Howard University

Family Law Certificate Program

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The Howard University School of Law (HUSL) offers a Family Law Certificate (Certificate) to qualified students.


The Family Law Certificate is offered to HUSL students to assist them in developing an expertise in Family Law through a rigorous academic programthat includes studying a broad panoply of Family Law issues, enhancing their legal research and writing skills by in-depth research and analysis of a contemporary Family Law problem, and empowering families through pro bono legal and community services.

Additional academic reinforcement is offered through trainings offered by the Family Law sections of the local bar associations, local Family Court judges, Family Law attorneys, and other trainers.

Experiential learning is emphasized in skills courses, internships and externships. The Family Law Certificate that successful candidates will receive acknowledges the legal education, work experience, community service and law school activities that candidates have engaged in during their tenure at HUSL and confirms their demonstrated interest in the specialty of Family Law.


As explained in the following sections in greater detail, to obtain a Certificate, each candidate must:

Be an active and current member of the Howard Family Law Society (HFLS) (have paid membership dues unless a hardship waiver has been granted);
Be a graduating third-year student;
Complete at least 21 credits of approved courses including the Family Law survey course;

Complete a Legal Writing III paper on a Family Law issue;

Complete at least one semester of an Internship or Externship that features Family Law work;

Complete at least fifteen hours of Community Service for families or individual family members;


Complete all other Howard University School of Law requirements for the Juris Doctor degree.


To enroll in the Certificate Program, a candidate must:

  • Be a student at HUSL in good academic standing;

  • Be an active and current member of the HFLS unless a hardship waiver has been granted;

  • Complete the Certificate Program Enrollment Form and submit it to the Director; and,

  • Meet with the Director to review Certificate Program requirements. After the Director advises interested students about qualifications and eligibility requirements, the student solely is responsible for ensuring that he or she has complied with all Certificate Program requirements in a timely manner.

  • All forms mentioned in this description are posted on the TWEN site for the Certificate Program. All enrolled candidates should register for the TWEN site to receive up-to-date information about program events, Family Law trainings, and paid and unpaid employment opportunities.


A. General Curricular Requirements

Each Certificate candidate must satisfy all of the following requirements:

  • Complete at least twenty-one (21) credit hours of approved Family Law and related courses (courses in which a significant amount of class time is devoted to discussion of family law issues). This is a minimum credit requirement. To demonstrate a genuine interest in Family Law and to receive a thorough indoctrination in this subject area, candidates are urged to enroll in as many Family Law courses as possible. In addition, for bar preparation, candidates strongly are advised to select as many bar courses from the list of approved courses as possible.

  • Complete at least one approved seminar that requires writing a substantive paper (one that satisfies HUSLís Legal Writing III requirements) on a Family Law topic. Most approved seminars are listed in Section B. However, candidates are encouraged to write interdisciplinary papers on Family Law issues that may arise in a variety of disciplines including, but not limited to, Criminal Law, Health Law, International Human Rights Law, Intellectual Property Law, Products Liability Law, and Social Media and the Law. Candidates may use the Family Law article that they write for a law review or law journal at HUSL to satisfy this Certificate requirement.

  • Complete a legal internship or externship to gain practical experience in Family Law and for resume enhancement. Usually, completing the Family Law course is a prerequisite for this requirement. A qualified externship or internship will last for at least one semester during an academic term or at least eight weeks during the summer and involve substantial assignments in Family Law. Externships and internships must comply with all other requirements set forth in the HUSL Student Affairs Guide. Candidates strongly are encouraged to complete an internship or externship with a family court judge, magistrate or family master. Suggested externship and internship opportunities will be available to candidates. For Certificate Program purposes, a candidate is not required to receive course credit for the externship or internship.

B. Approved Courses
The following list of approved courses is not exhaustive. It contains Family Law and approved related courses that are offered on a regular basis. The list of courses will evolve as new courses are offered at HUSL, faculty and administrative changes occur, and student needs change.

