University of Denver

Engaging the Family Bar to Shape a Better Justice System for Families

Former Senior Advisor, Honoring Families Initiative
Director of Special Projects

Honoring Families recently convened a diverse cross-section of the national family law bar, with the goal of identifying and discussing improvements to the system that would allow all practitioners to better serve clients and children. Part of the DIAALOGUES series of convenings at IAALS, the Family Bar Summit: Shaping the System for the Families We Serve challenged participants to shed preconceived notions about the system and engage in forward-thinking discussion on various aspects of the family justice system:

  • The role of the family law attorney
  • Legal education of future family law attorneys
  • Triage and differentiated case management
  • Litigation management and cost containment
  • Informal, expedited, and summary domestic relations trials
  • Self-represented litigants
  • Innovations in legal services delivery models
  • Judicial review of divorce agreements

Working groups and interactive discussion highlighted opportunities for changes in legal system processes and overarching culture changes, in the interests of creating a system that best serves clients and their children in a timely, efficient, and affordable manner—and in a manner that enables better outcomes for children. 

Summit attendees were encouraged to think about implementation and concrete steps that can be taken to achieve meaningful change. IAALS Executive Director Rebecca Love Kourlis noted:

“This is how change happens, it’s small groups of committed people who come together with a vision and a common purpose—and go out and start to make things work.”

The Honoring Families Initiative will publish a post-Summit report containing recommendations and innovations that incorporate the perspective of a strong and more cohesive family bar.

Mentioned Content 
In November 2015, IAALS held a convening of thought leaders from a cross-section of the family law bar, and who are representative of the practice and broader community, to leverage the bar's expertise to better serve clients and their children.Read More