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Family Law

Message from the Chair

And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.

Paul Anka – My Way

Writing this message made me sad. It also gave me a great sense of relief. My final message as Chair also afforded me one last opportunity to tout the efforts of FLEXCOM.

The Sadness

The sadness comes from the feeling I will now drift back into obscurity. Although a past chair retired here, I was the first Family Law Section Chair to come from San Luis Obispo County. The opportunity given to me by FLEXCOM, first in being selected as a member and then being elected chair, provided a validation and recognition that is hard to come by when you practice in a rural county. Losing that cache, and deleting the title from my email signature, brings me sorrow. But as is often the way with life, loss can bring relief.

The Relief

After authoring four Family Law News messages, eleven Family Law News Monthly messages and scheduling and conducting eight FLEXCOM meetings, I am eagerly anticipating the term of incoming Chair Stephen Montagna, CFLS (Fairfield) which will begin at the California Lawyers Association Annual Meeting in Monterey.  I will continue to write case summaries for the FLNM and I am looking forward to helping Stephen Montagna as he takes the mantle and as he rolls out his vision and goals for FLEXCOM.

FLEXCOM’S Accomplishments 2018-2019

I am extremely proud of what FLEXCOM accomplished this term, through the collective efforts of our officers, members, advisors and liaisons. During the current term FLEXCOM:

  • Recognized four court staff in the State of California through our Court Staff Awards, which was overseen by my dear friend, Vice Chair (and incoming Chair) Stephen Montagna;
  • Participated in a public service project by volunteering at Project Angel Food in Los Angeles at the excellent suggestion of Secretary and incoming Vice-Chair Leena Hingnikar;
  • Developed our first section budget and found ways to reduce expenses while increasing revenues under the watchful eye of Treasurer and Past-Chair Avi Levy;
  • Reviewed the 3016 bills introduced during the 2019 legislative session, identified and tracked 58 bills which could potentially affect the practice of family law and wrote position letters to the legislature on 13 of the bills, all under the guidance of Legislation Chair Justin O’Connell;
  • Developed three different affirmative legislation proposals which will be presented during the 2020 legislative term through the efforts of Affirmative Legislation Chair Commissioner Louise Fightmaster and her Vice-Chair Tiffany Andrews;
  • Published 11 electronic issues of our Family Law News Monthly through the incredible efforts of our Editor Jillian E. Atuegbu;
  • Published 4 print versions of our Family Law News under the very capable and hardworking Editor Nathan Gabbard;
  • Conducted five different educational events, including (for the first time) the San Luis Obispo County Minor’s Counsel training, through the herculean efforts of Advisor and CLE Savant Sherry Peterson; and,
  • Produced over 30 webinars as part of our delivered education programs as a result of the tireless work of Delivered Education Chair Kelly Robbins and Advisor Melinda Sammis.

All FLEXCOM members, officers, advisors and liaisons were invaluable in helping FLEXCOM accomplish the three goals I had set at the outset of this term. With their hard work and support, FLEXCOM: 

  • Created a bridge to our California State Bar predecessors by hosting a Past Chair Dinner in Pismo Beach;
  • Made a concerted effort at promoting diversity within our committee by addressing the executive committee application process through our publications and with the assistance of Ellen Miller-Sharp. The result was 24 applications for 2 vacancies in the upcoming term; and,
  • Recorded and produced eight different instructional videos as part of our “Access to Justice” program.  The videos are now available on the Family Law Section CLA YouTube channel. The videos form the beginning of an instructional library available to assist self-represented parties in addressing issues commonly faced in family law matters.

I would, therefore, like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the FLEXCOM Family for supporting these efforts and making this term truly remarkable, not just due to our accomplishments but also because of the unity and cohesiveness that was demonstrated by all. And I would like to give a special thanks to our Section Coordinator Marla Castillo and Administrative Assistant Victoria Loeffler—their efforts are appreciated, respected, and vital to the operation and success of the Family Law Section.

Omne Trium Perfectum
Stephen D. Hamilton
Chair, Family Law Executive Committee of the
California Lawyers Association

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