By Stephen D. Hamilton
Chair, Family Law Executive Committee (FLEXCOM)
The Family Law Section has had an incredibly productive start to 2019. At our first meeting in San Jose, we developed and planned our Access to Justice program. FLEXCOM was inspired by the message of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye at the 2018 California Lawyers Association Annual Meeting, in which she emphasized the role of the sections in providing access to justice.
FLEXCOM has taken up that charge. We will be writing and recording videos to assist the self-represented. These videos will be accessible via YouTube. Links will be available from our section page and will be shared with family law facilitators throughout the state. The videos will address topics such as how to complete required pleadings, how to dress and present yourself in court and what a Declaration of Disclosure is and why it is so important.
FLEXCOM successfully completed our first live education event of the year, the 2019 San Luis Obispo County Minor’s Counsel Training in Pismo Beach on February 16 and 17. We had 140 registrants who practice in 30 counties throughout the state. We also had a stellar faculty: Los Angeles County Superior Court JudgeThomas Trent Lewis; San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Erin M. Childs;, Cheryl Scott, the director of Family Court Services in Fresno County; and attorneys Mary Kelly Persyn, Gregory F. Gillett and myself. The training once again received high marks from attendees. This training serves an important need, as attorneys who represent minors in family court must not only receive 12 hours of initial training to begin representing minors but also complete eight hours of training annually to stay current with the requirements of the Rules of Court. FLEXCOM is very pleased to have been able to conduct this event. The Minor’s Counsel Training serves a vital need for local courts by providing the education necessary for attorneys to carry out the thankless, but the incredibly rewarding, task of representing the most vulnerable people in family court: children.
FLEXCOM completed another successful Legislation Day in Sacramento on February 20, 2019. Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assembly members Richard Bloom, Jordan Cunningham and Mark Stone graciously met with us in individual sessions to share their perspectives on current legislative issues. They also sought out our input regarding a variety of issues, including our separation from the State Bar of California. This is always an incredibly rewarding opportunity for the FLEXCOM members and advisors who attend, and a highlight of every year.
So what’s next for FLEXCOM? In March, we will be holding our next meeting which will include a past chair dinner for the 40 previous chairs of the Family Law Executive Committee. We are also continuing to publish our Family Law News in print on a quarterly basis, and our electronic Family Law News Monthly. I am particularly proud of the fact the FLNM has a monthly (and up-to-date) summary of all published cases affecting the practice of family law in every edition. FLEXCOM is also working on our affirmative legislation for the next legislative year. We expect to develop several significant and needed legislative proposals over the course of the next eight months.
For those of you who practice family law, even if it is only part of your practice, I encourage you to join or remain in the Family Law Section. We have an incredible group of intelligent, dedicated attorneys working on FLEXCOM to enhance the practice of family law in California. As a result, the Family Law Section is putting on important and interesting live education as well as webinars. We are at the forefront of family law legislative advocacy. And we generate high quality, informative publications on a monthly and quarterly basis. I can without equivocation state the benefits of membership in the Family Law Section far exceed the nominal cost.