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The University of Michigan Law School

Lance J. Johnson Children and the Law Workshop

In 2007, Lance J. Johnson, '65, provided a gift to the Law School to support a biennial workshop to explore a current topic related to the jurisprudence of children and the law.  The jurisprudence regarding children, particularly of children in families, is under-developed and under-theorized. Johnson's vision is that focused scholarship and teaching could advance the entire field of children and the law with an objective, well-balanced, and interdisciplinary perspective that would benefit most children most of the time. The University of Michigan Law School is well situated to meet this challenge.

The field of children's rights is under-theorized. The theories that are being developed are not sufficiently connected to the real world of politics and policy reform. The ongoing Children and the Law Workshop draws on emerging legal theory, the work of practical lawyers and policymakers to educate ourselves, our students, and others to be informed and insightful child advocates and policymakers. This exploration and dissemination of our results broadly will bring a renewed focus and stronger underpinnings to the jurisprudence regarding children and families.

The workshop is publicized throughout the campus, has an interdisciplinary emphasis, and generally includes faculty from other departments and discliplines. A particular theme is highlighted each semester, chosen for current importance, relevance, and "ripeness" for major policy reform in the near future. The goal is for the students to come to the "cutting edge" of a current issue, learn what is available on that topic, and leave a legacy; that is, make an original contribution to the topic that has the potential of adding significantly to the national debate.

Students and faculty study each subject from theory to policy to practice as they hear from a diverse array of speakers. The talks are open to the entire university. Each workshop develops position papers including analyses and recommendations.  Position papers and other materials are posted on this website as they are developed.


The Children and the Law Workshop will be interdisciplinary and invites students and faculty from a range of disciplines including law, medicine, psychology, and psychiatry.


Both law students and non-law graduate students register for the workshop as a seminar and receive credit for their participation in it. Collaborative and interdisciplinary experiences are encouraged. Law students and non-law students interested in enrolling in the Children and the Law Workshop should contact Alicia Lixey at