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

Professor Jacobs joined the MSU College of Law faculty in 2002 and teaches Family Law: Child, Parent & the State; Decedents' Estates and Trusts; Property; and a seminar in Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the Law.

In October 2008, she was a guest lecturer at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. For the 2006-07 year, Professor Jacobs was awarded a Michigan State University Lilly Teaching Fellowship. During the Fall 2004 semester, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the William & Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law, where she taught Family Law and Property.

Previously, Professor Jacobs served as a Freedman Fellow and a lecturer in law at Temple University School of Law. Her additional teaching experience includes two years as a clinical instructor for the Hale & Dorr Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School and as an adjunct instructor at the Boston University School of Law. While in the Boston area, Professor Jacobs also engaged in private practice with the firm of Witmer, Karp, Warner & Thuotte and served as counsel to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division.

Professor Jacobs has written articles and given numerous national and international presentations regarding the need to establish legal recognition for nontraditional families. She has argued in favor of preserving nonbiological parental relationships to foster the best interests of children and her current research and scholarship focuses on moving beyond biological bases of parental determination and recognizing multiple parents.

Professor Jacobs received her A.B. from Columbia University in New York City and her J.D. from Boston 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.


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SSRN Author Page »

Law Review Articles

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)).