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The Family Health Law & Policy Institute

Our legal system and its policies shape the health and welfare of families in a variety of ways. The Family Health Law & Policy Institute prepares students for a career relating to family law and policy, health law, or the dynamic intersection of the two.

About the Family Health Law & Policy Institute

Delaware Law launched the Family Health Law & Policy Institute in 2015 to influence legislation in relation to family health and welfare and to help our students gain the legal knowledge, experience, and skills to prepare for a rewarding career and improve client outcomes.

The institute offers a rich curriculum relating to these subjects, including a robust field component, where students acquire real-world experience in a variety of settings: the Veterans Law Clinic; the Medical-Legal Partnership; relevant law firm practice; clerkships with family law judges; and placements in corporations involved in such diverse areas as pharmaceuticals and insurance.

The Institute also offers academic and practitioner-focused symposia and continuing legal education programs, as well as community outreach, and encourages and supports faculty and student research.

Beyond legal education, the Institute advises organizations on related policy matters and strives to not only influence but reform this area of the law. A collaborative approach with partnering organizations helps advance our mission while assisting clients. In turn, Juris Doctor (JD) candidates become involved in real-world policy issues while gaining hands-on experience. Each step of the way, our faculty and JD candidates highlight family law issues through legal scholarship.

Experiential Learning

JD candidates who choose to specialize their degree in family health law will have opportunities to participate in clinics and complete an externship at a local hospital or school during their second and third years:

Health, Education and Legal Assistance Project: A Medical-Legal Partnership

Through the Health, Education and Legal Assistance Project: A Medical-Legal Partnership (HELP: MLP), the Family Health Law & Policy Institute collaborates with maternal and child health home visiting programs to address the social and structural determinants of health that impact families with low incomes in southeastern Pennsylvania.

HELP: MLP is one of the first medical-legal partnerships in the nation to partner with evidence-based maternal and child health home visitation programs. In 2010, HELP: MLP and its partner, The Foundation for Delaware County, was one of three national grantees to establish a medical-legal partnership within the federally funded Healthy Start program. Delaware Law students provide free civil legal services and work with collaborating public health organizations’ staff to improve clients’ overall health and wellbeing. In participating in HELP: MLP, JD candidates:

  • provide direct legal assistance to pregnant and parenting clients dealing with issues related to housing and income instability,
  • train partners and community advocates on identifying health-harming legal needs that impact families’ outcomes, and
  • engage in systemic policy advocacy to improve community-wide conditions and health outcomes.

Contact information:
Shannon Mace
HELP: MLP Executive Director
[email protected]

Delaware Civil Law Clinic

The Delaware Civil Law Clinic (DCC) allows students to gain practical experience through civic engagement in the Delaware community. Mentored by the clinic director and staff attorney, students represent survivors of domestic violence who live below the poverty line, as well as cases involving civil orders, child custody, visitation, and documentation for the elderly and terminally ill. In taking on these cases, JD candidates get practice:

  • interviewing and counseling clients;
  • overseeing legal investigations;
  • preparing documents; and
  • conducting negotiations and reaching settlements.

Learn more about the Delaware Civil Law Clinic.

Veterans Law Clinic

The first of its kind in the country, Delaware Law’s Veterans Law Clinic offers JD candidates the opportunity to provide pro bono legal representation to low-income and disabled veterans and their families. Cases involve appealing Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rulings and securing compensation for disabled veterans. To date, the clinic has recovered over $13 million in benefits.

Participating family health law students evaluate cases, gather supporting evidence, and provide representation in court to veterans or their dependents.

Learn more about the Veterans Law Clinic.


Second- and third-year JD candidates studying family health law may pursue two fellowships.

  • Domestic Violence Research and Advocacy Fellowship: For JD candidates striving to end domestic violence and interested in pro bono legal representation, this fellowship presents the opportunity to research, provide advocacy, and get involved with outreach efforts.
  • Domestic Violence Community Awareness Project: This opportunity allows family health law JD candidates to train and manage student volunteers while going into the community to educate domestic violence survivors about their legal rights.

Learn more about fellowship opportunities.

Learn More About the Family Health Law & Policy Institute

If you’re considering a career representing clients in family law cases or influencing related policy, reach out to the Institute’s Co-Directors with your questions or to request additional information today.

Contact Information

Co-Director: Professor John G. Culhane
Phone: (302)-477-2107
Email: [email protected]

Co-Director: Associate Professor Dana Harrington Conner
Phone: (302)-477-2161
Email: [email protected]

Co-Director: Professor Alicia Kelly
Phone: (302)-477-2185
Email: [email protected]