Douglas E. Abrams

Douglas Abrams
  • Children and the law
  • Family law
  • Juvenile justice
  • Constitutional Law
  • American Legal History
  • Youth sports
Associate Professor of Law

BA (1973), Wesleyan University
JD (1976), Columbia University School of Law

Education & Early Career

Professor Abrams holds a B.A. summa cum laude from Wesleyan University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and won the History Prize and the Scholar-Athlete Award. He holds his law degree from Columbia University School of Law.

From 1976-78, he served as law clerk to Judge Hugh R. Jones of the New York Court of Appeals (New York's highest court). From 1978-81, he was in private practice with Kaye Scholer, a Park Avenue firm in New York City. From 1982-89, he was an associate professor at Fordham University Law School.

Teaching & Scholarship

Professor Abrams joined the University of Missouri faculty in 1989. In the past 25 years, he has written or co-authored five books and the U.S. Supreme Court has cited his law review articles in four decisions.

Professor Abrams' first book was The Law of Civil RICO (Aspen 1991). West Academic recently published the fifth edition of his casebook, Children and the Law--Doctrine, Policy and Practice (co-author), and the fourth edition of his Children and the Law In a Nutshell (co-author). In 2003, he wrote A Very Special Place in Life: The History of Juvenile Justice in Missouri. His most recent book is Contemporary Family Law, a West Academic casebook whose fourth edition will appear in 2015 (co-author).

At the law school, Professor Abrams has received the Administration of Justice, Distinguished Faculty Achievement, and Teacher-of-the-Year awards. He teaches Children and the Law, Constitutional Law, Family Law, and American Legal History.

Public Service

With his book royalties, Professor Abrams created the Happiness For Health program, a permanent endowment that provides toys, stuffed animals, and games for sick and injured children at the MU Children’s Hospital. HFH also provides parties for children hospitalized on their birthdays and other special occasions.

He is vice-chair of the bipartisan 15-member Advisory Board of the Missouri Division of Youth Services (DYS), which is considered one of the nation's foremost statewide juvenile justice treatment agencies. He serves on the Board of Advisors of the MU Children's Hospital. He also serves on the board of directors and the executive committee of the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association, which promotes justice for the state's children, youth and families.

Professor Abrams is a Fellow of The Missouri Bar Foundation, which seeks to improve the legal system through law-related research, education and charitable endeavors. He advises the Missouri Bar Board of Governors on issues relating to member lawyers' First Amendment speech rights concerning positions the Bar takes. He served on the Missouri Bar Commission on Children and the Law, and the legislature enacted several bills he drafted relating to children's welfare. He is the Associate Editor of the Juvenile and Family Court Journal, and he chairs the editorial board of the Journal of the Missouri Bar.

In 1994, Professor Abrams received the Meritorious Service to the Children of America Award, presented by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. In 2000, he received a Spurgeon Smithson Award, presented by the Missouri Bar Foundation for outstanding service to the cause of justice. In 2005, he received a Chairperson's Award from the Missouri Bar's Young Lawyers Section. In 2011, he received the Missouri Bar's Distinguished Service Award for career-long service in the law.

Sports Ethics

Professor Abrams was a goaltender on the Wesleyan University hockey team for four years. In 1973, he set the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III record for most saves in a game (64). He was the first Wesleyan hockey player to be named to the weekly ECAC All-East Team.

Professor Abrams was the 2013 recipient of the Excellence in Safety Award presented by USA Hockey, the sport’s national governing body. He is the first lawyer to receive the award, which usually recognizes a nationally known physician or medical researcher for “outstanding contributions through many years of service to make hockey a safer game for all participants.” He coached youth ice hockey at all age levels for 42 years, and he now writes and speaks about coaching, player safety, and sports ethics. (Professor Abrams' sports publications are listed on pages 8 - 16 of his CV (PDF)).The New Hampshire Union Leader has called him "one of the people who help serve as the conscience for anyone involved in youth sports."

In 1990, Professor Abrams played a leading role in creating the first organized youth hockey teams in mid-Missouri. During his eleven-year tenure as the new mid-Missouri youth hockey program's first president, the program grew from 25 players to 180, while enrolling every interested child, encouraging beginners, teaching sportsmanship, providing need-based scholarships, and fully involving each player in every practice and game. In 1999, he received the Missouri Park and Recreation Association's Citation Award for his pioneering service.

Professor Abrams' coaching stressed citizenship education. As the players improved their athletic skills each year, his teams also conducted community service projects that won national, state, and local recognition. A local newspaper called one of his teams “a philanthropic organization on skates.”

Professor Abrams serves on the Team of Experts of MomsTEAM, a leading resource for youth sports parents about safety, nutrition, sportsmanship and coaching. He serves on the board of directors of the MomTEAM Institute, a leading health and safety advocate. He is a Champion of the Positive Coaching Alliance. He also serves on the Expert Panel of the Center For Sports Parenting, which is part of the Institute for International Sport at the University of Rhode Island.

Recent Publications


Children and the Law In a Nutshell with Sarah H. Ramsey, (5th ed., Thomson/West 2015).

Children and the Law: Doctrine, Policy & Practice with Sarah H. Ramsey, (5th ed., West Academic Publishing, 2014).

