Professor Josh Gupta-Kagan, wearing glasses, a grey jacket, and a red necktie, smiles.

Josh Gupta-Kagan

  • Clinical Professor of Law

J.D., New York University School of Law, 2004
B.A., Yale College, 2000

Areas of Specialty

Child Neglect and Abuse Law and Legal Systems
Juvenile Delinquency Law and Legal Systems

Josh Gupta-Kagan’s teaching and scholarship focus on legal issues affecting children and families, especially child neglect and abuse and juvenile justice law. He joined the Columbia Law School faculty as a clinical professor of law on July 1, 2022, and is the director and founder of the Family Defense Clinic, which represents parents and other caregivers facing allegations of child neglect or abuse.

In his research and writing, Gupta-Kagan addresses issues including the gaps and biases in child neglect and abuse law, the school-to-prison pipeline, and juvenile delinquency and child neglect and abuse case procedures. His articles have been published in the Stanford Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, Fordham Law Review, and Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, among other publications.

After graduating from law school, Gupta-Kagan clerked for Judge Marsha S. Berzon on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He then worked for six years at the Children’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., representing children and family members in D.C. Family Court and successfully led efforts for legislative reforms.

Before joining the Law School, Gupta-Kagan was a professor of law at the ​​University of South Carolina School of Law, where he directed the Juvenile Justice Clinic. He was previously a staff attorney and lecturer in law in the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, where he co-taught the Civil Justice Clinic.


  • Lead Editor, National Association of Counsel for Children, Child Welfare Law and Practice: Representing Children, Parents, and State Agencies in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases (4th Edition) (forthcoming 2022).
  • “Confronting Indeterminacy and Bias in Child Protection Law,” 33 Stan. L. & Pol’y Rev. __ (forthcoming 2022).
  • “Establishing New Permanent Family Relationships in United States and Nordic Child Protection Systems,” in Exploring Norms and Family Laws Across the Globe (Melissa L. Breger, Ed. 2022).
  • “Reimagining Schools’ Role Outside the Family Regulation System,” 11 Colum. J. of Race & L. 575 (2021), with Brianna Harvey and Christopher Church.
  • “Beyond “Children Are Different”: The Revolution in Juvenile Intake and Sentencing,” 96 Wash. L. Rev. 425 (2021).
  • “America’s Hidden Foster Care System,” 72 Stan. L. Rev. 841 (2020).
  • “Operationalizing Intake: Variations in Juvenile Court Intake Procedures and Their Implications,” 102 Children & Youth Services Rev. 91 (2019), with Amanda Fairchild and Tia Stevens Andersen (peer-reviewed publication).
  • “Reevaluating School Searches Following School-to-Prison Pipeline Reforms,” 87 Fordham L. Rev. 2013 (2019).
  • “The Intersection Between Young Adult Sentencing and Mass Incarceration,” 2018 Wisc. L. Rev. 669 (2018).
  • “Rethinking Family Court Prosecutors: Elected and Agency Prosecutors and Prosecutorial Discretion in Juvenile Delinquency and Child Protection Cases,” 85 U. of Chicago L. Rev. 743 (2018).
  • “The School-to-Prison Pipeline’s Legal Architecture: Lessons from the Spring Valley Incident and Its Aftermath,” 45 Fordham Urb. L.J. 83 (2018).
  • “The Strange Life of Stanley v. Illinois: A Case Study in Parent Representation and Law Reform,” 41 N.Y.U. Rev. of L. & Soc. Ch. 569 (2017).
  • “The Standard of Proof in the Substantiation of Child Abuse and Neglect,” 14 J. of Empirical Legal Stud. 333 (2017), with Mary Eschelbach Hansen and Nick Kahn (peer-reviewed publication).
  • “Finally Time for Realistic and Determinate Standards in Family Court,” 68 Juv. & Fam. Ct. J. 31 (2017).
  • “Child Protection Law as an Independent Variable,” 54 Fam. Ct. Rev. 398 (2016) (peer reviewed publication).
  • Stanley v. Illinois’ Untold Story”, 24 Wm. & Mary Bill of Rts. J. 773 (2016).
  • “The New Permanency,” 19 U. Cal. Davis. J. of Juv. L. & Pol’y 1 (2015).
  • “Non-Exclusive Adoption and Child Welfare,” 66 Ala. L. Rev. 715 (2015).
  • In re Sanders and the Resurrection of Stanley v. Illinois,” 5 Cal. L. Rev. Circuit 383 (2014).
  • “The Standard of Proof at Adjudication of Abuse or Neglect: Its Influence on Case Outcomes at Key Junctures,” 17 Soc. Work. & Soc. Sci. Rev. 22 (2014), with Mary Eschelbach Hansen and Ashley Provencher (peer reviewed publication).
  • “Towards a Public Health Legal Structure for Child Welfare,” 92 Neb. L. Rev. 897 (2014).
  • “Where the Judiciary Prosecutes in Front of Itself: Missouri’s Unconstitutional Juvenile Court Structure,” 78 Mo. L. Rev. 1245 (2013).
  • “Beyond Law Enforcement: Camreta v. Greene, Child Protection Investigations, and the Need to Reform the Fourth Amendment Special Needs Doctrine,” 87 Tulane L. Rev. 353 (2012).
  • “Filling the Due Process Donut Hole: Abuse and Neglect Cases Between Disposition and Permanency,” 10 Conn. Pub. Int. L.J. 13 (2011).
  • “Children, Kin and Court: Designing Third Party Custody Policy to Protect Children, Third Parties and Parents,” 12 N.Y.U. J. of Leg. & Pub. Pol’y 43 (2009).
  • “Raising the Cut Off:  The Empirical Case for Extending Adoption and Guardianship Subsidies from Age 18 to 21,” 13 U. Cal. Davis. J. of Juv. L. & Pol’y 1 (2009), with Mary Eschelbach Hansen.
  • “Reappraising T.L.O.'s Special Needs Doctrine in an Era of School-Law Enforcement Entanglement,” 33 J. of L. & Educ. 291 (2004).
  • “A Civics Action: Interpreting State Constitutions' Education Clauses,” 78 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 2241 (2003).
  • “Empowerment and Education: Expert-Advocates, Civil Rights and Parent Politics in Head Start, 1964-1980,” 104 Teachers College Record 516 (2002).

News and Press

Honors and Awards

Outstanding Faculty Publication (Article) Award for “America’s Hidden Foster Care System,” University of South Carolina School of Law


Outstanding Faculty Publication (Article) Award for “The Strange Life of Stanley v. Illinois: A Case Study in Parent Representation and Law Reform,” University of South Carolina School of Law


Robert D. Spencer Volunteer Award, Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities of South Carolina


Professional Activities

  • American Law Institute Adviser; Restatement of the Law, Children and the Law; 2021–present.
  • Co-Reporter, South Carolina Senate Select Committee on Raise the Age, 2019–2020.
  • Member, National Association of Counsel for Children Amicus Curiae Committee, August 2012–present.

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