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July 29, 2022 From the Chair

From the Chair: Changed for Good

Candace B. Peebles

I’ve heard it said

That people come into our lives for a reason

Bringing something we must learn

And we are led

To those who help us most to grow

If we let them

And we help them in return

Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true

But I know I’m who I am today

Because I knew you

One of my most favorite Broadway musicals is Wicked. The lyrics above from one of the main songs, “For Good,” speak to me on so many levels but not more so than as it relates to my experience with the ABA Family Law Section (FLS). This will be my final column serving as Chair of this amazing Section. I could not be prouder of the work we have done this year to continue the legacy left before me.

As I sit down to write, we have just completed our Spring CLE Conference in New Orleans. We had a wonderful time in this fun and vibrant city and were able to share laughs, smiles, and hugs with so many friends old and new. Life returning to some level of normalcy was just what so many of us needed. Obviously, COVID-19 and its evolution are far from over, but I think we as a Section have continued to adapt to the new challenges of moving forward in a post-pandemic world. I feel so incredibly blessed to have had two somewhat normal in-person meetings this year. Orlando was my first-ever meeting as a baby-lawyer coming to her first ABA meeting, and so being able to return there this past fall felt like what I can only describe as a magical full-circle kind of moment. This year was more than I could have ever dreamt of, and I am incredibly thankful and blessed to have shared it with all of you.

This past year, FLS’s publications, including books, Family Advocate, and Family Law Quarterly, continued to be shining examples of the scholarly work and intellectual achievements of FLS and its members and serve our membership in critical ways.

While so much has changed in our world over the last few years, one thing that remains constant for me is that friendship and collegiality among our peers will always be one of the most important parts of the work we do. As we all know, our work in family law most often brings us clients who, for the most part, are very good people who are going through one of the most traumatic times in their lives. Whether it be divorce or assisted reproductive law, we are helping clients navigate difficult paths in the separation of their family unit or trying to create a family through nontraditional methods. Oftentimes these cases can force us to have to be in more aggressive or difficult postures to properly protect our clients’ interests. I do find though that the older I get the more I realize that this work is not “who I am” and that continuing to maintain high standards of professionalism among our colleagues is really not negotiable for me. It’s sometimes easy to get wrapped up in each matter to such an extent that we lose sight of this. I know without a doubt that the relationships and friendships I have cultivated through my involvement with the FLS over the past 20 years have surely helped me to grow as an attorney and a person.

We look now toward our Annual Meeting in Chicago in August, where I will pass the baton to incoming Section Chair Thad Woody from Atlanta. Thad will surely lead FLS for the next year with great competence and enthusiasm. I would like to take a moment to also thank our amazing Section staff for all their tireless work this year. We are so blessed to have Cindy Swan, Danielle Pruger, and Ann Mullen as part of our team. We simply could not do a fraction of the work we do without their invaluable assistance.

I hope each of you will take some time to think about how you can utilize all of our programs and benefits to get more value out of your FLS membership. I can promise you that you will not regret it. You too will be “changed for good.” I hope each of you will not hesitate to reach out to me personally at [email protected]. I will be happy to help guide you and get you involved in wherever your passion leads you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit

As it passes a sun

Like a stream that meets a boulder

Halfway through the wood

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But

Because I knew you

I have been changed for good

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Candace (Candi) B. Peebles is Chair of the ABA Family Law Section and partner with and owner of Peeples Law, a boutique-styled practice focused in family law in Birmingham, Alabama.