MSU College of Law

Melanie B. Jacobs

Melanie B. Jacobs
[Hi-Res Photo]
Senior Associate Dean, Admissions & International Programs and Professor of Law
Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 437
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
517-432-6944
mjacobs@law.msu.edu

Dean Jacobs joined the Michigan State University College of Law faculty in 2002. She is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in family law. Specifically, her scholarship advocates for legal recognition of non-traditional families and changes to the traditional establishment of parent-child relationships due to the increased use of assisted reproductive technologies. Dean Jacobs has argued in favor of preserving nonbiological parental relationships to foster the best interests of children as well as recognizing more than two legal parents in certain circumstances. Her work has been featured in nearly a dozen law reviews including the Buffalo Law Review, Arizona State Law Journal, and Yale Journal of Law & Feminism. Her current research and scholarship explores the link between procreative autonomy and intentional parenthood. Dean Jacobs is part of the Feminists Judgments Project in which she has submissions in both Reproductive Justice Rewritten and Family Law Rewritten (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press).

Dean Jacobs teaches courses in Child, Family & the State, Trusts & Estates, and a seminar in Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the Law. In 2006-07, Dean Jacobs was awarded an MSU Lilly Teaching Fellowship in recognition of her outstanding teaching. Previous to MSU, Dean Jacobs served as a Freedman Fellow and a lecturer in law at Temple University School of Law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her additional teaching experience includes two years as a clinical instructor for the Hale & Dorr Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School in Boston, Massachusetts and as an adjunct instructor at the Boston University School of Law.

She also serves as the Senior Associate Dean for Admissions & International Programs. In 2016-2017, Dean Jacobs was a participant in the Big Ten Academic Alliance Academic Leadership Fellows Program. She serves on numerous advisory committees at MSU and is the former Chair of the Association of American Law Schools’ Family & Juvenile Law Section.

Dean Jacobs received her A.B. from Columbia College in New York City, her J.D. from Boston University, and her LL.M. from Temple University. She is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.

LL.M. 2002, Temple University School of Law; J.D. 1994, Boston University School of Law; A.B. 1991, Columbia University

  • Assisted Reproductive Technologies Seminar
    This seminar will examine the legal, medical, and ethical issues surrounding assisted reproductive technologies.
  • Decedents' Estates and Trusts
    Effective fall 2016 name changed to Trusts and Estates. A study of the pattern of practices for transmitting wealth in view of death. The course surveys probate jurisdiction and administration; intestate succession; limitations on testamentary power; execution requirements for wills; revocation, revalidation and revival of wills; incorporation by reference; contest of wills and related remedies. Also covered are the private express trust, inter vivos and testamentary, including functions, prohibited trust purposes and requisites for creation; informal and incomplete trusts, including resulting, constructive and savings bank trusts; termination of trusts; gifts to charity, including historical backgrounds, nature of charitable purposes and cy pres; powers and duties of the fiduciary; and remedies of beneficiaries in case of breach of duty.
  • Family Law: Child, Family and the State
    (Formerly Family Law II; Child, Family and the State) This course examines a host of issues confronting today's modern families. For example, we will discuss how to define family - including marriage and parenthood - in the 21st century. Some specific topics include: defining family for distribution of "family" benefits; balancing work and family; paternity; domestic violence; child abuse and neglect; surrogacy; adoption; and artificial insemination. Students may take Family Law: Child, Family, and State and Family Law: Marriage & Divorce in any order or at the same time.
  • Law and Gender
    (Formerly DCL 386) This course will concern itself with aspects of the following: protective labor legislation, employment discrimination, sex role discrimination in the law of the family, women and the criminal law, the right of women to equal educational opportunity and the right to choose whether to bear children. A short paper will be assigned on a topic dealing with present and proposed legislation affecting the status of women. There will be a consideration of the theoretical and legal issues associated with the category of gender.
  • Problem-solving in Property
    Using a problem format, the course will review major property topics including: estates, easements, covenants, adverse possession, conveyances, recording statutes, and mortgages. The course is recommended to students who want to improve their mastery of material covered in the first-year Property course. Only graduating third year students are eligible to enroll in this course. 
  • Property
    (Formerly DCL 113) This is a survey course of the fundamentals of property law. Possessory interests of real and personal property including findings, bailments and adverse possession are discussed and analyzed. Topics also include future interests, concurrent ownership, lease holds, transfers of land and land use controls.

Massachusetts

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Law Review Articles

Commentary, In Re T.S.J. Redux, Feminist Judgments: Family Law Rewritten (Rachel Rebouche ed. Forthcoming 2019).

Johnson v. Calvert Redux, Feminist Judgments: Reproductive Justice Rewritten (Kimberly Mutcherson ed. forthcoming 2019)

Procreative Liberty For a Price: Single Mothers of Choice, (work in progress).

Parental Parity: Intentional Parenthood’s Promise, 64 Buff. L. Rev. 465 (2016)

Introduction: In Search of Equality in Family Law, 2013 Mich. St. L. Rev. 933 (2014).

Intentional Parenthood’s Influence: If Procreative Autonomy Includes the Right not to Parent, Then Should Federal Paternity Establishment Policy Be Changed?, 20 Amer. U. J. of Gender, Social Policy, & the Law 489 (2012).

Overcoming the Marital Presumption, 50 Fam. Ct. Rev. 289 (2012).

More Parents, More Money: Reflections on the Financial Implications of Multiple Parentage, 16 Cardozo Journal of Law & Gender 217 (2010).

Why Just Two? Disaggregating Traditional Parental Rights and Responsibilities to Recognize Multiple Parents, 9 Journal of Law & Family Studies 309 (2007).

Procreation through ART: Why the Adoption Process Should Not Apply, 35 Cap. U. L. Rev. 399 (2006) (symposium).

My Two Dads: Disaggregating Biological and Social Paternity, 38 Arizona State L. J. 809 (2006).

Applying Intent-Based Parentage Principles to Nonlegal Lesbian Coparents, 25 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 433 (2005) (symposium).

When Daddy Doesn’t Want to be Daddy Anymore: An Argument Against Paternity Fraud Claims, 16 Yale J. L. & Feminism 193 (2004).

Micah Has One Mommy and One Legal Stranger: Adjudicating Maternity for Nonbiological Lesbian Coparents, 50 Buff. L. Rev. 341 (2002).

Shorter Works

Letters: How Many Parents, N.Y.Times, February 2, 2010, at A23 (letter).

Letters: The Complex Parenting Network, N.Y. TIMES, Jul. 23, 2007, at A22 (letter).

Book Review, 8 B.U. Pub. Int. L.J. 579 (1999) (reviewing Timothy C. Shiell, Campus Hate Speech on Trial (1998)).