Professor Breger Bridges Practice and Theory in Classroom

| 8/28/2013 | Facebook | Twitter | Email

More than three quarters of Professor Melissa Breger’s most recent Family Law class took advantage of an opportunity to earn a few extra credit points by sitting in with a judge and taking a tour of Family Court facilities in Albany and Schenectady counties.

“I can teach them the theory and the black letter law, but in order to fully embrace family law, the students need to experience the culture of the courts, including the judges, the attorneys and the litigants,” explained Professor Breger, who noted that many of her colleagues on the faculty are increasingly supplementing their instruction with this type of hands-on experience.

After the visits to Family Court, Professor Breger asks the students to write a brief paper on the experience, and how it relates to what they are learning from their casebooks and in classroom dialogue. Similarly, Professor Breger’s Criminal Procedure students have an opportunity to visit the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Center to follow DNA sample processing, and her Evidence students were also invited to tour the Center for extra credit points. 

Professor Breger has also enlisted students’ help in other extra credit projects. For example, one semester, students were offered extra credit for preparing a paper on cutting-edge topics in Family Court reform. That March, Professor Breger drew from these insights as she prepared to testify in Long Island for the New York State Bar Association.

For all of her classes, Professor Breger tries to bring in guest speakers. For one, it offers additional insight and perspective, and two, it offers students a chance to mingle with potential employers.

For her Gender & the Law and Children & the Law classes, for example, Professor Breger brings together panels of attorneys, many of whom are Albany Law alumni, and academics from other institutions to expose her students to different perspectives and areas of practice, as well as to network.


Professor Breger has been teaching at the law school level for 14 years, first at The University of Michigan Law School and then at Albany Law School since 2002. Prior to teaching, Professor Breger dedicated her career to children, women and families, with her formative years practicing in New York City in a number of capacities.

She is the recipient of several teaching and service awards, both on a local level and on a national level, including the Shanara C. Gilbert Award in Recognition of Her Excellence in Teaching and Contributions to the Advancement of Social Justice from the American Association of Law Schools and the L. Hart Wright Excellence in Law Teaching Award from The University of Michigan Law School. Professor Breger also received the Albany County Family Court Children’s Center Award “In Recognition Of Her Outstanding And Tireless Work Assisting Children And Families In Need And For Her Dedication To Ensure That Law Students Obtain The Skills Necessary To Provide High Quality And Compassionate Legal Services To Family Court Litigants” in May 2008.

Professor Breger’s current courses at Albany Law School include Evidence, Family Law, Criminal Procedure: Investigation (4th, 5th, 6th A), Gender & the Law, and Children & the Law. She has taught the Domestic Violence Seminar and was the former Director of the Family Violence Litigation Clinic from 2002 to 2010.

Professor Breger is the co-author of NEW YORK LAW OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, a two-volume treatise published by Reuters-Thomson-West, as well as the author of numerous law review articles regarding issues of family law, gender, and justice. Her scholarly interests include the rights of children and families, gender and racial equality, procedural justice in the courtroom, juvenile justice, the increasing epidemic of child trafficking, law and culture, and the intersections between psychology and the law.a