Family Law

Family Law News 2016, Issue 4, Volume 38, No. 4

Message from the Chair

David Lederman

Before starting this message, I took a walk down memory lane reviewing what my predecessors wrote. With uniformity, the first Message introduces the Family Law Executive Committee team, including each subcommittee and the subcommittee chairs. I will do that shortly, as it is an important feature of this message. The truth is that the work this Committee does requires a commitment of time and energy. The attorneys that donate their time and energy to these tasks should be acknowledged and appreciated.

2017 is the first full year that the sections are required to comply with the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act (OMA). This requirement took effect in April of 2016 and luckily, we had a chair, Vanessa Kirker-Wright, who recognized the challenges facing us and developed a plan. I get to build on that plan and draw on her experience, as she will continue to serve the State Bar as an advisor. The Open Meeting Act, as far as the Family Law Section is concerned, applies to any congregation of a majority of members of a body at the same time and place to hear, discuss, or deliberate on an item that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the State body to which it pertains. This includes subcommittees of members in excess of two individuals. "Meetings" includes emails (which can’t even be forwarded to more than a quorum) and other electronic forms of communication. All meeting locations must be posted at least ten days prior to the meeting. If it’s a video or phone conference, we need to post the location of each participant, which would include a committee member or other volunteer’s living room if that is where the member intended to call from.

We used to be able to have impromptu video conferences and voice calls to discuss pending legislation as needed. That is no longer possible. All of the members of the Executive Committee are volunteers that donate hundreds of hours a year to the committee in areas of continuing legal education, legislation, affirmative legislation, editing scholarly publications, and mentoring. All of these activities help the Bar meet its obligation to improve attorney competence and increase the quality of lawyering throughout the state. We are not a trade organization, and our efforts at commenting on legislation or proposing affirmative legislation are intended to help the public and improve the body of laws and systems that impact the public through the family court. It is unfair to require our members to open their homes and offices to the public as a price for their volunteerism. However, we may still need to do so if the need arises.

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