NOTE: Course offerings change. Classes offered this semester may not be offered in future semesters.

281.1 sec. 1 - Sustaining Children and Families: 21st Century Challenges (Spring 2012)

Instructor: Joan Heifetz Hollinger  (view instructor's teaching evaluations | profile)
View all teaching evaluations for this course

Units: 2
Meeting Time: Tu 6:25-9:05
Meeting Location: 107

Course Start: January 10, 2012
Course Control Number (1Ls): 51254 (section 2)
Course Control Number (Non-1Ls): 49969

This seminar is intended for students interested in cutting-edge parentage and family law issues and in devising effective legal and socio-cultural strategies to protect and sustain children both within and beyond our borders.

Biomedical and technological advances as well as dramatic societal and demographic changes are challenging traditional understandings of family and parent-child relationships. A complex and confusing system of state, federal, and international laws and policies facilitates, but also significantly impedes, the legal recognition and protection of our increasingly diverse contemporary families. Particularly at risk of uncertainty about their legal status are children conceived or acquired as a result of assisted reproduction, children raised by same-sex parents, children abused or neglected by their biological parents, children “trafficked” from one country to another and undocumented children and youth. Students in this seminar will have an opportunity to think and write about various ways to mitigate the threats to the legal stability and emotional security of these children and their families.

Students will be encouraged to undertake an original project that culminates in an 18-20 page paper that may take various forms, including a theoretical or doctrinal analysis, a case study based on empirical research, a well-crafted legislative or policy proposal, a critical assessment of the efficacy of class action litigation aimed at reforming the child welfare system, or a “Brandeis brief” synthesizing the social science research relevant to pending federal court appeals, including the litigation challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Students can use their work in this seminar as a basis for satisfying their Writing Requirement by completing a more substantial paper (30 pages) in the Spring or Fall 2012 semester and enrolling in a one-unit of Law 299 under Professor Hollinger’s supervision.

During the first seven to eight weeks of the semester we are likely to meet for three hours [150 min plus 10 min break] each week. Students will frame and begin their research projects while we all discuss relevant theoretical and doctrinal materials as well as specific parentage and child welfare cases, legislative initiatives and policy proposals. After that, we will not meet regularly until the final two to three weeks of the semester when students will present and critique each other's paper drafts. In the interim, everyone will have an opportunity to discuss their projects individually with me and many other Bay Area child welfare and adoption experts. Final papers will be due at the end of the exam period.

A tentative syllabus will be posted during TeleBears. Prof. Hollinger would be pleased to discuss the seminar with potentially interested students either via e-mail or in person.

No prerequisites, although familiarity with general family law principles would be helpful. LLM students and visiting scholars are welcome as well as J.D. students.

This course may satisfy the Writing Requirement.

Exam Notes: P
Course Category: Family Law
This course is cross-listed in the following categories:
Law and Society
Public Law and Policy
Social Justice and Public Interest

The following file is available for this course:


If you are the instructor or their FSU, you may edit your files.

No reader.

Instructor has indicated that no books will be assigned.

Go to Course Search