Jane M. Spinak

Edward Ross Aranow Clinical Professor of Law

Office: Jerome Greene Hall
Room 941
New York NY 10027
Tel: 212-854-3857
Fax: 212-854-3699
Email: spinak@law.columbia.edu

Assistant Info

Name: Michelle Ellis
Phone: 212-854-6142
Courses/Current Research
  • Child welfare policy
  • Juvenile justice
  • Child advocacy
  • Family Court reform
  • Clinical legal education
  • Legal organization management


  • New York University, J.D., 1979
  • Smith, B.A., 1974

Media Contact:

Detailed Biography:

Professor Jane M. Spinak is the Edward Ross Aranow Clinical Professor of Law. A member of the Columbia faculty since 1982, she co-founded the Child Advocacy and Family Advocacy Clinics. She currently directs the Adolescent Representation Clinic, which represents adolescents and young adults aging out of foster care. During the mid-1990s, Professor Spinak served as attorney-in-charge of the Juvenile Rights Division of The Legal Aid Society of New York City. From 2001 to 2006, she was the Director of Clinical Education at the law school. In 2002, she became the founding Chair of the Board of the Center for Family Representation (CFR), an advocacy and policy organization dedicated to ensuring the procedural and substantive rights of parents in child-welfare proceedings. She continues to serve on CFR’s board and Chairs its Leadership Council. Professor Spinak co-chaired the Task Force on Family Court in New York City created by the New York County Lawyer’s Association from 2008-2011. Professor Spinak is a member of the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children.  She has served on numerous tasks forces and committees addressing the needs and rights of children and families and has trained and lectured widely on those issues to lawyers, social workers and other mental health professionals.  She has authored books and articles for child advocates, lawyers and judges on child welfare and Family Court matters including a Permanency Planning Judicial Benchbook.  Her current research focuses on Family Court reform as discussed most recently in "Judicial Leadership in Family Court: A Cautionary Tale," The Charles H. Miller Endowed Lecture, Tennessee Journal of Law and Policy (2014).  In 2005, the ABA’s Human Rights Magazine named Professor Spinak a Human Rights Hero for her work on behalf of children. In 2008 she was awarded the Howard A. Levine Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare by the New York State Bar Association. 


30 Years of Child and Family Advocacy

Article: The Advocate, Columbia Law School Magazine