Education & Early Career
Professor Abrams holds a B.A. summa cum laude from Wesleyan University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and won the History Prize and the Scholar-Athlete Award. He holds his law degree from Columbia University School of Law.
From 1976-78, he served as a law clerk to Judge Hugh R. Jones of the New York Court of Appeals (New York’s highest court). From 1978-81, he was in private practice with Kaye Scholer, a Park Avenue firm in New York City. From 1982-89, he was an associate professor at Fordham University Law School.
Teaching & Scholarship
Professor Abrams joined the University of Missouri faculty in 1989. In the past 27 years, he has written or co-authored six books. The U.S. Supreme Court has cited his law review articles in four decisions.
Professor Abrams’ first book was The Law of Civil RICO (Aspen 1991). West Academic recently published the fifth edition of his casebook, Children and the Law–Doctrine, Policy and Practice (co-author), and the fifth edition of his Children and the Law In a Nutshell (co-author). In 2003, he wrote A Very Special Place in Life: The History of Juvenile Justice in Missouri. His other casebook is Contemporary Family Law, whose fourth edition West Academic published in 2015 (co-author). In 2016, West Academic published his sixth book, Effective Legal Writing: A Guide for Students and Practitioners.
At the law school, Professor Abrams has received the Administration of Justice, Distinguished Faculty Achievement, and Teacher-of-the-Year awards. He teaches Children and the Law, Constitutional Law, Family Law, and American Legal History.
With his book royalties, Professor Abrams created the Happiness For Health program, a permanent endowment that provides toys, stuffed animals, and games for sick and injured children at the MU Children’s Hospital. HFH also provides parties for children hospitalized on their birthdays and other special occasions.
He is vice-chair of the bipartisan 15-member Advisory Board of the Missouri Division of Youth Services (DYS), which is considered one of the nation’s foremost statewide juvenile justice treatment agencies. He serves on the Board of Advisors of the MU Children’s Hospital. He also recently completed an eight-year term on the board of directors and the executive committee of the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association, which promotes justice for the state’s children, youth, and families.
Professor Abrams is a Fellow of The Missouri Bar Foundation, which seeks to improve the legal system through law-related research, education and charitable endeavors. He serves on a special committee that advises the Missouri Bar Board of Governors on issues relating to member lawyers’ First Amendment speech rights concerning positions the Bar takes. He served on the Missouri Bar Commission on Children and the Law, and the legislature enacted several bills he drafted relating to children’s welfare. He chairs the editorial board of the Journal of the Missouri Bar, and he is the Associate Editor of the Juvenile and Family Court Journal.
In 1994, Professor Abrams received the Meritorious Service to the Children of America Award, presented by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. In 2000, he received a Spurgeon Smithson Award, presented by the Missouri Bar Foundation for outstanding service to the cause of justice. In 2005, he received a Chairperson’s Award from the Missouri Bar’s Young Lawyers Section. In 2011, he received the Missouri Bar’s Distinguished Service Award for career-long service in the law.
Professor Abrams was a goaltender on the Wesleyan University ice hockey team for four years. In 1973, he set the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III record for most saves in a game (64). He was the first Wesleyan hockey player to be named to the weekly ECAC All-East Team.
Professor Abrams was the 2013 recipient of the Excellence in Safety Award presented by USA Hockey, the sport’s national governing body. He is the first lawyer to receive the award, which usually recognizes a nationally known physician or medical researcher for “outstanding contributions through many years of service to make hockey a safer game for all participants.” He coached youth ice hockey at all age levels for 42 years, and he now writes and speaks about coaching, player safety, and sports ethics. (Professor Abrams’ sports publications are listed on pages 8 – 16 of his CV (PDF)).The New Hampshire Union Leader has called him “one of the people who help serve as the conscience for anyone involved in youth sports.”
In 1990, Professor Abrams played a leading role in creating the first organized youth hockey teams in mid-Missouri. During his eleven-year tenure as the new mid-Missouri youth hockey program’s first president, the program grew from 25 players to 180, while enrolling every interested child, encouraging beginners, teaching sportsmanship, providing need-based scholarships, and fully involving each player in every practice and game. In 1999, he received the Missouri Park and Recreation Association’s Citation Award for his pioneering service.
Professor Abrams’ coaching stressed citizenship education. As the players improved their athletic skills each year, his teams also conducted community service projects that won national, state, and local recognition. A local newspaper called one of his teams “a philanthropic organization on skates.”
Professor Abrams serves on the Team of Experts of MomsTEAM, a leading resource for youth sports parents about safety, nutrition, sportsmanship, and coaching.
He recently collaborated with former National Basketball Association player Bob Bigelow on a book that urges reform of sports programs for boys and girls under the age of 13.