Melanie B. Jacobs

Melanie B. Jacobs
[Hi-Res Photo]
Professor of Law
Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 437
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

  • Biography

    Professor Jacobs joined the Michigan State University College of Law faculty in 2002 and served as MSU Law’s interim dean from January 2020 to June 2021.

    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. Professor 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. Professor 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).

    Professor Jacobs teaches courses in Child, Family & the State, Trusts & Estates, and a seminar in Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the Law. She was the 2018 recipient of the Donald F. Campbell Outstanding Teaching Award and was awarded an MSU Lilly Teaching Fellowship in 2006-2007 in recognition of her teaching. Previous to MSU, Professor 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.

    In 2016-2017, Professor Jacobs was a participant in the Big Ten Academic Alliance Academic Leadership Fellows Program. She served as the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, from 2018-2019 managing a broad academic and administrative portfolio. She serves on numerous advisory committees at MSU and is the former Chair of the Association of American Law Schools’ Family & Juvenile Law Section.

    Professor 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.

  • Degrees

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

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Courses

    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.

    (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.

  • Bar Admission(s)


  • Publications

    Law Faculty Repository »

    SSRN Author Page »

    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)).