Levin College of Law

Shani M. King

University Term Professor
Professor of Law
Emeritus Director, Center on Children and Families

Mailing Address:
Box #117625 Gainesville, FL 32611

(352) 273-0951


Shani M. King is a Professor of Law and Emeritus Director of the law school’s Center on Children and Families. Prior to joining the UF Law faculty, Professor King practiced at Legal Services for Children, Inc. in San Francisco, California, where he litigated cases under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and represented children in immigration, dependency, guardianship, and school discipline proceedings. Professor King is an active writer and scholar in the area of children’s rights and family law, with a particular interest in the role of child’s counsel in various contexts, and more generally in the rights of children and families – especially those from traditionally under served populations – and the public responsibility to protect those rights.

Professor King’s wide ranging scholarship has been recognized and cited by leading scholars in the field, has been cited and relied upon by federal courts, and is also frequently relied upon by not-for-profit organizations and practitioners in the field.

Professor King received a B.A. from Brown University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an Mst. in International Human Rights Law from Oxford University. Following law school, he was a Harvard Fellow with EDUCA, a not-for-profit organization in the Dominican Republic that was conducting an analysis of a major educational reform effort. Afterward, Professor King practiced securities litigation and white-collar criminal defense at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson and Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Silberberg in New York City.

Professor King has been active in local, regional and national child welfare and juvenile reform, serving on the board of the Youth Law Center, the Florida Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Children, and on the advisory board of Florida Children’s First. He is currently on the advisory board of the Florida Health Justice Project, an organization focused on removing barriers to affordable health care in Florida, and was recently appointed by the Governor to serve on a statewide committee charged with improving parent and child representation in Florida’s dependency system.


M. St., University of Oxford
J.D., Harvard Law School
B.A., Brown University

Teaching and Scholarship

International and regional human rights, international and transnational law, and comparative law; children’s rights and family law; the role of children’s counsel in various contexts; family autonomy in traditionally underserved populations; race and race relations; immigration law and legal ethics; and cross-border litigation.

Professional Activities

  • University of Florida: Joined College of Law in 2007 as Assistant Professor; Promoted to Associate Professor in 2010; Tenured and promoted to Professor of Law in 2013.
  • Prior Academic Experience: University of California Boalt Hall School of Law, Guest Lecturer, School Discipline Clinic, (March 2006), University of San Francisco School of Law, Guest Lecturer, Child Advocacy Clinic (April 2006).
  • Prior Professional Experience: Legal Services for Children, Inc. (San Francisco, Calif.) (2004-2007); Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Silberberg (New York, N.Y.) (2003-2004), Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (New York, NY (2000-2003)

Bar Admissions

California, New York, U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.


Child, Parent, and State - LAW 6714
  • Covers child abuse and neglect, juvenile justice, adoption and foster care, and discusses education and health entitlements of children and conflicts between parents and children over medical decision-making, religion, schooling and emancipation.
Cross-Border Litigation - 6930
  • This course is an introduction to cross-border litigation. The increasing physical and technological globalization of business has inevitably resulted in a dramatic increase globally in the number of litigated disputes where the parties are based in different jurisdictions, or there is some other international aspect, such as the location of evidence or assets. What substantive legal issues tend to arise? (e.g., jurisdiction, choice of law, enforcement of foreign judgments). What are the practical challenges associated with litigation across borders? How can both substantive legal and practical challenges be avoided, minimized, or managed? The first class will address these issues generally, and in the following classes we will discuss the following issues: Common Law vs. Civil Law Jurisdictions, International Judgment Enforcement, Government Enforcement Defense, Asset Recovery and Protection (other than Judgment Enforcement), Insolvency and Restructuring, Arbitration, and the Law of Privilege.
International Children’s Rights - LAW 6936
  • This course is about international children’s rights. The course explores the concept of childhood itself, what human rights violations children face today and the role that gender plays in determining the life chances of children. This course also considers child migration, more specifically, child trafficking, child labor, child sex trafficking and also considers children in armed conflict. In addition this course considers the movement of children for family reasons, and more specifically, transnational adoption, children who have lost their parents due to AIDS, child refugees and asylum seekers.
Perspectives in Family Law - LAW 6711
  • Covers the law of the family, including cases, statutes and constitutional precedents relating to marriage, divorce, non-traditional families, child custody, child and spousal support, adoption and reproductive technologies. Students will complete exercises in negotiation and drafting of documents in a simulated family law transaction.
Professional Responsibility And The Legal Profession - LAW 6750
  • Examines role of the individual lawyer and legal profession in contemporary society. Topics include the role of the lawyer as advocate, counselor, and officer of the court; the ethical and moral obligations lawyers owe their clients, other lawyers, courts, and society as derived from general ethical and moral principles and as embodied in model rules of professional conduct and the Restatement of the Law Governing Lawyers; and problems encountered in representing particular categories of clients, including individuals, corporations, criminal defendants, and indigents, among others.



