Family Law Section Annual Report 2014-2015
The Steering Committee of the D.C. Bar Family Law Section (the section) is pleased to submit the 2014-2015 Annual Report on the activities of our section.
The section provides its members and other family law practitioners with a variety of multi-disciplinary educational programs through brown bag lunch events and evening programs. Since January 2014, the section provided evening programs on the following topics: "Basic Immigration Law for the Family Law Practitioner"; "The Child Support Guideline: Above or Below the Presumptive Order Amount"; and "Non-Family Areas of Law Every Family Law Practitioner Should Know." The section has continued to provide exceptional evening programs on a monthly basis beginning in September 2014. Some of the programs offered will be: "Different Approaches to Resolving Family Law Issues"; "Intersection of Child Abuse and Neglect Law with Domestic Relations Law"; "Sharpening Your Family Lawyer Tool Kit"; "Calculating Alimony"; and "It's a Family Affair: Family and Criminal Law Issues."
The section also hosted monthly brown bag lunch events from January to May at the D.C. Superior Court on the following topics: "The Child as the Witness"; and "The Effect of Secondary Trauma". For the 2014-2015 Bar year, the section has hosted or will host the following brown bag lunch events: "Accessing the Unemployment Insurance System for Survivors of Domestic Violence"; "Assisting Unaccompanied Minors with Family Law Issues"; "CFSA Documentation and Evidence"; and the "ABCs of the ACA and its Impact on Family Law."
The section offers opportunities for the D.C. Superior Court Family Court bench, its members, and family law practitioners to interact with each other in a less formal setting by hosting Bench Bars by family law topic area: Abuse and Neglect, Domestic Relations and Domestic Violence. A Bench Bar is a program that allows judges and practitioners to discuss best practices, the implication of new laws, and ways to overcome challenges in the family law practice. Also, the section hosts an Annual Judicial Reception in honor of a judicial officer who has made a significant impact on the Family Court and the families and children of the District. The section hosted its Annual Judicial Reception on October 15, 2014 in honor of the Honorable Andrea Harnett, Magistrate Judge of the D.C. Superior Court Family Court. The section held its Abuse and Neglect Bench Bar on November 12, 2014. The section will continue to offer these programs during the remainder of the 2014-2015 Bar year.
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The section continues to provide support to a variety of programs and services in the community. Some section members volunteer time to the D.C. Superior Court Negotiator Program, Family Court Self-Help Center, the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program's Advice and Referral Clinic and the Youth Law Fair. In the Negotiator Program, section members mediate domestic relations cases when parties appear at court for the first time. In the Family Court Self-Help Center, section members provide legal information to pro se litigants on various domestic relations issues. At the Advice and Referral Clinic, section members provide legal advice on different legal issues such as but not limited to: bankruptcy, family law, and consumer protection.
The section also co-sponsored trainings and CLE workshops. The section co-sponsored the Family Court Self-Help Center training. The section continued, and will continue, to provide guidance and assistance to the updating of the D.C. Bar Practice Manual. The Manual was updated and republished earlier this calendar year.
During the 2013-2014 Bar year, the Bar granted the section approval to host community service drives. In December 2013, the section sponsored a hat, glove, and scarf drive for children residing in the District's D.C. General Family Shelter. In June 2014, the section sponsored a book drive for children whose families experienced domestic violence and receive services from DC SAFE.
For the current Bar year, the section submitted a request to sponsor the D.C. Superior Court Supervised Visitation Center Beautification Project. The Supervised Visitation Center provides supervised visitation services and a safe neutral location for visit exchanges. It is the hope of the section to collect items to make the center more welcoming and child-friendly.
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The section's membership numbers have held steady over the year. In the 2013-2014 Bar year, the section had a total of 543 members. The membership numbers have held consistent over the past Bar years. The section hopes to recruit more members during the second half of this Bar year as the membership dues are reduced by half-price.
Section members may still receive a family law section member mug. Section members may pick up a mug from the D.C. Bar office or at an evening event held at the Bar office, through June 30, 2015.
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The section is financially sound; even after the Dues Stabilization Fund adjustments transpired. Although, section programs continue to generate revenue, we must be mindful of the need to charge fees for programs where food and beverages are offered to offset the cost of those items.
The section plans to continue making donations to non-profit organizations. Last Bar year, the section made donations to the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program and the Youth Law Fair. The section will continue to make donations to these projects and to non-profit organizations.
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The section continued its role of working to make the Family Court more accessible which will result in successful outcomes for families and children. The section members participate on many court workgroups and committees which allows us to maintain open communication with the bench.
The section received approval to serve as the monitor of the Family Court's ADR List. Specifically, the section will update the ADR list by contacting attorneys on the current list to confirm their contact information and availability to accept cases from the Domestic Relations calendars.
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Lastly, the section was selected to host a Listserv e-mail list for its members. The Listserv e-mail list is used by members to share legal ideas, information about opportunities and to inquire about legal strategy. Members are encouraged to use the Listserv e-mail list as often as possible.
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