Family Law and Policy

The Family Law and Policy Program is the site for creative and innovative thinking about challenges facing the modern family. Eight cornerstones anchor the Family Law and Policy Program:

  • Annual Lecture by the Recipient of the Lifetime Achievement in Family Law
  • Better Angels Award
  • Harry Krause Emerging Family Law Scholars Workshop
  • Conversations on the Family: Bringing Together the Judiciary, Practicing Bar, and Family Law Scholars
  • Conversations with the Author
  • A Lens Into Family Law Practice: Conversations with Members of the Practicing Bar
  • International Family Law Scholar in Residence
  • Partnerships to Explore Pressing Issues in Family Law

LEARN MORE at familylawprogram.com.

Directors

Robin Fretwell Wilson – Director, Institute of Government and Public Affairs and Mildred Van Voorhis Jones Chair in Law
Janice Farrell Pea – Lecturer in Law

Affiliated Faculty

Yulanda Curtis – Assistant Clinical Professor, Veterans Legal Clinic Director
Stephanie Davidson – Associate Director for Faculty and Student Outreach, Law Library
Margareth Etienne – Associate Dean for Graduate and International Programs, Nancy Snowden Research Scholar in Law
Melissa Frydman – Director of Clinical Education, Clinical Professor of Law, Family Advocacy Clinic Director
Richard L. Kaplan – Guy Raymond Jones Chair in Law
Robin B. Kar – Professor of Law and Philosophy
Jay Kesan – Professor of Law
Colleen Murphy – Professor of Law, Philosophy, and Political Science and Director, Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program
Lesley Wexler – Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor of Law
Phyllis Baker – Director of Academic Affairs, Discovery Partners Institute 
Jennifer Hardesty – Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Brian Ogolsky – Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Ruby Mendenhall – Associate Professor in Sociology, African American Studies, Urban and Regional Planning, and Social Work

Advisory Board

Jay P. Dahlin – Partner, Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP
Robert E. Jacobson – Partner, Flynn, Palmer, Tague & Jacobson
Stephanie Tang – Attorney, Kogut & Wilson, LLC
The Honorable Debra B. Walker – Cook County Circuit Court
Michael Strauss – Partner, Schlesinger & Strauss, LLC
Brian Blitz – Principal, Berger Schatz;
The Honorable Arnold F. Blockman – Adjunct Professor of Family Law, University of Illinois College of Law

Program Hosted Events

Annual Lecture by the Recipient of the Lifetime Achievement in Family Law

This annual lecture is delivered by the recipient of the Family Law and Policy Program’s Lifetime Achievement in Family Law Award. This award recognizes great scholarly contributions to our understanding of the family and family law by individuals who have made a felt impact on the contours of the law and honors scholars who have shaped family law through their writing, advocacy, or public service, as well as mentoring of younger colleagues in the field.

Professor Robin Wilson presents Naomi Cahn with the 2017 Lifetime Achievement in Family Law Award.

Lifetime Achievement in Family Law Award recipients:

  • 2019: Baroness Ruth Deech, MP, House of Lords. Her lecture “Brexit: The Implications for Human Welfare” was delivered on September 16, 2019. 
  • 2017: Naomi Cahn, Harold H. Greene Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School. Her lecture “The New ART of Family: Developments in the Law of Assisted Reproductive Technologies,” occurred on September 14, 2017.
  • 2016: John Witte Jr., Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law, McDonald Distinguished Professor, and Director, Center for the Study of Law & Religion at Emory University School of Law. His lecture is “Why No Polygamy” on Constitution Day, September 16, 2016. Award announcement.
  • 2015: Harry Krause, Max L. Rowe Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois College of Law, and William Eskridge, John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School, received the Inaugural Awards for Lifetime Achievement in Family Law. Professor Eskridge delivered the lecture “Latter-Day Constitutionalism” on September 10, 2015.

Better Angels Award

On March 14, 2018 Judge Jane Waller was honored as the second recipient of the Better Angels Award for her commitment and service to families.

On October 18, 2016 the Family Law & Policy Program and Family Law Society presented Judge Arnold Blockman with the inaugural Better Angels Award for his steadfast compassion for the family.