Contemporary Family Law with Naomi R. Cahn, Catherine J. Ross and David D. Meyer, (3rd ed., West Publishing 2012).

Academic Journals

Reforming High School American History Curricula: What Publicized Student Intolerance Can Teach Policymakers, __ TEXAS JOURNAL ON CIVIL LIBERTIES AND CIVIL RIGHTS __ (forthcoming 2015).
| SSRN |

Concussion Safety in Children's Sports: A Central Role for the "Power of the Permit", 10 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY LAW 1 (2014).
| SSRN | Westlaw | LexisNexis | HeinOnline | Journal website |

Confronting the Youth Sports Concussion Crisis: A Central Role for Responsible Local Enforcement of Playing Rules, 2 MISSISSIPPI SPORTS LAW REVIEW 75 (2013).
| SSRN | HeinOnline | Journal website |

Bullying Victimization as a Disability in Public Elementary and Secondary Education, 77 MISSOURI LAW REVIEW 781 (2013).
| SSRN | Westlaw | LexisNexis | HeinOnline |

School Bullying Victimization as an Educational Disability, 22 TEMPLE POLITICAL AND CIVIL RIGHTS LAW REVIEW 273 (2013).
| Westlaw | HeinOnline |

Teaching Legal History in the Age of Practical Legal Education, 53 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF LEGAL HISTORY 482 (2013).
| Westlaw | LexisNexis | HeinOnline |

Plagiarism in Lawyers' Advocacy: Imposing Discipline for Conduct Prejudicial to the Administration of Justice, 47 WAKE FOREST LAW REVIEW 921 (2013).
| SSRN | Westlaw | LexisNexis | HeinOnline | Journal website |

The Twelve-Year-Old Girl's Lawsuit that Changed America: The Continuing Impact of NOW v. Little League Baseball, Inc. at 40, 20 VIRGINIA JOURNAL OF SOCIAL POLICY AND THE LAW 241 (2012).
| SSRN | Westlaw | LexisNexis | HeinOnline |

Professional Journals

The Art of Persuasion: Lessons from an Author Who Shaped Presidential Policy, 40 MONTANA LAWYER 26 (March 2015).
| Westlaw | HeinOnline |

Civility (Part I), 9 PRECEDENT No.2, p.28-30 (Spring 2015).
| SSRN |

Historian Barbara W. Tuchman on the 'Art of Writing' (Part II), 9 PRECEDENT No.1, p.18-21 (Winter 2015).
| SSRN |

Historian Barbara W. Tuchman on the 'Art of Writing' (Part I), 8 PRECEDENT No.4, p.24-27 (Fall 2014).
| SSRN |

A Primer on Juvenile Protection Legislation, 65 JUVENILE AND FAMILY COURT JOURNAL 1 (Summer/Fall 2014).
| Wiley |

One Judge's 'Top Ten Tips for Effective Brief Writing' (Part II), 8 PRECEDENT No.3, p.15-17 (Summer 2014).
| SSRN |

One Judge's 'Top Ten Tips for Effective Brief Writing' (Part I), 8 PRECEDENT No.2, p.27-29 (Spring 2014).
| SSRN |

George Orwell's Classic Essay on Writing: The Best Style "Handbook" for Lawyers and Judges (Part II), 8 PRECEDENT No.1, p.29-32 (Winter 2014), reprinted with part 1 in 50 TENNESSEE BAR JOURNAL 20 (May 2014), 29 MAINE BAR JOURNAL 65 (2014) and 86 OKLAHOMA BAR JOURNAL 333 (2015).
| SSRN | HeinOnline |

George Orwell's Classic Essay on Writing: The Best Style "Handbook" for Lawyers and Judges (Part I), 7 PRECEDENT No.4, p.23-25 (Fall 2013), reprinted with part 2 in 50 TENNESSEE BAR JOURNAL 20 (May 2014), 29 MAINE BAR JOURNAL 65 (2014) and 86 OKLAHOMA BAR JOURNAL 333 (2015).
| SSRN | HeinOnline |

The Little League Champions Benched by Jim Crow in 1955: Resistance and Reform after Brown v. Board of Education, 38 JOURNAL OF SUPREME COURT HISTORY 51 (2013).
| SSRN | Wiley Online |

A Primer on Criminal Child Abuse and Neglect Law, 64 JUVENILE AND FAMILY COURT JOURNAL 1 (Summer 2013).
| Wiley |

Plagiarism in Lawyers' Written Advocacy (Part II), 7 PRECEDENT No.3, p.24-26 (Summer 2013).
| SSRN |

Plagiarism in Lawyers' Written Advocacy (Part I), 7 PRECEDENT No.2, p.34-37 (Spring 2013).
| SSRN |

Acronyms, 6 PRECEDENT No.4, p.44-46 (Fall 2012).
| SSRN |

How Not to File a Complaint, 6 PRECEDENT No.3, p.52-54 (Summer 2012).
| SSRN |

How Written Advocacy Shapes Doctrine (Part I): Did Bad Briefing Decide Lochner v. New York?, 6 PRECEDENT No.1 24-27 (2012).
| SSRN |

Additional Publications

20/20 Foresight: Coaches Can Have More of an Impact by Removing Dangerous Drills From Practices, USA HOCKEY MAGAZINE, September 2014.

Complete Listing of Publications