To practice family law is to assist people with legal issues that pertain to the most intimate facets of life: marriage and divorce, child custody, adoption, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, termination of parental rights, domestic violence, and protection orders. Some sub-specialties may involve the interface between family law and immigration; planning for family members with disabilities; health care; and personal taxes. Often family law lawyers will handle other transactions important to individuals such as real estate transfers and contracts. The related and more expansive field of elder law assists clients in planning for retirement, health care management, long-term care, employment discrimination, Medicare, Medicaid, social security, elder abuse, and guardianships.

Estate planning similarly relates to critical aspects of personal life, including post-mortem planning, and creating wills, trusts, and other transfers that pass property to intended beneficiaries efficiently, in the most appropriate forms, and with the most favorable tax outcomes. For clients with significant assets, the tax planning aspects of an estate practice is extremely important. Estate planning also involves representing executors or heirs and beneficiaries in the probate process.

Much family law and estate planning practice occurs in small and medium sized firms or solo practice. Opportunities may also include a career as a family court judge, working with agencies charged with the welfare of children or vulnerable adults, and legislative advocacy. Careers at trust companies, elder rights advocacy groups, hospitals and nursing homes, disability law organizations, charitable organizations, probate courts and other settings are also possibilities. Working with government agencies responsible for entitlement programs and health oversight also involves related knowledge.

Some family law and estate planning involves litigation, particularly in specialized family law and probate courts. However, much of the private practice in these fields involves planning and counseling. Thus, courses that develop skills needed to effectively represent individuals are critically important. Opportunities to hone these skills and learn the substantive areas are also available in through the law school’s Families and the Law Clinic and externships.

Foundational Courses

  • Family Law
  • Trusts and Estates

Specialization Courses

  • Immigration Law: Employment, Family and Naturalization
  • Juvenile Law
  • Gender, Law and Policy
  • Real Estate Transactions
  • Federal Income Taxation
  • Wealth Management
  • Tax on Wealth Transfers/Estate Planning
  • ERISA: Pensions (Tax Policy)

Clinics, Skills, and Externships

  • Families and the Law Clinic
  • Low Income Tax Clinic
  • Immigrant Refugee Advocacy Clinic
  • Interviewing, Counseling, and Negotiating Skills
  • Legal Drafting: General Drafting
  • Mediation and Arbitration Skills
  • Professional Speaking in Legal Settings
  • Starting and Managing a Solo Law Practice
Faculty: Professors Brustin, Jefferson, Klein, Silecchia