UHLC profs explore changes in teaching family law as definition of ‘family’ evolves

Professors Tasha Willis, left, and Janet Heppard spoke on changes in the teaching and practice of family law at the mid-year meeting of the AALS.

July 10, 2015 – Two University of Houston Law Center faculty members discussed how academics can best respond to the changing face of family law during the recent mid-year meeting of the Association of American Law Schools.

Janet Heppard, associate professor of clinical practice and director of the Law Center’s clinic program, and Tasha Willis, mediation clinic professor and director of the school’s Alternative Dispute Resolution program, participated in a family law workshop panel discussion during the annual AALS meeting held June 22-26 in Orlando, Fl.

The two professors discussed how to make the best use of teaching and practice skills in response to diverse changes in family law and how best to prepare students for dealing with these changes in their practice.

Family law has changed dramatically in recent decades as non-traditional forms of family life have gained prominence, including cohabitation, LGBTQ relationships, single parent and one-person households, and other care networks. The diversity raises issues concerning the state’s role in family organization, parent-child relationships, and economics as well as changes in the law and the way it is taught.

“The Law Center is leading the way in teaching family law,” Heppard said, “teaching students how family law interacts with other areas of law, and demonstrating how a skills component can be included in a doctrinal course,”

“The workshop also allowed us to demonstrate how the school has made great strides in the advancement of the mediation clinic,” Willis added, “while focusing on how our mediation clinic serves as only one of three selected  by the Department of Justice to handle international child abduction mediations.”

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