Family law refers to the area of law that deals with domestic issues, such as adoption, divorce, and custody. It is such a fundamental area of law that every law school at least offers a basic course in family law, domestic relations or other similar subject. Some schools even require the basic course as a prerequisite to graduation.
A law school that is geared toward family law will likely offer more than the basic family law or domestic relations course. Columbia Law School, considered to be a school with a top family law program, has ten courses related to family law. Advanced family law courses typically cover more complex issues in family law, such as juvenile justice, domestic violence and non-traditional family structures.
To evaluate whether a law school is geared toward family law, a prospective student should also explore the clinical experiences offered in the area of family law at the school. Clinics are offered by law schools so students may engage in the actual practice under the supervision of attorney professors. For example, George Manson University offers a Domestic Relations clinic, which gives students the opportunity to represent individuals in divorce proceedings. Students who desire to practice family law benefit from enrolling in a law school that has a family law clinic in order to gain valuable hands-on experience.
Law Schools geared toward family law may also offer publication opportunities. Some law schools support student-run scholarly journals. Students are able to research and write on a particular legal issue for the publication. These publication credits look great on a resume. For instance, Barry University School of Law houses the "Child and Family Law Journal," which addresses matters such civil unions, juvenile adjudication and divorces.
Lists and Research
U.S. News and World Reports publishes one of the most comprehensive guides to law schools. This list ranks law schools using a number of factors, including schools offering, family law curriculum and clinics. Though the report is a great reference, nothing beats independent research. Each law school publishes a list of courses, clinics, and publication opportunities on their website, which is the best way to determine whether a school is really geared toward family law.
A native of Nashville, Tenn., Dannelle F. Walker is an education lawyer and policy maker. Her areas of expertise include teacher liability, educator ethics, and school operations. She holds a JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law.