Family Law Certificate Program

"Educating, Serving and Advocating at Howard and in our Communities"

Howard University School of Law (HUSL) offers a Family Law Certificate (Certificate) for interested and 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 program that 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.

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.

October 20, 2016 Event for the FLCP students and guests.





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 or summer placement in an Internship or Externship that features Family Law work;

Complete at least fifteen hours of Community Service related to families and/or communities ; and,

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, and 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 HUSL’s Legal Writing III requirements) on a Family Law topic. Candidates may write their paper on a traditional family law topic, but are also 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. 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. 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 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:
Child Welfare/Family Justice Clinic 8
Criminal Justice Clinic 6
Family Law Practice 3
National Moot Court (only if a Family Law topic or case file is used) 2
Externship (only if a Family Law topic or case file is used) 3
5. Other Approved Courses:
Alternative Dispute Resolution 3
Creditors’ and Debtors’ 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 that 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 Dean of Academic Affairs and the Director for the Certificate Program.


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 communities. Service in the legal field is preferred but not required.

For these purposes, documented community service will be construed broadly. 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 should meet with the Faculty Advisor at least once as early as possible during the semester that precedes their intended semester of graduation. The following items must accompany the Certificate Application:

  1. A Certificate program checklist (found on TWEN);
  2. A certified transcript;
  3. The Legal Writing III paper that satisfies HUSL and Certificate Program requirements;
  4. A Completed Externship/Internship Report Form that is signed by the supervising judge or attorney;
  5. A Community Service Report Form that is signed by the supervisor; and,
  6. A Certificate Program Exit Survey.

Preliminary approval 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.


Proficiency examinations are not required for this Certificate Program.


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


  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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, NW
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.