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Family Court Review

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The Family Law Education Reform Project (FLER ) Final Report documented that the current doctrinally oriented family law curriculum at most law schools does not adequately prepare students for modern family law practice. FLER recommended that law school courses move from the study of cases to the study of the legal system’s effect on families, and integrate the study of alternative dispute resolution and interdisciplinary knowledge. In response, Hofstra Law School has made a comprehensive attempt to implement FLER’s curricular recommendations. This article discusses one major innovation – the Family Law with Skills course. Family Law with Skills is the basic course in Hofstra’s revised curriculum and is designed to integrate doctrinal teaching with professional skills development. In addition to studying legal doctrine, students are required to engage in structured field observation of family court proceedings; interviewing, counseling, negotiation, and mediation representation exercises in a divorce dispute; direct and cross examination of a social worker in a child protection dispute; and drafting of a surrogacy agreement. The article describes each exercise and discusses its rationale, student reaction to the course, and lessons learned.

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Family Law Commons