Family Law Practice

Family Law focuses on all matters related to traditional and non-traditional familial relations, including marriage, divorce, adoption, parental rights, custody and issues of child neglect or abuse. It is a complex, yet rewarding area in which lawyers help ordinary people resolve legal issues that are often emotionally charged and deeply personal.

Attorneys practicing Family Law require knowledge of a wide range of legal skills, including litigation; alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, mediation, negotiation); client interviewing and counseling; and writing and drafting agreements.

Villanova Law offers numerous critical skills courses relevant to the practice of Family Law, covering areas such as transactional legal writing, alternative dispute resolution and litigation. Most notable is our rigorous Duane Morris LLP Legal Writing Program, which offers upper-level transactional writing courses that train students to draft the agreements frequently encountered in practice. Our strong professional skills program prepares graduates to effectively interview and counsel clients, negotiate on their behalf and represent them in court. Those interested in Family Law are also encouraged to enroll in the Civil Justice Clinic, in which students represent low-income clients in a range of civil disputes under the supervision of a full-time faculty member. Clinic students regularly represent parents and other parties in custody matters, support, paternity and other related legal issues.

Students interested in this area may also pursue an externship in the field. A hallmark of Villanova’s educational experience, our externship program offers placements in a variety of practice settings, including corporate, government, and nonprofit (see below for a list of recent placements). Externships are supervised by both an on-site field instructor and a full-time faculty member who works closely with each student to monitor progress and to ensure overall professional development.

The below list highlights Villanova Law courses that are fundamentally associated with this practice area.

Of the courses listed below, the foundational doctrinal courses—Civil Procedure, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, Constitutional Law and Torts—and an upper level Legal Writing (Transactional or Litigation) are required. The remaining courses are helpful but not required for those interested in the field.

  • Contracts
  • Decedents’ Estates and Trusts
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Elder Law
  • Family Law
  • Negotiation and Mediation Advocacy
  • Property
  • Wealth Planning
  • Wealth Tax

The below list highlights Villanova Law courses that are related, but not necessarily essential to this practice area. Students interested in this field may consider enrolling in these courses to supplement their studies. 

  • Accounting for Lawyers
  • Bankruptcy
  • Contract Drafting
  • Interviewing/Counseling
  • Introduction to Federal Taxation


  • Civil Justice Clinic
  • The Bardsley Group (mediation)
  • Philadelphia Defender Association—Child Advocacy Unit
  • Education Law Center
  • Juvenile Law Center
  • Montgomery County Juvenile Justice
Clinic Students Meeting