Family Planning a Collective Effort
On Friday, June 15, while judiciary officials and attorneys from across the
state attend the numerous events presented at the Joint Bar/Bench Conference
(or explore Ocean City, Maryland’s various amusements), Family and Juvenile Law
practitioners will be gathered in the Clarion Hotel’s Banquet Hall #2-A for a
time of reflection and remembrance.
From 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., members of the MSBA Family & Juvenile Law
Section, as well as other attorneys, bench leaders and interested parties will
convene for Maryland’s Family Divisions After Nine Years, a retrospective of
the Family Law-based divisions within the Maryland Court structure following
its initial nine-year expedition. The Section’s program will present a live
discussion between the attendants and the panel of family law administrative
judges; topics in the discussion will include current services and programs
available, the changes the divisions have brought to Maryland’s family law
cases and ways to improve the system.
With this year being a Joint Bar/Bench Conference, the Section has capitalized
on this “different dynamic” by incorporating the judges in as many ways as
possible. The dialogue will be moderated by the Honorable Kathleen O’Ferrall
Friedman (retired), as the panel will exhibit a statewide bevy of judges,
including Judge Audrey J. S. Carrion, Circuit Court of Baltimore City; Judge
Diane O. Leasure, Circuit Court for Howard County; Judge John O. Hennegan,
Circuit Court for Baltimore County; and Judge Julia D. Weatherly, Circuit Court
for Prince George’s County.
“We have a terrific panel of judges,” says Program Chair and Section
Chair-Elect, Marc B. Noren. “Many, if not all, are recognized as leaders in
The Section’s program traditionally offers a blend of education and
entertainment during their two hour presentation, and this year is no
different. “Show Me the Case,” which features the “Million-Dollar Judgment
Dancers,” showcases the audience members’ knowledge of case law as they compete
for prizes. Other typical facets of the program, such as the presentation of
the Beverly Groner Family Law Award and the Legislative Update, will be
featured this year.
“I think we provide a great balance of humor and education,” states Section
Chair Stacy E. LeBow Siegel, who has been involved with the Section for
approximately seven years. “A conglomeration of Section Council members and
participants work cohesively to come up with new, educational and fun topics.”
Over the years, this program has developed a reputation as being the “hot
ticket” as far as presentations are concerned, due to its entertaining features
and the relatable topics. Last year’s program, discussing alimony, featured
opinions on the topic by various Special Court of Appeals Judges and was one of
the most heavily-attended meetings. People overflowing from the seats and
attorneys filing at the back of the conference room are common occurrences year
in and year out. Though Siegel had no reservations this year about the Section
providing an “educating, entertaining and well-received” program, she did admit
to feeling pressure during the initial planning stages.
“How are we going to top that?” was a recurring question for Siegel. However,
she was able to rely on the Section Council to lend support.
“We have a really creative Council,” notes Siegel. “We start bantering around
ideas and brainstorming until something is developed.”