Harry Krause Emerging Family Law Scholars Workshop

Named for Professor Harry D. Krause, who joined the University of Illinois law faculty in 1963 as an assistant professor and rose to become the Max. L Rowe Professor of Law, this annual workshop is designed to assist and mentor emerging scholars in family law and related fields – such as reproductive rights, biomedical ethics, law and aging, children and the law, law and gender, and law and sexuality – to hone draft papers and works in progress for submission to journals for publication. The workshop provides not only a mechanism for senior scholars to mentor emerging scholars, but also is an opportunity for emerging scholars writing in these fields to connect with one another.

  • June, 2019 – Chicago, Illinois, featuring the following scholars:
    • Colleen Campbell, J.D., a PhD candidate in Sociology and African American Studies at Princeton University;
    • Dr. Elise Goossens, a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Research Foundation – Flanders at the KU Leuven;
    • Dr. Anthony Michael Kreis, Professor, Chicago-Kent School of Law; and
    • Dr. Jordan Blair Woods, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Arkansas School of Law
  • Faculty for this year’s workshop included: 
    • Robin Fretwell Wilson;
    • Margaret Brining, Fritz Duda Family Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School;
    • Marsha Garrison, Suzanne J. and Norman Miles Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School;
    • June Carbonne, Robina Chair in Law, Science and Technology, University of Minnesota Law School; and
    • Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, Director, Ruth and Emanuel Rackman International Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women and Professor of Law, Bar-Ilan University College of Law.

Conversations on the Family: Bringing Together the Judiciary, Practicing Bar, and Family Law Scholars

This annual series is designed to explore how family law can improve the lives of adults and children, better connect parents to children, and better serve society.

  • Ruby Mendenhall, “The Hidden America: Health Effects of Structural Inequality and Gun Violence (Apr. 5, 2018); and
  • Xia (Lisa) Li, Professor, East China University, “China’s Two Child Policy” (Sept. 5, 2018)
  • 2015 Inaugural Series: “When Economic Struggles Constrain Family Choices” (November 13, 2015)
  • In fall 2014, the Family Law and Policy Program hosted Professor Montserrat Gas, Directora Institut d’Estudis Superiors de la Familia, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, who explored the footprints of canon law in American family law.

Conversations on Family Policy

  • 2015 Inaugural Lecture: Paul A. Offit, MD – Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine” (April 6, 2015)
  • Jonathan Rauch, Senior Fellow of Governance Studies, Brookings Institute, “Gay Rights, Nondiscrimination, and Religious Liberty: Can We Avoid a Train Wreck?” (Oct. 18, 2016);
  • Michelle Oberman, Katharine and George Alexander Professor of Law, Santa Clara University (Apr. 12, 2018); and
  • Baroness Ruth Deech, House of Lords, “Brexit: Implications for Human Welfare” (Sept. 16, 2019)

A Lens Into Family Law Practice: Conversations with Members of the Practicing Bar

  • Lunch with Michael Strauss ’04, Partner at Schlesinger & Strauss, LLC (February 24, 2017) – sponsored by the Family Law and Policy Program, the Office of Career Planning and Professional Development, and the Family Law Society.

International Family Law Scholar in Residence

To offer a comparative perspective on challenges facing the family and family law, the Program will annually host an international family law scholar in residence.

  • Montserrat Gas-Aixendri, Director of the Institute of Advanced Family Studies and Chair, IsFamily Santander, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (2014);
  • Federica Giardini, Professor, Scuola di Giurisprudenza, Universita delgi Studi di Padova (2015); and
  • Professor Xia Li, Professor, East China University and a standing director of China Society of Marriage and Family Law (2018)

Partnerships to Explore Pressing Issues in Family Law

In addition to these annual programs, the Family Law and Policy program will partner with other programs, colleges and units at the University Illinois, and outside groups to enrich the discussion of pressing issues in family law. Together with the Family Law Society, the program will periodically host the Breakfast and Learn series.

New Perspectives on Health Policy: Annual Symposium

The New Perspectives on Health Policy Annual Conferences explore pressing issues in health policy, with the goal of making enduring, tangible contributions to our understanding of health care law and policy.