1. Required Course for the Program: Credit Hours
Family Law (a bar course) 3
2. Additional Approved Bar Courses:
Agency, Partnership and Unincorporated Business Associations 3
Constitutional Law II 3
Corporations 3
Estate and Gift Taxation 3
Federal Income Taxation 3
Real Property 3
Wills, Trusts, and Estates 4
3. Approved Seminar Courses:
Adoption Law (a bar course) 3
Child, Parent and State 3
Domestic Violence 3
Gender and the Law 3
Genetics and the Law 3
Independent Study (for 3Ls only) 2
Law and Aging 3
4. Approved Skills Courses:
( Approved only when a family law problem or case file is used)
Child Welfare/Family Justice Clinic 8
Criminal Justice Clinic 6
(partial credit awarded)
Family Law Practice 3
National Moot Court 2
Externship 3
5. Other Approved Courses:
Alternative Dispute Resolution 3
Creditorsí and Debtorsí Rights and Remedies 3
Education Law 3
Estate Planning 3
Health Law 3
Immigration Law 3
International Human Rights 3
Select Mini Courses 1
6. Additional Course Offerings:
The Certificate Program is self-contained. Ample electives which candidates may select for completion of Certificate requirements within a three-year period are offered. As the HUSL curriculum develops, additional courses may be approved for satisfaction of Certificate requirements. Any additional courses or consortium courses (those offered at pre-approved law schools) must be pre-approved by the Associate Deans of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs and the Director for the Certificate Program. When new courses are offered, they will be announced before and during the appropriate registration process.


Candidates must complete a total of fifteen (15) hours of community service during their three years of study at HUSL. Candidates may choose any community service project that supports families or individual family members. Service in the legal field, such as participation in the Alternative Spring Break program, is preferred but not required. For these purposes, documented community service will be construed broadly.

For example, a candidate may volunteer at a soup kitchen that serves families, tutor children at elementary or high schools or organize a toy drive for children. This service may be performed in the Washington metropolitan area or anywhere in the United States or in an approved study abroad program.


Candidates must submit the Family Law Certificate Program Application to the Director to report that they have fulfilled all Certificate Program requirements and that they seek formal certification of their accomplishments. To ensure that they will qualify for a Certificate upon graduation, third-year candidates must meet with the Faculty Advisor at least once (as early as possible and before the course registration period ends) during the semester that precedes their intended semester of graduation. The following items must accompany the Certificate Application:

    1. a certified transcript;
    2. the Legal Writing III paper that satisfies HUSL and Certificate Program requirements;
    3. a Completed Externship/Internship Report Form that is signed by the supervising judge or attorney;
    4. a Community Service Report Form that is signed by the supervisor; and,
    5. a Certificate Program Exit Survey. If a candidate wishes to maintain anonymity for submission of the survey only, the survey may be submitted to the Assistant to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.

PRELIMINARY APPROVAL OF A CERTIFICATE APPLICATION will be made when the candidate submits the completed packet of graduation documents to the Director by the posted deadline. The Director will review the documents and preliminarily certify the candidate for a Certificate. However, final approval must be made by the Records Office and the HUSL Faculty.


are not required for this Certificate Program.


will be offered throughout the year. Legal and interdisciplinary projects and educational lectures will be offered on campus and off campus. Candidates are encouraged to attend as many of the programs and lectures as possible.


  • A. Enrollment in Required Courses at HUSL. Unless a candidate transfers from another law school the candidate must take all required courses at HUSL. Transfer students (students who transfer from another accredited law school to HUSL) who provide documented proof of satisfactory completion of comparable listed courses may apply for a Certificate if they meet all other Certificate qualifications. Such students are encouraged to seek advice from the Director regarding their eligibility for the Certificate as soon as possible after enrollment in a course of study at HUSL.

  • B. Identifying Approved Courses. Students who are uncertain about whether a particular course (including seminars) will be approved as a Family Law or related courses should meet with the Director prior to enrolling in the course.

  • C. Grades. The Certificate candidate must earn a grade of at least an 80 (B) in the Family Law survey course and at least a 75 (C+) in all other courses that are used to meet Certificate requirements. When the Director receives a completed application for a Certificate, the Records Office will certify that the candidate actually completed the course and met the minimum grade requirement.

  • D. Time for Completion of Requirements. Certificate requirements must be completed before the candidate is graduated from HUSL. At its regular faculty meeting for certifying that HUSL students are qualified for graduation with input from the Records Office and the Director, the HUSL faculty will certify that each Certificate candidate qualifies for a Certificate.


Mariela Olivares

Howard Family Law Certificate Program
Howard University School of Law
2900 Van Ness Street, N.W., 309 Houston Hall
Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone: (202) 806-8057

Donations may be made electronically (click on Gift Designation and Choose Family Law Certificate Program) or by mail addressed to the Director at the above address.

updated: July 9, 2015