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Deirdre M. Smith

Director of the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic and Professor of Law, University of Maine
Chapter Member: Maine SSN
Areas of Expertise:
  • Law & Courts
  • Children & Families

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About Deirdre

Smith’s research focuses on families and the law, including parental rights, minor guardianship, child protection, kinship care, and adoption. Overarching themes in Smith’s writing include: private vs. public forms of child protection and other interventions in parent-child relationships, the role of extended family in caregiving of children, and preserving parental rights. Smith serves as a consultant to the Maine Family Law Advisory Commission (an official body that advises the Maine Legislature) and formerly served as an Observer on the Drafting Committee for the Uniform Law Commission's newly enacted Uniform Guardianship Conservatorship and Other Protective Arrangements Act. Smith has been involved with several law reform initiatives in the Maine Legislature addressing families, children, and courts in both public and private family law matters.

Publications

"Keeping it in the Family: Minor Guardianship as Private Child Protection" Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal (forthcoming).

Analyzes how outdated guardianship laws are being used as a form of "private child protection" and to propose changes aimed to serve the needs and interests of families in crisis. 

"Family Law Advisory Commission Report on Maine Probate Code Parental Rights Provisions to the Maine Legislature Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary," Family Law Advisory Commission, January 15, 2017.

Outlines the Family Law Advisory Commission's (FLAC) key findings and a summary of recommendations based on those finding's from FLAC's study pursuant to a Resolve directing FLAC to "oversee a comprehensive review of the laws and procedures concerning minor guardianship and adoption and other provisions implication parental rights throughout the [Maine] Probate Code, including, but not limited to, an evaluation of the extent to which such laws, procedures, and provisions are consistent with family law policy as set forth elsewhere in the Maine Revised Statutes.

"From Orphans to Families in Crisis: Parental Rights Matters in Maine Probate Courts " Maine Law Review 68, no. 45 (2016).

Examines the sources of the contemporary problems associated with the adjudication of parental rights matters in Maine's probate courts and identifies specific reforms to address both the structural and substantive law problems.

"Report to Office of the Attorney General on Review of Maine Statutes Regarding Kinship and Sibling Placement in Child Protection Matters," Available from Author, December 29, 2017.

Describes the results of a review conducted at the request of the Maine Legislature's Joint Committee on Judiciary for the Office of the Attorney General of Maine on the provisions in the Maine Child Protection Act addressing kinship and sibling placement and outlines recommendations for reform.