Cynthia Godsoe

Assistant Professor of Law

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 780-0681 |  Email  | CV
Areas of Expertise

Family Law
Professional Ethics
Public Interest Law
Juvenile Justice

A.B., Harvard University
J.D., Harvard Law School

Children and the Law

This course explores the legal relationships among children, family and the state and considers how our society defines and constructs childhood. Specific topics include children's constitutional rights, education, the legal treatment of abused and neglected children, the termination of parental rights and adoption, rules concerning the medical treatment of children, and the juvenile justice system. These subjects will be addressed from both doctrinal and public policy perspectives.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade with pass/fail option. Final exam.

Children and the Law Practicum

A select number of students enrolled in Children and the Law will be eligible to participate in a concurrent three-credit practicum. The practicum will place students in a variety of law offices dealing with different aspects of children and juvenile law, including ones focusing on juvenile justice, family law and education law. These students will work in the children's law office 12-15 hours per week. They will submit regular journals describing their work and the legal issues they confront. They will also meet on a periodic basis with Professor Godsoe to discuss their work. At the end of the semester, they will submit an 8-10 page reflective essay. Students wishing to be considered for the practicum should submit a resume, grade report, and brief statement of why they wish to participate in the practicum to Professor Godsoe. Professor Godsoe will review the applications and refer applicants to the participating law offices for an interview. The individual law offices will decide which students to accept; after acceptance the student will be enrolled administratively enrolled.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade with pass/fail option. Students are grade on their journals and essay.

Criminal Law

This course consists of an introduction to the criminal process and the role of the Constitution in reconciling the authority of government with the rights of the individual. The primary focus of the course is, however, on the substantive aspects of the criminal law. The role of the criminal law as the principal means of social control is explored, as well as the limitations on legislative power to define and punish criminal behavior. Cases and statutes are studied to develop a critical understanding of the fundamental concepts of criminal responsibility. The course includes the study of some specific crimes such as homicide and conspiracy, as well as the general principles of jurisdiction, accessorial liability, justification and the impact of mental disease, intoxication and mistake on criminal responsibility.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade only. Final exam.

Family Law

This course explores the relationship between the family and the state. Specific topics will be selected by the instructor from among the following: premarital regulation, antenuptial agreements, marriage, nontraditional families, parent-child relationships, adoption, termination of parental rights, divorce, property distribution, support, custody, and separation agreements.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade with pass/fail option. Final exam. For winter session students will have a take home exam.

Legal Profession

This three-credit course analyzes law and ethics governing the legal profession; it also examines the history, goals, and structure of the profession, expanding on what is covered in two-credit Professional Responsibility and the professional responsibility of judges. A detailed study of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct is undertaken. Taking the course satisfies the law school's professional responsibility requirement.

Enrollment Notes:

Students who have earned credit for Professional Responsibility cannot take this course.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade only. Final exam.

Public Interest Lawyering: Theory and Practice

This course will address the theory and practice of public interest work and help students to develop the writing and advocacy skills needed to conduct a public interest law practice. Students will learn about various models of public interest lawyering and ethical issues confronting lawyers in this area, as well as hear from several speakers practicing in different areas of public interest law. They will learn how to draft various documents essential to a public interest practice, both in a litigation (affidavit, motion) and a non-litigation (press release, fundraising proposal) context.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade only. Students graded on a series of writing assignments. The course may be used to satisfy the Upperclass Writing Requirement.