Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : May 2007

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  SECTION SPOTLIGHT  

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 Family Law.”

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.”

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: May 2007