January 2009

Section News

Spring Meeting Registration Opens
You've clamored and begged, and now we can tell you: registration for the highly anticipated ABA Section of Family Law Spring CLE Meeting is now open! You'll want to secure your discount, so be sure to register by March 23rd to get a good savings.

Join us in Baltimore this April 22-25 to gain CLE credits, meet other family law practitioners from across the country, and become more involved in Section activities.

Our CLE committee has worked hard to bring you outstanding programs ranging from alimony to reasonable compensation to ethics. Some of our programming is also being produced in cooperation with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, so you won't want to miss out on that. And if you're interested in assisted reproductive technology issues, there's even a special track of ART programming that includes basic and advanced courses.

When you register, don't forget to sign up for our special event on Friday, April 24th, an Evening at the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards. We'll also have a special Welcome Reception on Thursday, April 23rd, at Host Committee Co-Chair Herb Belgrad's Firm, Tydings & Rosenberg. And there's also a newcomers' dinner on Thursday, too. More information about these events is available on the Conference website.

Visit the Conference website

Section Elections at Annual Meeting
The Section of Family Law will meet July 31-August 2, 2009, in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL. Section leadership elections will take place at the meeting.

Slated nominees are:

Officers: Debra Lehrmann (Chair-Elect); Randall Kessler (Vice Chair); Maryann Foley (Secretary); Timothy Walker (Section Delegate).

Council: Jean Crowe (At Large); Barton Resnicoff (At Large); Karl Topor (At Large); Linda Ravdin (Region II); Noel Tucker (Region IV).

We will soon be posting brief bios and pictures of the nominees on our website so you can get to know them a bit better. In the meantime, congratulations to our nominees, and thank you to our Nominating Committee (Steven Peskind; Dianna Gould-Saltman; William Biviano; Don Schiller; and Mitchell Karpf, Committee Chair) and all of the Section members who offered their nominations!

Sharon Corbitt Award
Newly created by the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence, in honor of Sharon Corbitt, this award recognizes service by lawyers from all areas of practice, including non-profits, large firms, solo practitioners, corporate counsel, and judges who demonstrate exemplary service to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and/or stalking.

Sharon was an active member of the ABA (and a Past Chair of the Family Law Section) and was recognized as an outstanding lawyer by all who knew or worked with her. In honor of her exemplary professional and personal contributions to victims of domestic violence throughout her career, this award will recognize a lawyer each year who embodies her spirit and dedication.

Nominations for the Sharon Corbitt award are now being accepted.

Download flyer for more details

Deadline: May 31, 2009

Call for Abstracts
32nd National Juvenile and Family Law Conference

The National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) will be holding its 2009 annual conference August 19-22, 2009, at the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. The Family Law Section is one of the cooperating organizations, and there will be a family law track at the conference.

The NACC is now soliciting abstracts for the concurrent sessions, and the NACC waives the conference registration fee for speakers.

Submit your abstract online

Deadline: February 15, 2009

Volunteers Needed to Speak at Law Student Spring Meetings
Between February 14, 2009 and March 7, 2009, the Law Student Division will host 15 Circuit Spring Meetings at law schools across the country so law students in their region can learn about the scope of the profession and begin building a foundation with ABA for their future legal careers. These spring meetings provide an opportunity for students to network with attorneys, attend substantive programming, experience first-hand what the ABA Law Student Division can offer them and what the ABA offers once they become attorneys.

If you would like to volunteer to serve as a speaker and attend networking mixers with law students, please consider applying (see link below). Meeting locations and the sign-up form are available online from the link below. Spending a couple of hours on a Saturday with law students is a great way to share your professional experiences, as well as demonstrate how your association with the ABA has helped you succeed and grow in the profession!

