Family Law Section to propose ‘unbundled services’ rule

first_imgFamily Law Section to propose ‘unbundled services’ ruleFor its luncheon at the recent Bar Annual Meeting, the Family Law Section featured motivational speaker Giovanni Livera on the theme “Anything is Possible.” With its schedule of activities for the coming year, the section apparently took that message to heart. Upcoming projects include a range of legislative issues, proposing a rule change on fees in family law cases to help moderate and low income litigants, and a wide range of seminars and CLE programs, according to new section Chair Norman Levin. The section has been studying pro se cases which are overwhelming courts and how Bar rules affect that, Levin said, and the section is getting ready to offer some solutions. “We are working on a proposal for submission to the Bar for a rule change to allow different types of fees for family lawyers, to increase the availability of lawyers to people who are currently not able to get representation,” he said. “One of the issues is a proposal called unbundling of legal services, and in our area one of the problems that exists is that if a lawyer gets involved in a family law case, he’s basically stuck in it. He can’t come in and handle a hearing for someone and then leave a case. “We have propounded proposals for rule changes that will allow what is called unbundling so that people can go and get services from lawyers and not have to have these huge fee bills. There are other areas for fee considerations where this committee is going to be making a proposal as well.” The section’s legislative priorities start with securing adequate resources for the family law courts throughout Florida, Levin said. And the section is ready to participate in revisions of the child custody and support laws. The section first became interested in that issue about three years ago when a state House committee proposed a bill that the section considered flawed. Former section Chairs Jeff Wasserman and Ky Koch appointed an ad hoc committee to address the subject, and part of that effort was incorporated in SB 1284, which passed the last session. “Now the full major revision that we have been working on for two years is reaching a point where it may or may not come up in the legislature,” Levin said. “We are prepared to provide expertise and advice on that subject matter.” The section executive council, at its Annual Meeting gathering, voted to hire former state Sen. Fred Dudley, now the director of government relations for Akerman Senterfitt and Eidson, P.A., as its lobbyist. That contract must still be ratified by the Bar Board of Governors. On CLE, “We intend to continue the excellent education programs that we are famous for, which will include four major seminars, plus the certification review seminar, two retreat programs, the advanced family mediation seminar, and the annual family law legislative update,” Levin said. The executive council spent time working on plans for the two retreats. The first, called Retreat from the Heat, is set for December 6-11 at Beaver Creek, Colorado. The program, Levin said, will focus on responsible parenting in the 21st century and is intended to help family lawyers both in their personal lives and their practices. The seminar is being put together by section Secretary Evan Marks, a member of the Governor’s Commission on Responsible Fatherhood, and Dr. Deborah Day, a renowned child psychologist. Tentative plans are for the Colorado bar’s family law section to participate also. The second seminar will be May 16-18, 2002, at Sanibel. That gathering will feature seminars on improving management for family law offices, he said, and “the emphasis of that retreat will be rest and relaxation.” The section is also working to restructure its communications and publications operations. That, Levin said, involves the coordination and/or revamping of four operations, including the section’s quarterly newsletter, its articles for the Bar Journal, its online bi-weekly forum called FAMSEG and its website. FAMSEG is a particularly valuable publication, he said, because it can provide quick feedback for members, and he said 825 people subscribe to the online service. He said those interested in joining can contact section member Joe Hood at [email protected] Internally, the section combined its mediation and arbitration committees into a new Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, which includes review of collaborative lawyering. That’s a relatively new trend in family law, Levin said. And in addition to all of those activities, “We want to expand the breadth of our section this year, and we’re particularly looking to increase our minority membership,” Levin concluded. “There will be a major effort made in that direction.” July 15, 2001 Regular News Family Law Section to propose ‘unbundled services’ rulelast_img

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