Family Practice

Taught by Peggy Cooper Davis
Developed in collaboration with Danielle Davenport

Through a program of readings, discussion, and simulated practice, students 1) explore laws governing family life and 2) work to develop their skills at at interpreting and applying those laws to help clients manage their family lives. Simulations focus on marriage and other intimate partnerships and on child protection.

Students experience the dynamic interpersonal, intrapersonal and strategic dimensions of lawyering by working in role as lawyers with clients played by actor-teachers. Particular attention is paid to how the students navigate different identities, and to whether and how assumptions about race, gender, class and the like operate within the simulations.

Actor-teachers inhabit roles as, in the first simulation, two women in a committed partnership considering the question of marriage, and, in the second, the mother of an unvaccinated child held in state custody after wandering off while under the care of a family member, and social workers assigned to the case in different capacities.

The students work to understand the clients’ needs, perspectives and goals and then to provide them with advice and representation. Students, the actor-teachers and Professor Davis participate in a multi-stage critique process that helps the students cultivate professional habits of reflection.