Cynthia Lee Starnes

Cynthia Lee Starnes
  • The John F. Schaefer Chair in Matrimonial Law
  • Established through a gift from Trustee Emeritus John Schaefer
  • Law


Cynthia Lee Starnes, the John F. Schaefer Chair in Matrimonial Law, conducts her work at the intersection of family law, partnership law, and feminist theory. Her critiques of current law and reform proposals have provoked wide- spread commentary.

She earned a bachelor’s of science with high honors from Michigan State University, followed by her Juris Doctor from Indiana University School of Law, where she graduated cum laude. She furthered her legal studies at Columbia University School of Law, where she earned an LLM in 1989.

Starnes has presented her scholarship in both international and national fora, and has worked with grass roots communi- ty groups dedicated to law reform. Starnes has taught family law to students abroad, and commercial law to judges at the National Judicial College. A long-term member of the MSU Law faculty, she co-chairs the Child and Family Advocacy certificate program, is co-advisor of the Family Law focus area, and serves as faculty advisor to the Family Law Society. Professor Starnes was named an MSU Outreach and Engage- ment Senior Fellow for her scholarly work toward community change, and was appointed in 2006 as one of six Computer Assisted Legal Instruction Fellows in Family Law. Her publi- cations include articles in the University of Chicago Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, Iowa Law Review, and Indiana Law Journal.