Photo of Nancy Dowd

Nancy E. Dowd

David H. Levin Chair in Family Law
Emeritus Director, Center on Children & Families



Mailing Address:
Box #117626 Gainesville, FL 32611


(352) 273-0930

(352) 392-3005

Professor Dowd's research focuses on social justice issues connected to family law, and therefore touches on not only family law but also juvenile law, constitutional law, race and gender analysis, and social change theories. She is currently engaged in research and writing about a developmental model of equality and focusing on the life course of African American boys from birth to age 18. Two of Professor Dowd's most recent books focus on the radical reform needed in the juvenile justice system. Justice for Kids (NYU Press 2011) brings together activists and scholars to articulate ways to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system, by diversion into other more helpful and supportive resolutions. A New Juvenile Justice System (NYU Press 2015) articulates the vision of a new youth justice system focused on child well being and public safety. Her other recent book is The Man Question: Male Privilege and Subordination (2010), in which she explores masculinities theories as a means to expand gender analysis and also incorportate other hierarchies that affect gender, particularly race and class.
Professor Dowd served as the Director of the Center on Children and Families until 2015, and in that role focused on issues of juvenile justice, social justice, non-traditional families, gay and lesbian rights, and collaboration with the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations on issues of race and families. While director, she was also involved with successful grants that established the Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Clinic led by Professor Teresa Drake, a groundbreaking collaboration between law and medicine to establish a cutting edge clinic. That work has exposed the importance of trauma informed scholarship and service, and feeds back into Professor Dowd's current scholarship as well.


J.D., Loyola University of Chicago School of Law (cum laude) University of Illinois M.A., University of Connecticut B.A., (with honors)

Teaching and Scholarship

Constitutional Law, Family Law, Feminist Jurisprudence, Employment Discrimination

Professional Activities

  • University of Florida: Joined College of Law as Professor, 1990; Trustee Research Fellow (1998-2000), Research Foundation Professorship (1998-2002), named Chesterfield Smith Professor 2001. Advisory Board, University Center for Excellence in Teaching (1995), University Athletic Association Board (1993-1995).
  • Visiting Faculty: Northeastern University School of Law, University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, University of Auckland.
  • Prior Legal Positions: Labor Law attorney Choate Hall & Stewart, Boston, MA. (1982-84); Summer Associate, Sidley & Austin, Chicago, Ill. (1980-81); Law Clerk for Judge Cobert Sprecher, U.S. Court of Appeals.
  • Organizations: Work and Family Subcommittee, American Association of University Professors (1999-present); Massachusetts Law Review editorial board (1989-1990); Family Policy Working Group (steering committee, co-coordinator) (1988-present); Consultant to Massachusetts Commission on Parenting Leave.

Civil Rights Seminar (3 credits) - LAW 6939

  • This seminar focuses on conceptualizing and implementing equality through past, present and potential civil rights strategies grounded in Fourteenth Amendment guarantees. It beginw with an examination of various definitions and visions of equality and concrete strategies for implementation, and then explores specific applications of equality in the areas of education, housing and families. Lines of inequality to be considered include race, gender, sexual orientation and class. The goal is to focus on concrete ways in which equality can be realized through social justice lawyering. The seminar will act like a "think tank," a strategizing session, to evaluate and test out the lessons of the past or the possible theories of the present and future, in terms of ideologies and strategies.

Constitutional Law (4 credits) - LAW 5501

  • Introduction to United States Constitutional Law. Topics include judicial enforcement of the Constitution to preserve individual liberties; judicial review; separation of powers; structure and powers of the federal government; and federalism.

Gender & The Law (3 credits) - LAW 6930

  • The goals of this class are to learn the major strands of feminist theory, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each; to understand and evaluate areas of gender inequality from an antiessentialist perspective; and to consider strategies and goals for equality, and how equality might be accomplished by litigation, legislation, or grass roots activity.

Perspectives in Family Law (4 credits) - LAW 6711

  • Covers the law of the family, including cases, statutes and constitutional precedents relating to marriage, divorce, non-traditional families, child custody, child and spousal support, adoption and reproductive technologies. Students will complete exercises in negotiation and drafting of documents in a simulated family law transaction.

Advanced Topics in Family Law Seminar (2 credits) - LAW 6936

  • The seminar will be devoted to advanced topics and cutting edge issues in family law. The seminar will permit students to pursue a particular topic in family law by conducting a significant, in-depth research project which will be presented for critique and feedback to the seminar participants. The seminar will focus initially on readings concerning contemporary issues in family law, followed by students’ research and presentations. Projects may include conventional research papers, roughly equivalent to a law review student comment or note, or may propose any equivalent project in any form with the consent of the instructor, e.g., an advocacy project, legislative proposal, etc.

Prerequisites: Family Law or equivalent

Current Books

  • Handbook on Children, Culture and Violence (edited with Dorothy Singer & Robin Fretwell Wilson, Sage, forthcoming 2006)
  • Feminist Legal Theory: An Anti-Essentialist Reader (edited with Michelle S. Jacobs, NYU Press, 2003)
  • Redefining Fatherhood (NYU Press, July 2000)
  • In Defense of Single Parent Families (NYU Press, 1997)


  • Race, Gender and Work/Family Policy, Washington University Journal of Law and Policy (forthcoming 2004)(Symposium Issue, Tenth Anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act)
    From Genes, Marriage and Money to Nurture: Redefining Fatherhood, Cardozo Women’s Law Journal (2003)
  • Diversity Matters: Race, Gender and Ethnicity in Legal Education, University of Florida Journal of Law and Public Policy (with Kenneth Nunn and Jane Pendergast); 15 U. Fla. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 11-56 (2003).
  • Book Review, Sandra Berns, Women Going Backwards: Law and Change in a Family Unfriendly Society (2002), 12 Griffith Law Review 149 (forthcoming 2003)
  • Law, Culture and Family: The Transformative Power of Culture and the Limits of Law, 78 Chicago-Kent Law Review 785 (2003)
  • Single Parent Adoption, in Families by Law: Adoption Reader (Naomi Cahn and Joan H. Hollinger eds., NYU Press 2003)
  • 2001 Annual International Survey of Family Law: United States, 16 International Journal of Law, Society and the Family 439-469 (April 2002)
  • Gender and Law, in The Oxford Companion to American Law 325-331 (Kermit L. Hall ed., Oxford University Press 2002)
  • Remarks, Panel Two: Who's Minding the Baby?, 49 American University Law Review 987 (2000)(Symposium Issue, Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It)
    Resisting Essentialism and Hierarchy: A Critique of Work/Family Policies for Women Lawyers, 16 Harvard Blackletter Law Journal 185 (2000)
  • Women's, Men's and Children's Equalities: Some Reflections and Uncertainties, 6 Southern California Review of Law and Women's Studies 587 (1997)(Symposium Issue, Taxing Women: Thoughts on a Gendered Economy)
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