  • Have I Ever Told You Black Lives Matter? (Tilbury House Publishers 2021)
  • The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Rights Law (Oxford University Press) (forthcoming 2019) (Shani King and Jonathan Todres, Eds.)
  • Have I Ever Told You? (Tilbury House Publishers) (2019) (award winning children’s book)
  • Have I Ever Told You? (Beaver’s Pond Press 2018) (award winning children’s book)

Academic Articles

  • “Contextualizing (Children’s) Immigation in Law, History, Theory and Politics, ” Mich. St. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2022)
  • “Cooperative Federalism and SJIS,” 61 B.C. L. Rev. 8 (2020) (with Nicole Silvestri Hall) [SSRN]
  • “Unaccompanied Minors, Statutory Interpretation, and Due Process,” 108 Calif. L. Rev. 1 (2020) [SSRN]
  • “Immigration, Adoption and Our National Identity,” 26 Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy 85-107 (2019) (focus of a symposium at Duke Law School for which the discussants were Dean Kerry Abrams and Prof. Katheryn Bradley) [SSRN]
  • “Child Migrants and America’s Evolving Immigration Mission,” 32 Harvard Human Rights Journal 59 (2019) [SSRN]
  • “A Center on Children and Families for the Future” in Daedalus (2019), available here
  • “The Intersection of Juvenile Justice and Early Childhood.” Fla. L. Rev. Forum (2019) (Shani King, Annah Ayasse, Alyssa Mikytuck, Rachel F Barr and Jennifer F. Woolard) [SSRN]
  • “Life-changing decisions: Exploring proximal and distal motivations behind why American parents adopt domestically or internationally,” Global Journal of Human Social Science, 18(7), 1-14. (Zhang, Y., Harris, V.W., Diehl, D., King, S.M., Schmeer, A., & Speegle, K.C.) (2018)
  • “Lessons from the Baby Elmo Project: Fostering the Relationships Between Incarcerated Teen Parents and Their Young Children,” 93 N.C.L. Rev. 1381 (2015) (with Jennifer Woolard and Rachel Barr) [SSRN]
  • “The Hague Convention and Domestic Violence: Proposals for Balancing the Policies of Discouraging Child Abduction and Protecting Children from Domestic Violence,” 38 Family Law Quarterly 299 (2013) [SSRN]
  • “Alone and Unrepresented: A Call to Congress to Provide Counsel for Unaccompanied Minors,” 50 Harvard Journal on Legislation 331 (2013) [SSRN]
  • “Owning Laura Silsby’s Shame: How The Haitian Child Trafficking Scheme Embodies The Western Disregard for the Integrity of Poor Families,” 25 Harvard Human Rights Journal 1 (2012) [SSRN]
  • “The Family Law Canon in a (Post?) Racial Era,” 72 Ohio State Law Journal 575 (2011) [SSRN]
  • “US Immigration Law and the Traditional Nuclear Conception of Family: Toward a Functional Definition of Family That Protects Children’s Fundamental Human Rights,” 41 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 509 (2010) [SSRN]
  • “Challenging MonoHumanism: An Argument for Changing the Way We Think About Intercountry Adoption,” 30 Mich. J. Int’l L. 413 (2009) [SSRN]
  • “Race, Identity and Professional Responsibility: Why Legal Services Organizations Need African American Staff Attorneys,” 18 Cornell J. L. & Pub. Pol. 1 (2008) [SSRN]