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Family Law

Message from the Chair

Giving Back

One of the ongoing messages coming from the State Bar, the California Supreme Court, and the California Lawyers Association is giving back to the community. Some of you do that through your work in the public sector or for non-profits. Others contribute to their communities through social organizations independent of the legal practicing. Continuing with my theme of three, this month’s chair message addresses three ways you can give back to your community.

Volunteering to Help Litigants at a Local Level

Whether it is working with local shelters, domestic violence groups or free legal clinics, we have been charged by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye with promoting and facilitating access to justice. That means helping those who cannot hire private counsel in filing pleadings and participating in court proceedings. For its part, FLEXCOM has recently recorded self-help videos on a variety of topics with the goal of having the videos available via a FLEXCOM YouTube channel. More information will follow on that project. 

Volunteering as a Mentor

Mentoring in family law is an infrequently practiced art.  Like many of you, I started as a solo practitioner who taught myself family law with guidance from family law treatises and by attending as many continuing education events as I could. However, a successful family law attorney has to know more than just law and procedure – fulfilling the “counselor at law” aspect of our profession is equally important. And that is an area that requires guidance and mentoring.  For those who are employed by family law firms, the opportunity for guidance and mentoring is present. I would like to see our profession develop a mentoring system for those who do not work in a firm environment. If you have any thoughts on the subject, I would greatly appreciate your input and comments.

A Specific Opportunity to Contribute

I was recently forwarded a request from the California Association of Youth Courts. They are seeking help in protecting and continuing the 2019 Annual Youth Summit where youths, attorneys, bench officers, and court administrative personal meet and utilize using restorative justice principles to address “low-level” juvenile cases. One of their main goals is to address the school-to-prison pipeline by addressing truancy, community, and school citations and assisting youth getting back on a better path. The message below comes from CAYC and their appeal for support.

Current budgetary constraints threaten the existence and evolution of youth courts. You can help improve young lives and keep kids out of prison. From now through May 2nd, join the California Association of Youth Courts in honoring Law Day (May 1st) and supporting youth courts, consistent with the vision of our Chief Justice:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n2if-xdYgo

Furnishing due process for kids through trials by their peers outside of the traditional judicial system fills a void between school processes and formal adjudications which fuel the school-to-prison pipeline. Youth courts decrease youth truancy, crime, and recidivism (7% youth court vs. 70% CDCR). They are crucial in facilitating healthier, law-aiding lives, and enhanced public safety, as envisioned by Governor Newsom and our new Surgeon General, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris.

ACT NOW to help protect justice for youth by youth. Click here: www.tinyurl.com/cayc2019 and then click on DONATE NOW. Please give generously.

For more information about the California Association of Youth Courts and the 80 youth courts with 3,000 participants throughout the state, visit www.calyouthcourts.com. The California Association of Youth Courts is a charitable non-profit 501 [c][3] organization.

Omne Trium Perfectum

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

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