From Infants to Elders: Prepare for Any Form of Family Law Practice
Families are more diverse than ever, and the practice of family law and children’s law in the 21st century is more challenging and rewarding than ever. Family Law lawyers help people deal with some of the most difficult issues in life. In this area attorneys handle divorce and child custody, child and spousal support, prenuptial agreements, guardianship, adoptions, surrogacy, and estate planning. Lawyers working on children’s law issues work in dependency (child abuse and neglect), education, juvenile delinquency or policy advocacy. Family law is also interdisciplinary as related issues arise in business law, criminal law (domestic violence), immigration law, international law, and juvenile justice (child abuse and juvenile delinquency).
"The Miami Scholars Program supported my interests and encouraged me to explore various opportunities in the public sector...this has led to an interest in family law and protecting the rights of children.”
Sydney Towne, J.D. '17
Collaborative Attorney, Marks and West and Collaborative Family Law Institute
For private sector careers, lawyers work anywhere from sole practitioners, to small law firms, to larger firms with matrimonial and wealth management practices for clients with high net worth. In the public sector, family and children’s law lawyers may work for legal services, national non-profit organizations, the public defender’s office, or state government in child welfare, juvenile delinquency or education. Through our cutting-edge Children & Youth Law Clinic, students work at the intersection of, dependency, health law, education and immigration law. Miami Law prepares students not only to know the relevant law in a broad range of family and juvenile law topics, but also to develop other essential skills such as negotiation, mediation, advocacy and client counseling.
-Top 10 in Family Law, Pre-Law Magazine fall 2020
-The Children & Youth Law Clinic was honored by The Florida Bar Foundation’s 2019 Paul Doyle Children’s Advocacy Award. (Pictured)
-The Public Interest Law Section of the Florida Bar awarded Professor Bernard Perlmutter of the Children & Youth Law Clinic with the 2017 Hugh Glickstein Child Advocate of the Year Award for his contributions in the field of children’s law.
-Robert Latham of the Children & Youth Law Clinic, was awarded the 2016 Florida Guardian ad Litem Program's Excellence in Advocacy Award.
“Cases come to life when you are in the Children & Youth Law Clinic. They become more than words or theories. Our clients were real young people, often the most forgotten in society, who need things that others take for granted. In the clinic, we learned to use our legal knowledge to innovate, we learned how to advocate, and we learned how to care.”
Jessica L. Yates, J.D. ‘11
Managing Partner, Family law and Guardian ad Litem, Yates Legal Group
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Experiential Learning Opportunities
Florida Family Law: Complex Financial Issues
- Guardian ad Litem Certification: Become certified and serve as a court-appointed advocate for an abused, abandoned, and/or neglected child or youth.
- Empowered Youth: Help at-risk young men between the ages of 12 and 19. Law students assist with tutoring and mentoring.
- Books & Buddies: Get paired with a local elementary school student to share and communicate the excitement of reading through the exchange of letters.
- EEOC Human Trafficking Outreach and Education: Assist victims of human trafficking and sex trafficking and help raise awareness.
- Domestic Violence: Collaborate with several legal services agencies and community organizations dedicated to serving the needs of indigent and low-income women and their families.
“Prosecutors hold significant power in the juvenile justice field, and the fact that they are seeking advice about how to implement diversion programs to reduce the incarceration rates of young people and to address racial and ethnic disparities is a hopeful development.”
Daniel Pollit, J.D. ‘19
Judicial Law Clerk, Colorado 20th Judicial District
Scholarships & Fellowships
UM Graduate School Partnerships
Miami Law’s Children & Youth Law Clinic is a key partner, along with UM’s School of Education and Human Development, in First Star University of Miami Academy -- a holistic college prep program for youth impacted by the child welfare system.
Miami Law’s Health Rights Clinic has a medical-legal partnership with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to provide legal services at its Pediatric Mobile Clinic; there law students speak with mobile clinic visitors about legal issues such as special education placements, public benefits, and children who qualify for special immigrant juvenile status.
Concentration - Social Justice & Public Interest
Area of Focus - Immigration, Asylum and Citizenship Law
J.D./M.P.H. - Public Health - School of Law and Miller School of Medicine/Graduate Programs in Public Health
J.D./M.S.Ed. - Law, Community and Social Change - School of Law and School of Education & Human Development
“All of our clinics are united by the belief that people on the margins of society have difficulty being heard and can benefit by what we do. But we’re also teaching students not to practice law in a cookie-cutter way.”
Professor Bernard Perlmutter
Donna Coker, Professor of Law and Dean's Distinguised Scholar, is a national expert on domestic violence.
Zanita E. Fenton, Professor of Law, teaches family law and her research interests cover issues of structural inequality and forms of subordination, including those of race, gender and class.
Mary Anne Franks, Professor of Law and Dean's Distinguised Scholar, teaches Family Law and is an internationally recognized expert on the intersection of civil rights and technology.
Robert Latham, Clinical Instructor and Practitioner-in-Residence of the Children & Youth Law Clinic
Marni Lennon, Assistant Dean, Public Interest & Pro Bono; Director, HOPE Public Interest Resource Center & Lecturer in Law
JoNel Newman, Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director, Health Rights Clinic
Bernard P. Perlmutter, Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Co-Director, Children & Youth Law Clinic
Kele Stewart, Associate Dean for Experiential Learning, Professor of Clinical Legal Education, Co-Director, Children & Youth Law Clinic
Melissa Swain, Associate Director, Health Rights Clinic & Lecturer in Law
Judge Ellen Sue Venzer, adjunct faculty, is a Circuit Court Judge in the Criminal Division of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida in Miami and the University of Miami’s Judge-in-Residence and teaches in the area of children and the law.
Kira E. Willig, adjunct faculty, teaches Florida Family Law: Parenting Issues.
Sampling of Past Internships / Externships
“The best part of my job is seeing the impact it has on the families with whom I work.”
Mia Olsen, J.D. ‘10
Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General
ACLU of Florida’s LGBTQ Rights Division
11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, Domestic Violence Division
Center for Children’s Law and Policy-CCLP (Washington, DC)
Center for Reproductive Rights (New York, NY)
Council for Children’s Rights (Charlotte, NC)
Juvenile Division of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office
Lambda Legal (New York, NY)
National Women’s Law Center (Washington, DC)
New York Legal Assistance Group – Family and Marital Law Department (New York, NY)
The Door (New York, NY)
U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (Atlanta, GA)
*Lists courses currently or recently offered in this area, but this list is not exhaustive nor does it set out a path of study.