Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007
Family Law conference draws more than 160; concentrates on children
By Roberta Dimitriou
Roughly 160 members of the Massachusetts Bar Association gathered in the Berkshires over the weekend for the 17th annual Family Law Conference, which focused on serving the best interests of children entangled in family law cases.
Held at the Cranwell Resort, Spa & Golf Club in Lenox, the conference included panels on presenting or challenging clinical experts in child custody cases, financial planning for special needs children and the new standards for evaluative guardians ad litem.
Judge Paula M. Carey, recently sworn in as Chief Justice of Probate and Family Court, told the lawyers and judges present that she couldn’t think of a better way to start her tenure as chief than attending the conference.
Carey told the crowd that family law is fundamentally about helping families, and that they should be proud of the challenging work they do.
Conference organizers said they were thrilled by the turnout, which made the event the second-biggest conference the MBA has ever put on in the western part of the state. Fern L. Frolin, with Grindle, Robinson, Goodhue & Frolin in Wellesley and co-chair of the event, said this conference differed from past ones because the organizers tried to pick one theme and build the whole day around various topics relating to that theme.
The conference was capped with a lively judicial forum on parenting plans and custody arrangements, with seven Probate & Family Court judges participating in the panel.
Attorney Bryna S. Klevan said it was the judicial panel which she found the most helpful. “I loved the interchange between the judges,” said Klevan, of Klevan & Klevan LLP in Wellesley. “You get a real-world view of what to expect if you present a case before them.”
Frolin and others said parenting plans in particular are a hot topic around the country right now as traditional notions are being reexamined.
“It’s a reflection that families are changing and their roles in children’s lives are changing,” said Veronica J. Fenton, chairwoman of the conference and a Lenox-based attorney. “We have to reflect that.”
“Massachusetts likes to be on target with what is happening (in the rest of the country) and Mass. Bar in particular is a driving force in keeping Massachusetts up to date,” Frolin said.