Sharon Clarke ’06
Senior Court Attorney, Nassau County Family Court
As a senior court attorney supporting the Honorable Edmund M. Dane, supervising judge of the Nassau County Family Court, Sharon Clarke ’06 is no stranger to dealing with families in crisis.
When Clarke began law school in 2003 she knew that was where her passion lay. She had previously been a licensed social worker for more than a decade, and following a stint in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office as a social worker in the Special Victims Bureau, Clarke knew she wanted to combine her social work skills with legal training to make a positive impact in people’s lives.
She chose to attend Hofstra Law because of the School’s reputation as a leader in the area of family law. While in law school, Clarke was a recipient of the Child and Family Advocacy Fellowship, and she maximized opportunities to take family law courses and participate in related programs — she was managing editor of articles for the Family Court Review, served in the Child Advocacy Clinic and was a graduate assistant to Professor J. Herbie DiFonzo, one of Hofstra Law’s several prominent family law experts.
“Overall I had a very positive experience at Hofstra Law,” says Clarke. “It was great to be able to participate in so many activities related to my field of interest.” Clarke also notes that she developed very close friendships with the Child and Family Advocacy Fellows and has stayed in touch with them over the past few years.
Besides helping families, another aspect of Clarke’s current position she enjoys is that it changes day to day, due both to the Judge Dane’s demanding calendar and the variety of cases that come before him. Despite new daily challenges, she always works closely with the judge, other attorneys, clients and the Nassau County Department of Social Services to ensure that families receive the essential support and services they so desperately need.
“Family court is seen as a helping court, as opposed to something that’s criminal or more adversarial in nature,” says Clarke. “We use best practices in our field to determine what measures need to put in place in order to keep parents from losing custody of their children, or in circumstances of separation, what can be done in order to reunify children with their parents.”
Despite her enthusiasm for the field of family law, Clarke cautions that it is not for everyone. “Make sure it’s something you want to do,” she advises. “It’s not as lucrative as other areas of law, and it can bring up personal issues, especially when dealing with abuse and neglect cases.
“But family law is a wonderful area and, in my opinion, the most important area of law. You may not ever be the victim of a crime or you may not ever deal with a corporate merger, but every person has a family, and every family at some time goes through a crisis. Everyone can identify with that.”