Lisa Kelly

  • Professor Emeritus of Law


Phone: (206) 685-1826


B.A. 1979, University of Pittsburgh J.D. 1982, University of Pennsylvania

Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Expertise

Children’s Rights — Family Law

Selected Publications

See the full list under the Publications tab below.

Professor Kelly came to the UW in 2002 as a Distinguished Visitor and then joined the UW law school faculty in 2002. She directs the Children and Youth Advocacy Clinic and teaches Family Law and Child Advocacy. She is the co-author of Adoption Law: Theory, Policy and Practice (2006). She works closely with the Court Improvement Training Academy. Professor Kelly chairs the Statewide Children's Representation Workgroup established by the Washington Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care. She is the Bobbe and Jon Bridge Endowed Professor of Child Advocacy and served as Associate Dean at the UW Law School from 2007-2009.

Professor Kelly began her career practicing civil rights and family law in Arkansas, where she was local counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund for ten years. She began teaching at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and moved from there to West Virginia University College of Law, where she attained the status of tenured full professor. In 1996, she won the Association of American Law School's National Scholarly Paper Prize for her work entitled Race and Place: Geographic and Transcendent Community in the Post-Shaw Era, published in the Vanderbilt Law Review.

In West Virginia, Professor Kelly developed a multi-disciplinary training for law students to serve as guardians ad litem in dependency cases, which resulted in adding nearly 100 student attorneys to serve children in foster care. She was the reporter for the West Virginia Law Institute's Adoption Reform Project, which was the catalyst for legislative action on the state's adoption statute. She was also instrumental in influencing legislative change in West Virginia custody law.

Peer Reviewed Journals & Law Reviews

  • Lisa Kelly & Alicia LeVezu, Until the Client Speaks: Reviving the Legal-Interest Model for Preverbal Children, 50 Fam. L. Q. 383-426 (2016).
  • Lisa Kelly, Conceiving Nonmarital Fathers’ Rights: An Inquiry into the Constitutionality of West Virginia’s Adoption Statute, 102 W.Va. L. Rev. 667-721 (2000).
  • Lisa Kelly, Chain Gangs, Boogeymen and Other Real Prisons of the Imagination, 5 Race & Ethnic Anc. L.J. 1-41 (1999).
  • Lisa Kelly, West Virginia’s Adoption Statute: A History of a Work in Progress, 102 W.Va. L. Rev. 1-58 (1999).
  • Lisa Kelly, Yearning for Lake Wobegon: The Quest for the Best Test at the Expense of the Best Education, 7 S. Cal. Interdisc. L.J. 41-79 (1998).
  • Lisa Kelly, Divining the Deep and Inscrutable: Toward a Gender-Neutral, Child-Centered Approach to Child Name Change Proceedings, 99 W.Va. L. Rev. 1-80 (1996).
  • Lisa A. Kelly, Race and Place: Geographic and Transcendent Community in the Post-Shaw Era, 49 Vand. L. Rev. 227-308 (1996).
  • Lisa Kelly, If Anybody Asks You Who I Am: An Outsider’s Story of the Duty to Establish Paternity, 6 Yale J. L. & Feminism 297-312 (1994), reprinted in 3 Am. U. J. Gender & L. 247-63 (1995).

Books or Treatises

  • Lisa Kelly & Kimberly Ambrose, Representing Youth: Telling Stories, Imagining Change (Carolina Academic Press 2017). 498 pages.
  • Cynthia R. Mabry & Lisa Kelly, Adoption Law: Theory, Policy, and Practice (2d ed. Hein 2010). 842 pages.
  • Cynthia R. Mabry & Lisa Kelly, Adoption Law: Theory, Policy and Practice (Hein 2006). 808 pages.

News Media

  • Speaker, "Practicing Family Law in Uncertain Times", Alaska Bar Association (December 9, 2016)
  • Speaker, "Father Engagement in Child Welfare Proceedings", Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (June 4, 2016)
  • Moderator, Developmentally-Informed Representation of Young Children in Child Welfare, University of Washington School of Law (October 16, 2015)
  • Speaker, "Embracing Change: Using an Eco-Cycle Model to Understand the Challenges Facing Clinical Legal Education", Clinical Legal Education Conference, Association of American Law Schools (May 5, 2015)
  • Speaker, "Representing Youth—A Narrative Text in the Making", Applied Legal Storytelling Conference, City University (July 23, 2013)
  • Speaker, "Ceding Power and Seeding Power: Toward a Nonhierarchial Model of Clinical Legal Education", International Journal of Clinical Legal Education Conference, (July 13, 2012)
  • Speaker, "Ethical Representation of Youth in Child Welfare", Reasonable Efforts Symposium, (June 22, 2012)
  • Commentator, "Family Law Session", Symposium on Global Law and Its Exceptions, (February 25, 2011)
  • Moderator, LGBT Anti-Bullying Panel, University of Washington School of Law, Outlaws (February 22, 2011)
  • Speaker, "Chaired the Statewide Children's Representation Workgroup which authored and presented Meaningful Legal Representation for Children and Youth in Washington's Child Welfare System: Standards of Practice Voluntary Training and Caseload Limits in Response to HB 2735, presented December 20, 2010, to and adopted by the Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care, by the Administrative Office of the Courts and presented to the Washington legislature in December 30, 2010.", (December 20, 2010)
  • Speaker, Revision Quest: Teaching in the Transformative Era, Society of American Law Teachers (December 10, 2010)
  • Organizer, "Conversation between Law Faculty, Students and the WSBA on the Convention on the Rights of the Child", with Sylvia Kang'ara, Washington State Bar Association, Section of World Peace through Law (January 25, 2010)
  • Speaker, "A Letter to My Son", Seattle Public Schools Gay Straight Alliance, Kwanchai (January 21, 2010)
  • "State of the Law School", Law Firm Annual Challenge, Cozen O’Connor (May 14, 2009)
  • "Permanency for Washington’s Children", Spring Judicial Conference, (April 27, 2009)