This week we feature Lynn Wardle, Professor of Law at J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, co-author of Fundamental Principles of Family Law, Second Edition.
When I entered law teaching in 1978, I thought I would teach for two or three years, and then return to practicing law. But I got “hooked” on doing legal research and writing, especially about Family Law. I now have been working as a Family Law scholar for over 35 years.
Nothing in my background would have predicted that development. I was interested in international relations and political science as an undergraduate (double major), and I chose to attend Duke Law School in large part because of the strength of their offerings in international law and policy. After graduation from law school, I clerked for the Hon. John J. Sirica during the Watergate cover-up trial, and then practiced law with a general civil litigation firm in Phoenix, Arizona. In other words, I had little background in, knowledge of, or experience regarding family law.
When I began teaching, the dean said I needed to teach Family Law as a service to the law school. After only a year or two of doing so, I was hooked. The issues in Family Law were compelling. The narratives and human stories were gripping. The conflicting interests were of great importance and presented great challenges. The subject of Family Law cut across most socio-economic-educational lines. The significant implications for society and for families and individuals in society were unmatched by those in any other area of law.
Family Law continues to intrigue and inspire me as a legal scholar. It cuts across many disciplines and areas of law. The potential impact it has upon human lives is incalculable. Yet it continues to be a largely-neglected area of academic engagement in the legal world.
Perhaps it is neglected because (a) it is so ordinary – family law issues tumble into all of our lives and are part of our expected experience, (b) it is usually not extremely lucrative, and (c) cloture is seldom reached – family lawyers almost always have to do less than they ideally would like to do in family cases because their clients cannot afford to pay for the ultimate or ideal legal services. Family law issues arise when families are in crisis and conflict, and when resources are tight and strained.
Family Law provides a basis to connect with and relate to lawyers and non-lawyers working in many other areas of human activity. We all have families. We all have family stories. We all have seen and experienced family problems. We all care about members of our families, and we all must cope at times with some family members.
Law students need to be prepared to address family law questions that may arise in almost any setting or circumstance. They need to be grounded in general principles of family law, and to become familiar with the processes, systems and procedures that apply in family cases. They need to learn some basic skills of listening carefully and explaining complex legal concepts simply to non-lawyers. They need to care about their clients, and about their families — who often are unintended victims suffering from the bad decisions made by others.
My colleagues, Mark Strasser and Lynn Marie Kohm, and I wrote our casebook, Fundamental Principles of Family Law, to prepare students not merely to recognize family law issues, but to help them begin to develop the kinds of skills, other-orientation,and commitment that will prepare them to give competent service to their clients, their families, and their communities.
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Fundamental Principles of Family Law, Second Edition
Fundamental Principles of Family Law has been prepared for use by law students in the basic Family Law course taught inAmerican law schools. This casebook is designed especially for use in national and regional law schools where the students come from and expect to be practicing in many different states. This casebook emphasizes the basic general principles of substantive and procedural law that regulate family relations in most American states.
Fundamental Principles of Family Law
Item #: 59304
Published: Buffalo; William S. Hein & Co., Inc.; 2006