Family Law Section

by Mitchell D. Broudy, chair

The Family Law Section is the third-largest section of the Virginia State Bar, and one of the most active. We began the year in July 2010 with 1,993 members. By May 2011, our section had grown to 2,003 members. The section continues to offer top-notch family law seminars. We also produce a much-sought-after newsletter four times a year, in both print and electronic format.

In October 2010, our section partnered with Virginia CLE to present its Annual Family Law Seminar in Fairfax, Richmond, Norfolk, and Charlottesville. Cassandra M.H. Chin, chair of continuing legal education, organized the seminar with Richard E. Garriott Jr. and William C. Scott IV. They are to be commended for their work. In November 2010, the section sent Dennis M. Hottell and Nan M. Joseph to Buenos Aires to speak on “Grandparent and Third-Party Custody and Visitation.” This continued a tradition of providing family law programming at the Virginia State Bar’s Midyear Legal Seminar.

In April 2011 our section cosponsored with Virginia CLE its Annual Advanced Family Law Seminar at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. During this seminar, the section presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Harrisonburg attorney Franklin R. Blatt. The award recognizes persons who have demonstrated excellence and integrity and made a substantial contribution to the practice of family law in Virginia. Frank Blatt has practiced for more than thirty years. In addition to earning a reputation as a skillful litigator, he was one of the first lawyers in his region to train in collaborative law, through which disputes are settled between parties outside the courtroom. The section also presented its Family Law Service Award to Lelia Baum Hopper of Richmond. This award recognizes people and organizations that have improved family, domestic relations, or juvenile law in Virginia. Lelia Hopper is the director of the court improvement project of the Supreme Court of Virginia’s Office of the Executive Secretary. She oversees development and implementation of best practices for managing and resolving cases involving child abuse, child neglect, and foster care.

In conjunction with the Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the Family Law Section recognized the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Virginia Court of Appeals with a resolution and a dinner at the Tobacco Company restaurant the night before the Twenty-Seventh Annual Advanced Family Law Seminar.

This year the Family Law Section produced four issues of our newsletter, the Family Law News, edited by Richard and John H. Crouch. Through the newsletter, they are the glue that keeps this section bound. Each issue contained well-written articles on family law topics and summaries of noteworthy family law cases decided by the appellate courts during the quarter. Each section member received a printed copy of the Family Law News, and copies also are available to section members on our website.

With the support of the Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, we continued our tradition of recognizing the outstanding family law graduates from each of the eight Virginia law schools. This award is presented annually to students who have demonstrated outstanding potential and interest in family law. The winners are selected by their law school faculty and at graduation are presented with a framed certificate and special-edition book provided by Thomson West.

The work of the section could not have been completed without the assistance of our VSB staff liaison, Dolly C. Shaffner, who maintained communication between board members and facilitated our meetings — especially those outside the bar office. Thanks to her for her assistance.

Section officers for 2011-12 are Frank W. Rogers III, chair; Cassandra M.H. Chin, vice chair; and Carl J. Witmeyer II, secretary.


Updated: Aug 18, 2011