More information

Special Feature

Insights from a Veteran of Divorce
This month, the Section is privileged to provide its members with the insights of Joseph N. DuCanto, a founding partner of the law firm of Schiller, DuCanto and Fleck, whose expertise extends beyond the family law arena into tax and financial matters. Apart from Joe's extensive credentials (including National Past President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers) and over 50 years of service to our profession and our practice, he possesses a rare breed of common sense and insight from which we can all benefit. -- Anita Ventrelli, Chair

Business Sense
by Joseph N. DuCanto

It is a truism that not all "good" family law cases arise in our own backyard. Often cases from jurisdictions other than our own can be of inestimable help thinking through an active case on our desk, or educate us to a different approach than we had heretofore utilized. Following is a discussion of a recent Illinois case In re the Marriage of Bratcher, 338 Ill.App.338 (4th Dist. 2008) 890 N.E. 2d 1232; 322 Ill. Dec. 313), which contains about as puzzling a mélange of divorce, legal, and financial issues as can be found in any complex business-divorce.

Continue reading article "Business Sense"

Law Student Corner

Schwab Essay Contest Call for Entries
Show us you've got the "write" stuff by entering the Howard C. Schwab Memorial Essay Contest!

Just pick a topic in the field of family law, get about 5,000 words down, and you're done. (That's about 25 double-spaced, typewritten pages including footnotes. Don't go overboard; we disqualify entries over 28 pages.)

If you win, we'll tell your Dean, you'll likely be published in Family Law Quarterly (and on the Family Law website), and you'll get a nifty certificate, too.

This contest is open to all law students, not just those who are Section of Family Law members, so feel free to spread the word and mention it at your study group. The more entrants we have, the better you can feel about winning.

More information about the contest--rules, eligibility, etc.--is available at the Schwab website.

Deadline for entries: April 3, 2009


Confronting Mental Health Evidence: A Practical Guide to Reliability and Experts in Family Law
John A. Zervopoulos, Ph.D., J.D.

Product Code 5130156

Confronting mental health issues and materials in family law cases is often confusing, and, at times, daunting. This analytical and thoughtful book will provide you with a practical guide by which to address the key question to mental health professionals, "How do you know what you say you know?" and effectively challenge these experts' work and opinions.

More information

To order today, call the ABA Service Center at 800-285-2221 and request Product Code 5130156 or order online.

Buy Now!


Best of the List Serve

This month's Best of the FamLawEsq includes issues regarding support payments between spouses living together; reimbursement of overpaid spousal support; the Hague Convention (child abduction); and tips on closing letters.

Read more about this month's topics. (You will need to log in to the ABA website.)

Not on the list? All of our lawyer members are encouraged to join this popular discussion list. Read more about How to Join FamLawEsq in the Members Only section of our website.

CLE Calendar

Call for CLE Proposals
Deadline: February 6, 2009

Want to propose a CLE session for our 2009 Fall CLE Conference in Montreal? Just fill out the form and return it to us by Friday, February 6th. Also, it's never too early to start working on getting your passport. (Join us October 7-11 at the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure. Details forthcoming.)

March 4, 2009
Financial Planning & Cash Flow

This course will detail several financial planning considerations in divorce, including the lump sum payouts versus future income streams; the tax issues in divorce; handling the marital residence; managing retirement plans; investment considerations; various insurance challenges regarding health, long term disability, life insurance and more. Learn about the factors and elements in the cash flow projections that each party should consider to assist in determining the short-, mid- and long-term effects of potential settlements.

More information will be online soon.

May 2009
Immigration and Family Law

June 2009
How to Develop an ART Practice

Family Law Spring Conference
April 22-25, 2009
Hilton Baltimore
Baltimore, MD

Join us for the spring meeting, where we'll be delivering a slate of CLE programming sure to fit your needs. Some of the programs will be produced in cooperation with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Sessions will focus on a variety of topics such as international law, ethics, law practice management, marital property, alternative dispute resolution, domestic violence, child support, alimony, custody, and more.

For more information about the meeting--CLE topics, events, hotel/airport information, and online registration-- please visit the Conference website.

