Selected Externships (4)                              

Third Year

FALL                                                             SPRING                              

Bankruptcy I (3)                                             Bankruptcy II (3)    
Elder Law (3)                                                 Estate Planning (2)
Estate & Gift Tax (3)                                     Family Law Practice (3)
Health Law Survey (3)                                  Mediation (3)
Marriage & Divorce** (4)                            Taxation of Business
                                                                          Enterprises*** (4)

* Federal Income Tax must be completed by the 2L spring semester for a student to qualify for Estate & Gift Tax, which is only offered in the fall semesters; it is a pre-requisite for Estate Planning, which is only offered in the spring semesters.
** Marriage & Divorce is also offered in the summer, usually in the second session, beginning in July.
*** Professor Morse recommends students become familiar with the tax consequences of forming, operating, and liquidating small businesses, partnerships, and limited liability companies – both for succession and other planning for the aging client and for the lawyer who is considering retirement and leaving practice.

Recommended Electives

Advanced Legal Writing & Drafting (2-3)
Alternative Dispute Resolution (2-3)
Bankruptcy I  (3)
Bankruptcy II (3)
Conflict of Laws (3)
Education Law (3)
Estate & Gift Tax (3)
Health Law Survey (3)
Selected Externships (4) 
Selected Research Projects* (1-3)
Taxation of Business Enterprises (4)

*Selected research projects, chosen to enhance the student’s understanding of a topic within the concentration area, may be undertaken with the approval of the concentration advisor.