Family and Juvenile Law Focus Area

The Family and Juvenile Law Focus Area is structured consistently with our other focus areas: it has a set of required foundational courses, a required skills component, a set of electives to choose amongst for additional courses, and a set of related courses that do not count towards completion of the focus area but may be of interest to students intending to practice in the family law field.

The Family Dissolution course covers the topics of greatest importance in the day-to-day practice of family law. These are also the topics most likely to be covered on the Washington State bar exam. Any lawyer with a practice primarily devoted to family law will need to be conversant with these topics. By contrast, the Family Formation course devotes substantial time to constitutional law and also includes consideration of comparative law. It will be of greater interest to those desiring a more theoretical and critical consideration of family law topics.

A student deeply interested in family law would do well to take both of these courses. A student who expects to devote a significant amount of energy in practice to family law matters could benefit from both courses as well. Family Dissolution is the better choice for those wishing to attain basic familiarity with core concepts of family law, whether for the bar of for practice. For those wishing a greater exposure to constitutional law and policy issues that dominate the developing edges of family law, the Family Formation course is likely preferable.

Students Who Should Take This Focus

This focus is very useful for those students wishing to develop a law practice focusing on family and juvenile law after graduation. It may also be helpful to those who expect to go into a more general small practice, as these practices often include the regular practice of family and juvenile law. Students who are interested in exploring the developing trends in family and juvenile law, even though they have no expectation of practicing in the area, may also benefit from this focus area.

Family and Juvenile Law Faculty

Career Faculty
Janet Ainsworth Child, Family and State
Lisa Brodoff Elder Law
Paul Holland Youth Advocacy Clinic
Julie Shapiro* Family Formation/Recognition, Advanced Family Law Seminar, Law & Sexuality

*Focus Area Chair

Adjunct Faculty
Don Desonier Client Counseling and Negotiation, Dispute Resolution
Dee Knapp Client Counseling and Negotiation, Mediation, Mediation Advocacy and Collaborative Law
Huy Nguyen Public Benefits Law
Tom Platt Dispute Resoultion
Raegan Rasnic Adoption Law

Focus Area Requirements

The focus area requires students to take three foundational courses, a skills component course, at least two courses chosen from an approved list of electives, and a capstone course. Plan the completion of your focus area with a focus area tracking form.

Course Descriptions

Foundational Courses (three courses required)

  • Family Dissolution and Related Issues (3 cr) or
  • Family Formation/Recognition (3 cr) plus:
    • Community Property (2 cr)
    • Dispute Resolution (3 cr)

Skills Component (at least one course required)

  • Client Counseling and Negotiation (3 cr)
  • Mediation, Mediation Advocacy and Collaborative Law (3 cr)
  • Family Law Drafting Lab (1 cr)
  • Domestic Violence Clnic (6 cr)
  • Youth Advocacy Clinic (6 cr)

Electives (at least two required)

  • Bankruptcy (3 cr)
  • Child, Family and State (3 cr)
  • Domestic Violence (2 cr)
  • Elder Law (3 cr)  
  • Gift and Estate Tax (3 cr)
  • Individual Income Taxation (4 cr)
  • Poverty Law (3 cr)
  • Public Benefits Law (3 cr)
  • Trusts & Estates (3 cr)

Capstone Course (one course required)

  • Advanced Family Law Seminar (2-3 cr)
  • Independent Study in Family Law (2 cr)

Additional Related Courses

The following courses do not count towards the completion of the family law focus area, but may be of interest to students planning careers in the family and juvenile law area.

  • Gender and Justice (3 credits)
  • Immigration Law (3 credits)
  • Law and Sexuality (2 credits)