(Registration is open, and don't forget to reserve your hotel room now to lock in the discounted rate!)

We look forward to seeing you in Charm City in April!

23rd Annual ABA Family Law Trial Advocacy Institute
May 16-23, 2009
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Denver, CO

Our sellout course promises to make you a better trial lawyer in just one week! Registration is now open, and there's a discount for ABA Family Law Section members. For more information, see column at right, or visit the TAI website.

Stay up-to-date on CLE offerings with our CLE Calendar.

Unable to attend a teleconference or a Section CLE conference? Not to worry, you can learn on your own time when you purchase the CLE materials.
See a listing of available CLE materials

AICPA Corner

A column by members of the AICPA's Forensic and Valuation Services Section
This month's column looks at recapturing alimony.

   —This month's contribution is from Tracy Farryl Katz, Esq., CPA (Los Angeles, CA) tkatz@gursey.com

Read this month's AICPA Corner: Recapturing Alimony (You will need to log in to the ABA website.)

Tech Corner

Voice Over Internet Protocol:
To VoIP or Not to VoIP

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) was initially touted as a revolutionary way to make and receive free and low-cost phone calls over the Internet. However, despite the initial hype, some technology pundits are now referring to VoIP as mere plumbing and are focusing on the actual services provided--it may not matter whether your phone system is VoIP or not VoIP as long as you are getting quality, reliable service and features at a price you can live with.

There are many factors that you should examine when considering whether VoIP might be right for your firm; three main factors are cost, features, and reliability. Comparing some VoIP and non-VoIP offerings from Vonage (VoIP : Small Business Premium Unlimited Plan), Packet8 (VoIP: Unlimited Extension Business Services plan), Comcast (sort of VoIP: Digital Voice for Business), and AT&T (non-VoIP: 4 to 16 line phone systems with Unlimited Local and Long Distance for Business), it becomes clear that each firm will have to weigh the various factors on a case-by-case basis.

Cost and Reliability
As opposed to the simplicity, high quality, and usual reliability of e-mail as a communication medium (which may explain its high adoption among attorneys), VoIP has sometimes struggled with issues of complexity, low-quality calls, and unreliable service. Ultimately, your law practice is a business and having reliable communications technology is of paramount importance to any business. With VoIP you will have to pay for a business class VoIP plan in order to get any kind of reliability and customer support--do not harbor any fantasies of "free" internet phone lines for incoming calls with your business at stake (for example, Skype does not even have a customer support phone number to contact in case your service goes awry)--and such business class VoIP plans may not be much cheaper, if at all, than non-VoIP phone plans.

On the subject of reliability, make sure that your VoIP phones and routers all have battery power backups so that you can still use your phones in case of power outages--unlike many types of non-VoIP phones, VoIP phones can become unusable without electricity in power outages. Also make sure that calls will be forwarded to your cellphone in the case of other types of VoIP system outages so that you don't miss any important, time-sensitive phone calls.

In terms of cost, an area where business VoIP plans may save your firm money is on international phone calls to landlines. Non-VoIP and VoIP business plans both usually offer unlimited local and domestic long distance calls for similar monthly flat rates. However, business VoIP plans may offer cheaper international rates to landlines than non-VoIP plans--assess the types of phone calls your firm makes to see which plans offer you the best rates. If the bulk of your international calls are to cell phones, you may not see any savings on international calls by using a VoIP plan.

Another area where business VoIP plans may save you money is in adding new lines and moving lines around an office. For example, if your firm is planning on reorganizing space, moving offices, or growing in the foreseeable future, setup and maintenance fees may cost less if you're using VoIP phone systems.

Many business VoIP phone plans include hosted PBX features such as auto attendant, call forwarding, and call transfer that used to require expensive on-premises PBX systems, as well as other services such as unified messaging--these services can all help streamline communications and increase your firm's productivity. Many of these features can now also be used with non-VoIP phones without on-premises PBX systems--however, you may need to pay additional fees for these features, whereas you might not with some typical VoIP phone plans.

