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July 19, 2023 From the Chair

Navigating Change Together

Thad F. Woody

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
—Winston Churchill

Adapting to an ever-changing world is something we do often as family law attorneys. The legal definitions of family and the scientific means to create a family continue to advance in rapid real-time pace. Despite that, local court rules and state case law sometimes lag as jurisdictions wrestle the nuances of change in their own communities. Our practices were all forced to pivot and adapt over the past three years, arguably more than ever before, and most continue to do so.

From our interactions and relationships with clients to the places and times we work each day to serve clients, our norms have all changed. Beyond the pandemic’s impact on our profession, we continue to navigate recent appellate opinions and developments that affect the handling of our cases and everyday practices, such as modern currency or NFTs. Although we do not know what changes in our profession might be on the horizon, we can be assured that there will be more; and our ability to adapt to those changes is essential for our success as family law attorneys.

The ABA Family Law Section (FLS) is certainly not immune to change. In fact, so much of what the FLS now provides its members is offered virtually, saving both time and money. Our younger lawyers expect opportunities to connect and learn remotely, and we have adapted our content accordingly. In-person conferences have always been a great resource for our members, and we hope to continue to provide those, just like our recent successful Spring CLE Conference in Las Vegas.

The reality is, however, that conference planning post-pandemic has taken on a whole new life. Our conference contacts tell us that conference attendance is down 20 percent around the country compared to pre-pandemic levels. FLS conference attendance has not declined as much as other ABA Sections or professional organizations, but we will continue to evolve and offer more variety than ever before as a Section to keep people connected in whatever form they prefer, whether that be in person or remotely.

The past year as Chair of this Section has been a true honor. I have worked hard with officers and staff to continue and improve the educational and advocacy opportunities that the ABA does best. I have enjoyed meeting and spending time with so many of you, and you have inspired me to be better at my own practice. What we do as a profession is hard and, at times, stressful; but having a network of fellow family law attorneys—like the one that your FLS membership provides—that shares your daily experiences and challenges is invaluable. And although the next change for our profession is unknown, what is known is that the ABA and FLS are here to help you navigate it . . . together.

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Thad F. Woody is Chair of the ABA Family Law Section and the executive partner with the law firm of Kessler & Solomiany, LLC in Atlanta. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Georgia State College of Law.