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The Bar Bulletin
Jax Daily Record Monday, Nov. 6, 201706:45 AM EST

Hurricane Irma canceled annual family law CLE

Presenters were going to educate practitioners on the differences between temporary and concurrent custody, as well as the difference between domestication and registration of a foreign judgment.
by: Dyvonnda Thurston

Fletcher and Phillips

Each September, The Jacksonville Bar Association Family Law Section holds a family law CLE seminar. The goal of the seminar is to instruct, inform, educate — and hopefully, entertain — family law practitioners.

September 2016 was the first year that I, with a lot of help from others, had the pleasure of organizing the event. Rather than most CLEs, wherein one lawyer speaks to a group of lawyers about updated case law, Laura Giovannetti and I wanted to provide family law practitioners with information and advice from those who affect our practice.

Along with individual presenters, we had a mediator panel, a mental health professional panel and a judicial assistant panel. Giovannetti and I received positive feedback; however, in retrospect, we may have had too many panels.

Christie Guerrero and I began working on September 2017’s CLE in December 2016. We predicted that if we could quickly set the schedule and pin down most of the details, then we would be able to advertise the event, create some buzz, and hopefully, have more attendees than before.  

I am proud to say that by May 2017, with the assistance of Blane McCarthy and Carla Ortiz-Ramos, Guerrero and I were able to find presenters, create the schedule, secure a location and create a flyer for our event.

We had a fantastic event planned. We went back to the one-presenter format; however, we chose topics which were interesting and unique. Our topics ranged from competency and the mental health of our clients to tax consequences in a divorce (i.e., a discussion on capital gains and equitable distribution shortfalls).

We were scheduled to present an intermediate-to-advanced discussion of the hidden issues found in QDROs and Divorce Power Analyzer. Presenters were going to educate practitioners on the differences between temporary and concurrent custody, as well as the difference between domestication and registration of a foreign judgment.

Unfortunately, our CLE was scheduled at the Duval County Courthouse for the Friday after Hurricane Irma hit Jacksonville. We had to cancel the event.

As I look back on the planning of both of the CLE seminars, I realize that most of the people who were assisting me were fellow members of The Florida Family Law American Inn of Court. While I am rather new to the organization, it is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Our Inn started when Duval County Judge Gary Flower, Homer Bliss, Cindy Catalan and David Garfinkel began meeting monthly for dinner to discuss trends in the law and current cases.

Shortly thereafter, the group decided to become more formal. In May 1998, Circuit Judge Jean Johnson became our first president.

The Inn has adopted goals through which membership is an honor, members are encouraged to collaborate with each other, and members are provided with educational programs.

Ned Price is our current president. Under his leadership, the Inn continues toward its goal to help its members become better citizens. We are working to promote professionalism and legal education, and to become a beacon of civility for our local practitioners.

Most of our meetings qualify for CLE credit for the attendees.

Throughout the year, we work to support the community. Our members have made donations to domestic violence shelters, worked to improve and promote visitation centers, and have donated time to serve the less fortunate. Currently, the Inn is supporting those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.

All of our hard work is paying off. The Inn has reached Platinum Status, which is the highest possible level.

At the end of October, our president-elect, Circuit Judge John Guy, attended the Celebration of Excellence hosted by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. Guy attended a reception and an awards presentation, followed by dinner in the Great Hall of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

If you, or someone you know, would like more information about The Florida Family Law American Inn of Court, contact me.

Keep in mind that our members must maintain a caseload that is at least 50 percent family law.

I also would like to thank Zachary Alfant, Connie Byrd, Dr. Justin D’Arienzo, Suzanne Greene, Jay Henderlite, Michael Korn, Norman D. Levine, Josh Shilts, C.P.A, and Richard Tierney. While the world was unable to hear your presentations, I was privy to them all. Hopefully, one day your brilliant presentations will be heard.  


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