  • The 2017 New Perspectives on Health Policy Symposium, organized in conjunction with the Carle health system, will address The Medicalization of Poverty. It is well documented that a number of diseases are strongly linked to poverty, and poverty is a strong predictor of health status. But a second aspect of poverty is less well-explored—that we have medicalized poverty. We spend inordinate amounts of money and other resources to address healthcare needs brought on by poverty instead of providing for the tangible needs of the poor before illness strikes. We treat the symptom, not the problem. This gathering is to consider “How can we do better, and what role can law and policy play?” The Symposium will bring together experts on the connection between poverty, disease burden, and healthcare expenditures to explore creative approaches for improving the life chances of the most disadvantaged among us. The healthcare system itself may have a transformative role to play.

    The symposium is jointly provided and co-sponsored by the Carle health system, the Epstein Health Law and Policy Program at the University of Illinois College of Law, the University of Virginia Department of Public Health Sciences, the University of Virginia School of Medicine Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, and MedAxiom.

    Featured presenters include:

    • James J. Heckman, the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and a Nobel Memorial Prize winner in economics, will present the keynote address on November 2.
    • Governor Tommy Thompson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services and Governor of Wisconsin, will deliver the keynote address on November 3.
    • Professor Mark Hall, Director of Health Law and Policy Program, the Wake Forest School of Law
    • Ruth Gaare Bernheim, Chair, Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Virginia and Co-Director of The Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life
    • Professor Richard L. Kaplan, the Guy Raymond Jones Chair in Law at the University of Illinois and a leading expert in elder law
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    • Professor Dayna Matthew, William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law, F. Palmer Weber Research Professor of Civil Liberties and Human Rights, University of Virginia, a well-respected voice in public heath
    • Professor Mary Crossley, a leading disability scholar and former dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law
    • Professor Elizabeth Weeks Leonard, the J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law
    • Professor William M. Sage, James R. Dougherty Chair for Faculty Excellence at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law
    • Professor David Orentlicher, Cobeaga Law Firm Professor of Law, UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law, and Co-Director of the UNLV Health Law Program
    • Professor Ruby Mendenhall of the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois
    • Professor David A. Hyman, Georgetown University School of Law
    • Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson, Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law, Director of Epstein Health Law and Policy Program, University of Illinois College of Law
    • Professor Daniel Becker, Tussi and John Kluge Professor of Palliative Medicine and Director, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, University of Virginia School of Medicine
    • Professor Monica Uddin, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois
    • Professor Lois Shepherd, Peter A. Wallenborn, Jr. and Dolly F. Wallenborn Professor of Biomedical Ethics, Professor of Health Sciences, Professor of Law, University of Virginia
    • Larry Sobal, Executive Vice President and Senior Consultant for MedAxiom
    • Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD MPH, State Health Commissioner, Virginia Department of Health
    • Professor Madhu Viswanathan, PhD, Diane and Steven N. Miller Professor in Business at the University of Illinois
    • Professor Abbe R. Gluck, Professor of Law, Director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy, Yale School of Law
    • Katherine L. Kraschel, Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law, Research Scholar, and Executive Director of the Solomon Center, Yale Law School
    • Professor Michelle Oberman, Katharine and George Alexander Professor of Law, Santa Clara University School of Law
    • Catrina Miksis, 2016 Equal Justice Works Fellow, 2016 graduate of the College of Law
    • Craig J. Konnoth, Associate Professor of Law, University of Colorado Boulder Law School
    • Carolyn Pointer, JD, Policy Director, Office of Population Science and Policy, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
    • David Steward, MD, MPH, Vice Chair for Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement, Department of Internal Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
    • Arden Caffrey, Policy Intern, Office of Population Science and Policy, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
    • Govind Persad, JD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University and Department of Health Policy & Management, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health
    • Brendan Saloner, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University

Tolerance Means Dialogues

  • Religion and Gay Marriage: Do They Have to Be at Odds? A dialogue between William Eskridge, Jr. (Yale Law School) and Robin Fretwell Wilson (University of Illinois College of Law), March 16, 2017 at University of Pittsburgh School of Law
  • Religion and Child Welfare: Do They Have to Be at Odds? A dialogue between Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, Shaakirrah Sanders (University of Idaho College of Law), and Robin Fretwell Wilson (University of Illinois College of Law), April 4, 2017 at Idaho State Capitol Building

Additional information on upcoming and past Tolerance Means Dialogues is available at tolerancemeans.com