Spinak Named Co-Chair of New Task Force on Family Court


Press Contact: Sonia von Gutfeld, 212-854-1453, [email protected]

July 8, 2008 (NEW YORK) -- Columbia Law School Professor Jane M. Spinak will co-chair the new Task Force on the Family Court that will analyze proceedings from two conferences on the Family Court and develop a reform agenda. Columbia Law School and the New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) Justice Center co-sponsored both conferences.

The Task Force, established in June by NYCLA, comprises judges, parent advocates, government officials, court personnel, academics and legal service providers. Spinak’s co-chair is the Hon. Howard Miller, Supreme Court Appellate Division, Second Department.

The Task Force will propose reforms after analyzing recommendations submitted by participants of a two-day conference in 2006 that addressed new challenges to Family Court spurred by changing economic and social conditions. The Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems published a symposium issue on the conference proceedings titled “The Family Court in the 21st Century: What Are Its Roles and Responsibilities?”

During the summer of 2007, Columbia Law School and NYCLA co-sponsored a public forum that brought together judges, legal service providers, academics and laypeople to discuss the 2006 conference recommendations and view the various proposals from both national and local perspectives.

The Task Force on the Future of the Family Court is the final phase of NYCLA’s two-year collaborative project to address needed reforms in Family Court and represents NYCLA’s mission to “promote the public interest” by seeking reforms in the law and in the administration of justice.

Spinak, the Edward Ross Arrow Clinical Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, is a renowned advocate of family law and child welfare. She co-founded and directs the Law School’s Child Advocacy Clinic, which currently represents adolescents aging out of foster care. She is a member of the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children and recently completed her term as the founding chair of the Center for Family Representation, the first legal advocacy organization in the country established to represent parents in family court proceedings.

In April Spinak received the 22nd annual Howard A. Levine Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare from the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Children and the Law.

Founded in 1908, NYCLA is celebrating its Centennial year and was the first major bar association in the country that admitted members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion or gender. Since its inception, NYCLA has pioneered some of the most far-reaching and tangible reforms in American jurisprudence and has continuously played an active role in legal developments and public policy.

Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, and criminal law.