By Michele Hong, CFCC Program Manager
The University of Baltimore School of Law and its Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) are excited to announce the launch of the nation’s first Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law. Classes begin in Fall 2017 at the University of Baltimore School of Law (UB Law). The program is a shining example of how UB Law and CFCC remain on the cutting-edge of family law and family law education reform.
This innovative certificate program was developed to meet a pressing need for the professional development of new attorneys who are beginning to practice in the family law area or for those experienced attorneys who seek to add family law expertise to their practice areas.
In many states, family law caseloads represent from one-third to one-half of all cases. For example, in Maryland for FY2015, family law cases constituted 43% of the trial court filings – more than any other type of case. Given the proliferation of family law cases, there is a great need for attorneys to practice in this area, and that need is likely to increase. Courts continue to see large numbers of self-represented litigants in family law cases, many of whom cannot find affordable attorneys.
Further, over the past decade, family law litigation has become increasingly complex. As the family structure evolves, new intricacies arise in what was once considered routine family law disputes. More children are born out of wedlock, are raised by single parents, or are raised by same -sex couples than in prior decades. Among others, these demographics highlight the need for highly trained family law practitioners who can address effectively the legal and non-legal issues raised by these changing structures. Moreover, approaches to family law are becoming more holistic, with a greater focus on the wellness of the “whole family.” As a result, it is increasingly important for attorneys to understand the mental health and developmental needs of the families they serve, as well as the nuts and bolts of case law and statutes.
The Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law is a recognition of the need to train attorneys to handle family law cases effectively. With the assistance of a Practitioners’ Advisory Workgroup (PAW) comprised of UB Law faculty and staff, family law judges, attorneys, and other professionals who are experts in the field of family law, CFCC and the PAW have designed an appropriate curriculum for the program, have identified qualified instructors, and have received approval from the requisite accrediting bodies.
The Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law is geared to working professionals. Classes are scheduled in the evenings and on weekends. The program focuses on teaching knowledge and skills that lawyers can use in their practice through hands-on, real-world experiences. The 16 credits can be completed in 12 months of study or at an individual’s own pace. Program faculty include experienced practitioners and UB Law faculty. Students who have completed concentrations in family law can apply to receive Advanced Standing and waive one of the classes. Financial aid is available.
The curriculum, taught in seminar and workshop format, covers in-depth the subject areas that arise in family law cases, such as psychology, child development, mental health, and financial fundamentals, plus a summer capstone that takes students through a typical family law case from start to finish.
The course offerings are as follows:
- Psychology, Child Development, and Mental Health in Family Law Matters (3 credits) (Fall 2017)
- Financial Foundations for Family Lawyers (3 credits) (Fall 2017)
- The Craft of Problem-Solving and Advocacy in Family Law (3 credits) (Spring 2018)
- Understanding the Business of Practicing Family Law (3 credits) (Spring 2018)
- Working Through a Family Law Case – Start to Finish (4 credits) (Summer 2018)
For more information about the courses or to apply one-line, please click the links below.