• Full-Time Faculty
  • Jessica Dixon Weaver

  • Associate Professor of Law

“The dilemma that the sandwich generation faces is an economic standoff between support for their children’s future or their parents’ decline. As the caregiving needs of seniors and children synchronize, it is useful to develop theoretical and practical legal solutions that garner public support for the demands that an increasingly larger aging population will have on the private family.”

  • fulltime Faculty
  • Jessica Dixon Weaver

  • Associate Professor of Law

“The dilemma that the sandwich generation faces is an economic standoff between support for their children’s future or their parents’ decline. As the caregiving needs of seniors and children synchronize, it is useful to develop theoretical and practical legal solutions that garner public support for the demands that an increasingly larger aging population will have on the private family.”

Jessica Dixon Weaver

Associate Professor of Law

  • Biography

    • Professor Weaver teaches Family Law, Advanced Family Law, Professional Responsibility, and Children and the Law.  She joined the tenure track faculty in 2009 and became the first African American female to earn tenure at SMU Dedman School of Law in 2015.   She is an expert in child welfare law and public policy, and much of her scholarship focuses on theorizing methods for improvement of the legal systems and policies affecting families and children.  Her current research and scholarship focus on the exploration of a theoretical basis to support a unified legal approach to intergenerational caregiving for children and senior citizens.  She also researches and writes about the intersection of race, gender, and family law.  One of her works in progress focuses on the influence of slavery laws on the legal structure and identity of American families during the ante-bellum era, as well as how these laws impacted the development of divorce, child custody and child support laws. 
       
      Professor Weaver has been invited to present her research and articles at a number of prestigious law schools, including Yale, University of California Berkeley, Washington University, Emory, Washington and Lee, Brigham Young, and Fordham.   Her publications have covered a wide array of topics, including the overrepresentation of African-American children in the child welfare system, multigenerational living and intergenerational caregiving, psychological abuse of children, child homelessness, and ethical issues arising from the use of state promulgated forms in family courts.  Professor Weaver’s articles have been cited by top family law and feminist legal scholars as well as excerpted in law casebooks.  One of her articles entitled, "Grandma in the White House:  Legal Support for Intergenerational Caregiving," 43 Seton Hall Law Review 1 (2013)(lead article), garnered the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama, who sent her personal letter of thanks on behalf of her mother, Mrs. Marian Robinson. 
       
      Professor Weaver is an active faculty member on campus and within the legal academy.  In 2014, Professor Weaver was featured on SMU’s Year of the Faculty website, which highlighted faculty who had been newsmakers through their respective achievements.  She is a past chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Children and the Law, and was co-chair of the 2015 Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference.  In 2015, she received the Faculty Appreciation Award from the SMU Women in Law organization, and the SMU Black Law Students Association honored her with an award in her name to be given to a graduating 3L who has demonstrated excellence in leadership and made significant contributions to the law school.
       
      Professor Weaver received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she served as notes development editor of the Virginia Law Review. She began her legal career in 1995 with the national firm of Littler Mendelson, and eventually began a solo practice in 1997.  She practiced in the areas of juvenile, employment and business law before coming to SMU Dedman School of Law in 2002.  Professor Weaver served as the first Director of the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Child Advocacy Clinic for seven years.  During her time as Director, the clinic received the 2006 11th Annual Equal Justice Award from Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, Inc.  In 2009, the Texas Lawyer recognized Professor Weaver as an Extraordinary Minority in Texas Law for her work as a clinic director and child advocate.  
  • Areas of Expertise

    • Children Welfare Law
      Children's Rights
      Family Law
      Legal Ethics
      Feminist Legal Issues
       
  • Education

    • B.A., University of Pennsylvania
      J.D., University of Virginia
  • Courses

    • Children and the Law
      Family Law
      Advanced Family Law Seminar
      Professional Responsibility
  • Books

    • FAMILY LAW SIMULATIONS:  BRIDGE TO PRACTICE (West Academic, forthcoming 2017)

      FAMILY LAW:  CASES & MATERIALS (Carolina Academic Press, forthcoming 2017) (with Jacquelyn Bridgeman & Angela Onwuachi-Willig)
  • Presentations

    • Vulnerability, Resistant Assets, and Reciprocal Exchange
      2015 Lutie A. Lytle Black Women Law Faculty Writing Workshop
      Vanderbilt University School of Law
      (July 11, 2015)
       
      2015 AALS Midyear Meeting
      "Workshop on Shifting Foundations:  Family Law’s Response to Changing Families”
      Orlando, Florida 
      (June 24, 2015)
       
      Emerging Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference
      Florida A&M College of Law
      (June 22, 2015)
       
      Invited Panelist
      Law and Society Association Annual Meeting:  Aging and Inequalities
      (May 30, 2015)
       
      Selected Panelist
      A Workshop on Theorizing the State:  The Resources of Vulnerability
      Emory University School of Law
      (December 6, 2014)

