In the inimitable words of Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” COVID-19 continues to impact us personally and professionally, Joseph Biden has been elected president and Kamala Harris will become the first woman and first woman of color to serve as vice-president, and the Family Law Section had its first-ever virtual meeting.
Our incredible staff, composed of Section Director Cindy Swan, Program Specialist Danielle Pruger, and Program Associate Casey Purcell, worked tirelessly to make the meeting a resounding and record-breaking success. Their energy and patience know no bounds. Without them, the meeting could not have been pulled off. As a result, we had more registrants than any other Fall Meeting in Section history!
During the Fall Meeting we had the opportunity to mix and mingle with one another while cooking, making cocktails, and being entertained. Another dynamic and diverse class of Fellows was welcomed to the Section, our substantive committees met throughout the week to review current issues in family law, and over forty speakers enhanced our knowledge on a range of cutting-edge topics in both family law and assisted reproductive technology. So as a Section, we have much to be proud of even as we continue to navigate very difficult times. It remains my sincere hope that we will be together for an in-person meeting at the La Quinta Waldorf in Palm Springs, California (June 16–19, 2021). The resort property is self-contained with tremendous outdoor space, casita style rooms entirely accessible from the outdoors, and 41 pools. A group of Section leaders are already working together with Section staff to plan for a safe and socially distant meeting. If that proves not to be possible, a strong foundation has been set for, and we will continue with, a virtual meeting. Please stay tuned.
This issue of Family Advocate focuses on health and wellness with articles discussing mental health, financial health, and work/life balance. It is certainly no secret that the career path we have chosen, while rewarding, is often very demanding and stress-inducing. Identifying ways to process and cope is critical. Dr. Bill Hettler, of the National Wellness Institute, defined six components to wellness: physical, intellectual, occupational, social, emotional, and spiritual. The ABA Family Law Section’s Health and Wellness Committee is dedicated to bringing awareness to mental and physical issues that affect the quality of life of family law attorneys in particular. As we ring in this New Year, please make sure to check out the Committee’s landing page, where you will find a host of tips and tricks on topics ranging from diet and mental fitness to easy office meditation and phone and social media detox. Most importantly, remember to take time out for yourself. Pursue areas of interest or passion, whether through exercise, the arts, or giving back to the community.
I would be remiss if I did not address the recent passing of Maurice Kutner, a past Section chair (1997–1999) and one of my mentors within the Section. He was a true lion of the Bar. My first interaction with Kutner (as he always introduced himself) was in a Sponsorship meeting, where one of the participants kept talking about what couldn’t be done. When this person was finished, Kutner, in his own inimitable way, told her it was going to get done, exactly how it was going to get done, and he wasn’t interested in “no.” While working with him on CLE programs, I came to learn what a perfectionist he was. He cared deeply not only about teaching and educating younger lawyers but entertaining the crowd. He would always come off and ask, “How’d I do?” and in all my years involved in CLE he was the only attorney who without fail insisted on seeing his reviews. Over time, we also had opportunities to work together professionally. Being told by Kutner that “you were his guy” was the most supreme of compliments, and his loyalty was without bounds. In many ways the relationship I developed with him as a mentor, confidante, and friend is reflective of what I wish for every member of this Section. Engage in what the Section has to offer and I promise you will not be disappointed. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me personally at [email protected], and I will help get you involved at whatever level you are comfortable in whatever area(s) you have interest.
While we are not out of the woods yet with COVID-19, with positive news on the vaccine front there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Continue to be kind to each other, support one another, stay well, and stay safe.