Tech Revolution in Family Law
Earlier this year we published our first digital trial technology article, “Ten Commandments for Using Technology in the Courtroom,” by Judge Thomas Trent Lewis, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles and Eve Lopez, CFLS (Los Angeles County) (Spring 2017). This quarter, Shanon K. Quinley, CFLS (Los Angeles County), brings us “Electronic Filing in California Family Law Courts,” a state-wide round-up discussing the digitizing of the filing process. Read her lead article to see the progress in your county as compared with others. Because digital filing will lead to greater use of digital methods in the courtroom, in the future, we will present information from some of our digital trial early adaptors on the status of the presentation of digital trials throughout the state.
Now that electronic filing is being implemented, I offer the following challenge: As ACFLS members, holding ourselves out as the best and brightest, we should be exploring the benefits of digital trial methods for our clients, and we should be taking powerful strides toward being the Family Law technology leaders wherever we practice in California.
To help, the editorial committee is still actively soliciting articles on digital programs and apps, digital equipment, best use of digitized documentation, and how digital presentations can benefit clients by being more expositive of the evidence, more organized, and less expensive than traditional trial evidence presentation methods.
We need your articles illuminating any combination of the following: a) Your best approaches to successfully using the three major digital presentation methods, i.e., apps such as TrialPad with an iPad or Surface; programs such as Sanctions with a laptop; or tech presentation firms or employees who personally assist; b) Your tips on court-provided equipment vs. bringing your own projectors and equipment; and c) How you have overcome challenges with the laborious process of learning something most of us did not learn in law school—namely, electronic presentation of evidence. Submit your draft articles to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Debra Frank, CFLS (Los Angeles County), Associate Editor (email@example.com).
Emphasis on Pensions
In this issue, we present the second part of Mark E. Sullivan’s article, “’The Clock is Ticking’ – Dates and Deadlines in the Military Divorce Case.” If you missed his other ACFLS articles on pensions, and you are a member, log into the ACFLS.org website, to view and/or download the Summer 2017 edition to read “’The Clock is Ticking’ – Dates and Deadlines in the Military Divorce Case (Part One)” and “The Death of Indemnification.”
ACFLS Amicus Committee Applauded
Although often overlooked as a benefit of belonging to ACFLS, our Amicus Committee provides leadership at the state level in two areas worth applauding:
- The Amicus Committee writes briefs on important family law matters.
- The Amicus Committee also monitors new cases of interest to family law, and submits letters seeking either publication or de-publication of cases. The committee recently successfully sought publication of In re Marriage of Minkin, discussed in Lisa McCall’s article in this issue. The expertise of our ACFLS committee is reflected in the high rate of success in our publication and depublication requests. Co-chairs are Leslie Ellen Shear, CFLS, CALS (Los Angeles County) and E. Stephen Temko, CFLS, CALS (San Diego County).
Because an unofficial poll at our last Spring Seminar revealed that our membership is largely unaware of this committee’s important work, more emphasis on the committee’s efforts will be featured in the Family Law Specialist starting with this issue.
More Unsung Heroes: ACFLS Legislative Committee
Membership is also largely unaware of the functions of our ACFLS Legislative Committee. The committee work includes: a) analyzing family law related Senate and Assembly bills; b) preparing comments on proposals for new legislation received from other bar and community organizations; as well as c) proposing new legislation. This third function is illustrative of our organization’s statewide impact. The committee worked with a small group of other leading voices to shepherd through changes, via SB 1255, subsequently enacted as Family Code section 70, rejecting the holdings in Davis and Norviel in favor of the trial court’s exercise of discretion in making a factual determination about parties’ date of separation, based on the totality of the circumstances. The committee, including chair Michele Brown (San Diego County) works closely with liaisons to provide rapid feedback and to receive first looks at all incoming proposals.
Future issues of the Family Law Specialist will highlight the efforts and successes of this committee.
Feedback on Making Articles More Useful
Last quarter, in the Editor’s Desk, I asked you to send comments on what types of Family Law Specialist articles have been most useful to you, and what features of those articles made them most memorable. Although our study on how to elevate the value of the Family Law Specialist to our readers is not complete, the committee has already received valuable feedback.
First, we were told by several readers that we should try to include more charts, graphs, checklists, or spreadsheets. In other words, we are hearing that the maxim, “a picture tells a thousand words,” applies to the Family Law Specialist. Accordingly, we will alert our authors that, whenever possible, schedules and illustrations should be included—leave it to lawyers to want demonstrative evidence!
Secondly, one lawyer who is also an educator gave such resounding feedback on the usefulness of an article printed last year, that it deserves mention here. The lawyer said that his well-received course features: “Retroactivity of Family Code Section 70” by Judge Thomas Trent Lewis, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles and Dawn Gray, CFLS (Nevada County) (Winter 2017).
Lastly, we are learning that although print issues may seem archaic, and are definitely more expensive to produce, there is a place for the print issue in the monthly reading of our members. One comment was that the distinctive gold and blue journal gets noticed, but emails from other organizations announcing their on-line only publications often get overlooked.
We are still soliciting feedback: What types of articles, or what features of articles, make the Family Law Specialist most valuable to you? Would you still use the articles if they were only delivered via email or by other digital format? Send your comments to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Debra Frank, CFLS (Los Angeles County), Associate Editor (email@example.com).
Lynette Berg-Robe’s (Los Angeles County) article, “Leading by Example: The New ACFLS Charitable Foundation, Inc.,” discusses the history, activities to date and future plans of the ACFLS Foundation, a separate 501(c)(3) charitable foundation established “to contribute to ACFLS’s legacy by raising funds to donate to organizations and persons working to enhance access to justice in family law, to provide scholarships to legal aid attorneys, and to make donations to other non-profits who are providing education, training, and mentoring in family law or who are engaging in other activities consistent with the mission of ACFLS.” She encourages ACFLS members to contact qualified organizations and individuals to apply for a grant. The Foundation’s goal is to have every ACFLS member pledge a yearly donation of **one billable hour.**
Also In Our Pages
With this issue, we welcome Heidi Tuffias (Los Angeles County) back from her hiatus and look forward to future articles she plans to provide us from time to time.
We also thank Beverly Brautigam, CPA, for her nuanced article entitled, “Tax Reporting for Community Incentive Stock Options (ISO), Non-qualified stock options (NQ) and Restricted Stock Units (RSU).” We look forward to future informative articles from Ms. Brautigam.
New Editorial Committee Members
Thank you to all new committee members for their commitment to the Family Law Specialist and the advancement of the education of our ACFLS membership. The committee is now complete:
- Christine D. Gille, Esq., Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Debra Frank, Esq., Associate Editor, email@example.com
- Jason Schwartz, Esq., editorial committee member, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Shanon Quinley, Esq., editorial committee member, email@example.com
- Dorie Rogers, Esq., editorial committee member, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lisa McCall, Esq., editorial committee member, email@example.com
- Courtney Shepard, Esq., editorial committee member, firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in our journal are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of ACFLS.