For example, certain 4 to 16 line AT&T phones are not VoIP phones but have many PBX-type features such as auto attendant and call transfer built-in--however, adding certain other features will require extra monthly fees, such as call forwarding (around $7.50 per month according to a sales call) and unified messaging (around $20 per month according to a sales call). Depending on what features you want and how many phone lines your office needs, the cost of paying for such additional features can add up with non-VoIP plans, whereas they would be included in the flat monthly fee with VoIP plans.

You will need to investigate everything on a case-by-case basis; for example, Comcast does not currently offer an auto-attendant feature for its Comcast Business Digital Voice plans--however, many VoIP phone services such as Comcast's and Vonage's supposedly work with any typical phone model, so you could perhaps pair Comcast's service with the AT&T phones mentioned above to get the features you want.

For some plans, such as Packet8's Virtual Office business system, you may have to buy specific phone equipment which may cost upwards of $100 per phone. Be sure to research and weigh the three factors of cost, reliability, and features carefully before making your final decision.

Some companies provide a 30-day money-back trial period which you can use to test out their phone systems in order to get an idea of whether they might be a good choice for your firm. If you decide to test out a new phone system you'll want to keep your old phone system intact during the testing period in case you decide not to switch. If you decide to switch to a new system, check to see if you can retain your old phone numbers.

Contrary to some of the hype surrounding the early days of VoIP, for the most part there are no phone systems which provide easy, reliable, and free incoming and outgoing phone calls over the Internet for businesses. Your firm will have to carefully weigh factors such as cost, reliability, and features when deciding on whether to switch to VoIP or from a non-VoIP system or not. And as some VoIP pundits have remarked, VoIP is like plumbing, meant to work unseen in the background--you may not have to worry about whether your phone system is VoIP or non-VoIP as long as you get the right balance of cost, reliability, and features for your firm's phone system.

   —Stephen Stine, ABA Legal Technology Resource Center

Ask Us! Is there a technology question that's been on your mind? Ask us about it! We may answer your question in a future edition of the eNewsletter. If there's some other technology you would like us to investigate, just e-mail glazerh@staff.abanet.org. Keep the Tech Corner working for you!



23rd Annual ABA
Family Law Trial Advocacy Institute

What is it?
It's the preeminent trial training program for family law practitioners. If you want to become a better lawyer and learn from the best, make plans to attend this year's Institute in Denver, CO.

The Institute can only accommodate 48 lawyers, so sign up to guarantee your spot today!

What will I learn? You'll not only gain confidence litigating family law cases, but you'll also learn to:

  • Argue motions effectively;
  • Cross examine mental health experts;
  • Cross examine financial experts; and
  • Prepare witnesses for trial.
You'll also learn business valuation principles and how to try a case to conclusion!

Who's going to teach me all this?
We've assembled highly experienced, well respected famiy law professionals to serve as our faculty. Their job--and they do it well--is to provide you with indispensable and invaluable training. Our attorneys, judges, and financial and psychological experts are the cream of the crop, and you can read more about their credentials here.

How do I know this Institute is any good?
Just ask alums of our 2008 Trial Advocacy Institute...they're the ones who can tell you more:

"This program not only made me a better trial lawyer, it made me a better lawyer period." --John Thurston (Manhattan, KS)

"Exceptional faculty working closely with us through key aspects of the trial experience--I would highly recommend it." --Paige Quilliam (Niantic, CT)

"The course improved my knowledge and my confidence. I would recommend it to lawyers at all experience levels."--John Adam Lazor (Los Angeles, CA)

Still not convinced? We have more testimonials on file at the TAI website.

Ok, how do I register?
Just visit the TAI website for more information. Don't forget, you get a discounted registration fee just for being an ABA Section of Family Law member.


Hilary Glazer
Please send proposals for future content submissions to the editor.

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