      The Fluid Family Theory
      Invited Panelist
      The Future of Families and Family Law
      Brigham Young University School of Law
      (October 10, 2014)

      30 Year Anniversary of the Feminism and Legal Theory Project Roundtable
      Invited Panelist
      Law and Society Association Annual Meeting: Law and Inequalities: Global and Local
      (May 30, 2014)

      Slavery and the Origins of Family Law
      2014 Lutie A. Lytle Black Women Law Faculty Writing Workshop
      University of Wisconsin School of Law
      (June 27, 2014)

      Emerging Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference
      University of Minnesota Law School
      (May 28, 2014)

      The Impact of Slavery on Private Family Law
      Competitively Selected Presenter
      2014 Critical Race Theory Conference
      “Re-Envisioning Race in a ‘Post-Racial’ Era: New Approaches in Critical Race Theory"
      Yale Law School
      (April 5, 2014)

      Selected Panelist
      Mid-Atlantic People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference 2014
      University of Baltimore School of Law
      (January 24, 2014)

      Beyond Child Welfare: Theories on Child Homelessness
      Invited Panelist
      Symposium 2014: Emerging Issues in Child Welfare
      Washington and Lee University School of Law
      (February 28, 2014)

      Overstepping Ethical Boundaries? Limitations on State Efforts to Provide Access to Justice in Family Courts
      Invited Participant
      2013 Stein Ethics Center Colloquium
      Legal Monopoly of Lawyers
      Fordham Law School
      (October 18, 2013)

      Child Sexual Victimization:  When Abused Children Become Neglectful Mothers                            
      2013 Southeastern Association of Law Schools Conference
      Children in the Law Discussion Group
      (August 4, 2013)
       
      Brown Bag Lunch Visiting Scholar Presentation
      Emory University School of Law
      (November 8, 2012)
      available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlZ0gzKxrZ0
       
      2012 Lutie A. Lytle Black Women Law Faculty Writing Workshop
      Suffolk University Law School
      (June 30, 2012)
       
      Sustaining Families: Global and Local Perspectives
      Mid-West Family Law Consortium and International Society of Family Law
      University of Iowa School of Law
      (June 14, 2012)
       
      Emerging Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference
      Fordham Law School
      (May 22, 2012)
       
      Grandma in the White House: Legal Support for Intergenerational Caregiving
      Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting
      AALS Section on Children and the Law Panel Presentation
      “Evolving Responsibilities: The Impact of Recent Trends on Children and Families”
      (January 5, 2013)

      Faculty Development Brown Bag Workshop
      Georgia State University School of Law
      (November 6, 2012) 
       
      Faculty Enrichment Workshop
      University of Florida Levin College of Law
      (November 2, 2012)
       
      Sustaining Families:  Global and Local Perspectives
      Mid-West Family Law Consortium and International Society of Family Law
      University of Iowa School of Law                
      (June 16, 2012)
       
      SMU Faculty Forum
      Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
      (April 12, 2012)
       
      2011 Lutie A. Lytle Black Women Law Faculty Writing Workshop
      Texas Southern  University
      Thurgood Marshall School of Law
      (June 18, 2011)
       
      Feminism and Legal Theory / Vulnerability and the Human Condition Projects Workshop
      Emory University School of Law
      (January 22, 2011)

      The First Father: Perspectives on the President’s Fatherhood Initiative
      2011 Law and Society Association Annual Meeting
      “The Future of Fatherhood,” San  Francisco
      (June 4, 2011)

      Emerging Family Law Scholars and Teachers Conference 2011
      University of California Hastings College of Law
      (June 1, 2011)

      African-American Grandmothers: Does the Gender Entrapment Theory Apply?
      Art, Life & Law
      “Sharing ideas, experiences and solutions: a conversation surrounding kinship care within the African American family”
      South Dallas Cultural Center
      (June 22, 2012)

      Invited Commentator for Keynote Speaker Professor Beth E. Richie
      Access to Justice Symposium
      Washington University School of Law
      Saint Louis, MO
      (March 28, 2011)

      The Principal of Subsidiarity Applied: Reforming the Legal Framework to Capture the Psychological Abuse of Children
      Invited Speaker
      Blue Ribbon Task Force
      San Antonio, TX
      (June 18, 2012)

      Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting
      Poster Presentation
      (January 7, 2011)

      Capturing the Psychological Abuse of Children
      Feminism and Legal Theory Project Workshop
      Emory University School of Law
      (March 20 2010)




       
  • Other

    • Works in Progress

      Slavery and the Origins of Family Law
       
      Vulnerability, Resistant Assets, and Reciprocal Exchange
                             
      The Fluid Family Theory
       
      Child Sexual Victimization: When Abused Children Become Neglectful Mothers
       
      Father Chasing:  Ethical Duties in the Establishment of Voluntary Paternity