Elizabeth S Scott

Elizabeth S. Scott is the Harold R. Medina Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Curriculum at Columbia Law School. Scott teaches family law, property, criminal law, and children and the law. She has written extensively on marriage, divorce, cohabitation, child custody, adolescent decision-making, and juvenile delinquency. Her research is interdisciplinary, applying behavioral economics, social science research, and developmental theory to family/juvenile law and policy issues.

She was the founder and co-director of the University of Virginia's Interdisciplinary Center for Children, Families and the Law. She also held a professorship at the university and served as legal director of the university’s Forensic Psychiatry Clinic, Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy.

From 1995 to 2006, Scott was involved in empirical research on adolescents in the justice system as a member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice.  

In 2008, she published Rethinking Juvenile Justice with developmental psychologist Laurence Steinberg. The book draws on their collaborative work to offer a developmental framework for juvenile justice policy, and received the 2010 Society for Research in Adolescence Social Policy Best Authored Book Award.  

Scott received her J.D. from the University of Virginia in 1977 and a B.A. from the College of William & Mary in 1967.

Research Interests

Adolescent / Young Adult Developmental Transitions
Adverse Childhood Experiences
Child Policy
Family Policy
Place-Based Interventions
Policy (policies)
Reproductive Justice
Juvenile Justice


Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study
National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health