Coming of Age
~Through Groner Award, MSBA Family Law Section honors
progress in field, past, present and future~
Nominations for the Beverly Groner Family Law Award are currently being sought
by MSBA's Family Law Section. The award, in its fifth year, is bestowed upon
an individual who has served the Maryland legal community through his or her
dedication to the practice of family law, exemplifying the highest professional
standards during a distinguished career.
The award was conceived during Leslie Billman's tenure as Chair of the Family
Law Section Council. "The original intent was to bring recognition to someone
who has significantly advanced the development of Family Law in the state of
Maryland," explains Billman. "An essential quality is one of distinguished
service to the family law community, whether through education, service on
the Bench, in the Bar, or even in politics to craft and promote family law
The process of gathering the nominees is quite lengthy and complex. First
potential nominees are identified through ballots and resumes submitted by
various members of the Family Law Section Council; a subcommittee reviews the
nominations and narrows down possible contenders. Finally, once the field has
been tightened, the Section Council votes on the nominees in a May meeting.
"All the recipients of this award have contributed extraordinarily to the
area of Family Law," notes Billman. "They have given generously of their time,
that of their families and often of their law firms to serve family law in
some significant positive way. We do not want these extraordinary sacrifices
to go unheralded."
The award, which will be presented at the 2006 MSBA Annual Meeting in June,
is not presented exclusively to practicing lawyers. The first recipient was
Retired Judge Katie O'Ferrell Friedman, a circuit court judge; the following
year, Retired Judge John F. Fader, III, characterized as a "Family Law Scholar" by
current Family Law Treasurer Cindy Callahan, was presented with the award for
his efforts in the drafting of the Maryland family practitioner's bible, the
Family Law Handbook; Maryland Senator Sharon Grosfeld was the next recipient
for her "legislative efforts for Family bills and laws," according to Callahan;
and, last year, Honorable Julia Weatherly took the award for her contributions
to, and unbounded energy in, statewide family law activities and programs.
Devised to showcase leaders within Family Law, the honor was named after
Beverly Groner, a prominent family law practitioner and a key player in the
research and drafting of the Maryland Marital Property Act, which became effective
in the early 1980s. The Act radically changed the disposition of marital issues
upon divorce and provided the legal structure upon which today's family law
cases are resolved.
"The practice of Family Law changed as a result of Beverly Groner's concerted
efforts and contributions," says Billman, who cites Groner as a "pioneer" during
the coming of age of modern family law in Maryland. Groner passed away in December
of 2003, shortly after the inaugural award was conferred on Judge Friedman.
Today, Groner's family members remain closely involved in the awarding process.
Whether the Marital Property Act and Alimony Law were the cause or effect
of the societal change in the early '80s, the undeniable fact is that Groner's
contributions were pivotal to the practice as conducted in the state of Maryland
| The MSBA Family & Juvenile Law Section is accepting
nominations for the 2006 Beverly Groner Family Law Award through April
28, 2006. Send nominations to Beverly Groner Family Law Award Committee,
c/o Mary Roby Sanders, Turnbull & Sanders, P.A., 29 W. Susquehanna
Avenue, Suite 202, Towson, Maryland 21204, or e-mail Mary@turnbullandsanders.com.