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Professor of LawElizabeth J. Samuels
John and Frances Angelos Law Center, Room 504

Administrative Assistant: Laurie Schnitzer
John and Frances Angelos Law Center
Room 1008


J.D., University of Chicago, 1980
A.B., cum laude, Harvard College, 1975

Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Expertise

Child and Family Law / Adoption
Constitutional Law
Supreme Court Seminar

Samuels came to the School of Law as a visiting faculty member in 1987 and joined the permanent faculty in 1989. She worked as a journalist before attending law school, where she was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and an attorney in the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. Following law school, she served as law clerk to Judge James L. Oakes, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. After clerking, she was a legal services attorney and an adjunct law professor in Alabama. She was the director of the School of Law's first-year Legal Skills Program from 1987 to 1994.

Samuels does pro bono work in the civil rights and the child and family law areas. She is a member of the Alabama Bar.

Selected Publications

Articles and Essays

Surrender and Subordination: Birth Mothers and Adoption Law Reform, 20 Mich. J. Gender & L. 33 (2013).

Adoption, Encyclopedia of Privacy (William G. Staples, ed., 2007).

Birth Certificates, Encyclopedia of Privacy (William G. Staples. ed., 2007).

Adoption Consents: Legal Incentives for Best Practices, 10 Adoption Quarterly 85 (2006).

Legal Representation of Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents, 9 Adoption Quarterly 73 (2006).

Time to Decide? The Laws Governing Mothers' Consents to the Adoption of Their Newborn Infants, 72 Tenn. L. Rev. 509 (2005).

Adoption With Contact Law Awaits Governor's Signature, The Daily Record (Baltimore, Maryland), Apr. 22, 2005, Commentary section.

Mothers' Consents to Adoptions: "Best Practices" and State Laws, conference book of the International Society of Family Law international conference, July 2005, Salt Lace City, Utah.

Book Review: Adoption in America, Edited by Wayne E. Carp, Journal of Interdisciplinary history, 35(1) (MIT Press, Summer 2004).

Stories Out of School: Teaching the Case of Brown v. Voss, 16 Cardozo L. Rev. 1445 (1995).(The subject of an extensive note in the widely used property law casebook, Jesse Dukeminier and James E. Krier, Property 839-41 (5th ed. 2002).)

How Adoption in America Grew Secret, Op-Ed, Wash. Post, Oct. 21, 2001, at B5.(Reprinted in 19 Decree 11 (Fall 2002); Adoptive Families, January/February 2002, 17; and CUB Communicator, Winter 2001/2002, 26.)

The Idea of Adoption: An Inquiry into the History of Adult Adoptee Access to Birth Records, 53 Rutgers L. Rev. 367-437 (2001).(Excerpted in Naomi Cahn and Joan Heifetz Hollinger, eds., Families By Law: An Adoption Reader (N.Y.U. Press, 2004).) (Available in full on the Web site of the American Adoption Congress,

The Strange History of Adult Adoptee Access to Original Birth Records, 5 Adoption Quarterly 63 (2001).

The Art of Line Drawing: Public Aid to Religiously Affiliated Child Care, 69 Ind. L.J. 39 (1993).

Articles on Social Science Research Network