Madeleine Robinson 3L has won recognition for her legal writing in the 13th annual Hofstra Law and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) Family Law Writing Competition.
She was chosen as the Honorable Mention winner for the depth of research and legal analysis, originality, and creativity demonstrated in her article “How New York Courts Should Analyze Incoming Claims of Domestic Violence in Equitable Distribution and a Response to Concerns.” The competition is run in cooperation with the editorial staff of the Family Court Review, AFCC’s academic and research journal, and as part of her award, her article will be published in an upcoming issue.
Robinson first became interested in the subject through her work as a Junior Editor for Family Law Quarterly, the scholarly journal published by the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association, in collaboration with New York Law School (NYLS). As a 2L, she was tasked with reviewing property division laws throughout the 50 states and comparing how different states split property. This led her to question why New York Courts were so hesitant to consider domestic violence when dividing property.
When she later learned that New York’s equitable distribution law were being amended to explicitly consider domestic violence claims, Robinson said, “I was intrigued to learn more, so I began researching.”
She developed her research and writing process as an independent study course during the fall of 2021, setting a timeline for her research, drafting, and revision phases, and meeting individually with professors for feedback. “Professor Grumet was enormously helpful in providing guidance when I had questions, and if I hit a dead-end in my research, Professor Roffer of the Mendik Library assisted me in finding new avenues of inquiry to pursue,” she noted.
During her intensive research process, she also learned that Senator Brad Hoylman was the New York State Senate sponsor of an independent bill that was very similar to the amendment that her article focuses on. Dean Anthony W. Crowell, who knows Senator Hoylman, reached out to connect him with Robinson.
“I am grateful for the assistance I received from Senator Hoylman’s office,” she says. “Their first-hand knowledge was very helpful in guiding my research into this type of legislation and how legislators intend for their bills to be interpreted.”
With her research into the enacting process for new legislation and in-depth information on the sponsor’s memorandum for the equitable distribution amendment, Robinson’s article objectively explores how the legislators’ intentions impact the standards for New York Family and Matrimonial Courts when they encounter cases with domestic violence claims. While it’s unclear if New York courts will adhere to these standards, she is optimistic about how it’s shaping out.
“This experience has reaffirmed my desire to pursue a career in family law and given me a greater appreciation for how dynamic the practice of law can be,” Robinson says.