Shani M. King

Co-Director Center on Children and Families



Mailing Address:
Box #117625 Gainesville, FL 32611



Fax: 352-392-3005


M. St., University of Oxford J.D., Harvard Law School B.A., Brown University

Teaching and Scholarship

International human rights, children’s rights and family law; the role of children’s counsel in various contexts; family autonomy in traditionally underserved populations; immigration law and legal ethics.

Professional Activities

  • University of Florida: Joined College of Law in 2007 as Assistant Professor; Promoted to Associate Professor in 2010; Tenured and promoted to Professor of Law in 2013.
  • Prior Academic Experience: University of California Boalt Hall School of Law, Guest Lecturer, School Discipline Clinic, (March 2006), University of San Francisco School of Law, Guest Lecturer, Child Advocacy Clinic (April 2006).
  • Prior Professional Experience: Legal Services for Children, Inc. (San Francisco, Calif.) (2004-2007); Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Silberberg (New York, N.Y.) (2003-2004), Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (New York, NY (2000-2003)

Bar Admissions

California, New York, U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.


Shani M. King is Professor of Law and Co-Director of the law school’s Center on Children and Families. He received a B.A. from Brown University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an Mst. in International Human Rights Law from Oxford University. Following law school, he was a Harvard Sheldon Knox Traveling Fellow with EDUCA, a not-for-profit organization in the Dominican Republic that was conducting an analysis of a major educational reform effort. Afterward, Professor King practiced securities litigation and white-collar criminal defense at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson and Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Silberberg in New York City. Just prior to joining the faculty at the College of Law, Professor King practiced at Legal Services for Children, Inc. in San Francisco, California, where he litigated cases under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and represented children in immigration, dependency, guardianship, and school discipline proceedings.

Professor King has been active in local, regional and national child welfare and juvenile reform, serving on the board of the Youth Law Center and the Florida Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Children, and on the advisory board of Florida Children’s First. Professor King teaches and writes in the area of children’s rights and family law, with a particular interest the role of child’s counsel in various contexts, and more generally in the rights of children and families, especially those from traditionally underserved populations and the public responsibility to protect those rights. His past and forthcoming publications appear in the North Carolina Law Review, the Ohio State Law Journal, the Harvard Journal on Legislation, the Harvard Human Rights Journal, the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, the Michigan Journal of International Law, the Family Law Quarterly, the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, and the Clearinghouse Review Journal of Poverty Law and Policy.

Professor King is currently working on a number of projects. In one, Professor King is exploring the rise of mass incarceration and its effects on individuals, families and communities; he is specifically exploring the Baby Elmo Program, a cost-effective sustainable parent instruction and child visitation intervention created for use with incarcerated teen parents. In another, Professor King is working on a project involving the history of legislation that applies to child migrants. Professor King is also exploring the place of family background in the Supreme Court confirmation process. Lastly, Professor King involved in a larger book project that explores how family law’s failure to account for the legal, social and economic realities of families undermines the ability of families to maintain autonomy over important family decisions. This book project explores the extent to which legal protections for families vary with race, physical and mental ability and mental health, socioeconomic status, immigration status, gender, and sexual orientation.

Child, Parent & State (3 credits) - LAW 6714

  • This course prepares students who aspire to practice child advocacy, those who will periodically confront child advocacy issues in their general practices, and those who otherwise seek to improve children’s welfare. This course covers doctrine, policy and practical issues in the context of children’s rights. Three key themes in this course are (1) the interrelationship of rights and responsibilities among the child, parents and government, (2) perceptions of children’s competence as a basis for governmental regulation, and (3) the role of the child’s lawyer.

International Children’s Rights (2 credits) -LAW 6936

  • This course is about international children’s rights. The course explores the concept of childhood itself, what human rights violations children face today and the role that gender plays in determining the life chances of children. This course also considers child migration, more specifically, child trafficking, child labour, child sex trafficking and also considers children in armed conflict. In addition this course considers the movement of children for family reasons, and more specifically, transnational adoption, children who have lost their parents due to AIDS, child refugees and asylum seekers.

Perspectives in Family Law (4 credits) -LAW 6711

  • This course examines legal and theoretical approaches to defining and regulating the family. The course considers the state's current role, and its ideal role, in regulating the creation and dissolution of family relationships and in setting family members' rights and responsibilities. Topics include marriage, divorce and spousal support, child custody and support, adoption and reproductive technologies. While the course covers current doctrine, it is also theoretical and normative: it examines the justifications for current law and asks how theory might motivate alternative approaches to reform.

Professional Responsibility & the Legal Profession (3 credits) - LAW 6750

  • This course takes a comprehensive look at the organization, operation and ideology of the legal profession. This course seeks to convince students that in the practice of law they will often be asked to make difficult ethical decisions. Students will be encouraged to identify and critically examine the theoretical justifications for various alternative approaches to ethical problems that they are likely to encounter in practice, as well as to understand the practical ramifications of particular actions.

“Lessons from the Baby Elmo Project: Fostering the Relationships Between Incarcerated Teen Parents and Their Young Children.” (North Carolina Law Review) (forthcoming 2014) (invited) (with Jennifer Woolard and Rachel Barr)

The Hague Convention and Domestic Violence: Proposals for Balancing the Policies of Discouraging Child Abduction and Protecting Children from Domestic Violence.” (38 Family Law Quarterly 299) (2013) (solicited) [SSRN]

Alone and Unrepresented: A Call to Congress to Provide Counsel for Unaccompanied Minors.” (50 Harvard Journal on Legislation 331 ) (2013) [SSRN]

Owning Laura Silsby’s Shame: How The Haitian Child Trafficking Scheme Embodies The Western Disregard for the Integrity of Poor Families.” (25 Harvard Human Rights Journal 1) (2012) (Lead Article) [SSRN]

The Family Law Canon in a (Post?) Racial Era.” (72 Ohio State Law Journal 575) (2011) [SSRN]

US Immigration Law and the Traditional Nuclear Conception of Family: Toward a Functional Definition of Family That Protects Children’s Fundamental Human Rights.” (41 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 509) (2010) [SSRN]

Challenging MonoHumanism: An Argument for Changing the Way We Think About Intercountry Adoption.” (30 Mich. J. Int’l L. 413) (2009) [SSRN]

Race, Identity and Professional Responsibility: Why Legal Services Organizations Need African American Staff Attorneys.” (18 Cornell J. L. & Pub. Pol. 1) (Lead Article) (2008) [SSRN]

School Discipline 101: An Overview of Students’ Due Process Rights in Expulsion Hearings.” Clearinghouse Review J. of Poverty Law and Policy 370 (September-October 2006) (co-authored with Melissa Frydman) [SSRN]

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