PASSING THE GAVEL
The CSDA Legal Practices Committee held its last meeting of 2017 on November 16 & 17, 2017. The November meeting is the annual business meeting for the Committee, at which time the meeting schedule for the next year is established. The 2018 meeting schedule can be found on the Committee page on the CSDA website: https://csdaca.org/committees/legal-practices-committee/. The Committee Charter also provides that this meeting is the time for the selection of the Chair and Vice Chair for the coming year. In past years this activity merely resulted in affirming the existing Chair and Vice Chair to serve for another year: me as the Chair and Terry Symens-Bucher, Managing Attorney of Alameda County, as the Vice Chair. The primary responsibilities of the Vice Chair are to assume the duties of the Chair in the Chair’s absence, and to plan and facilitate the Managing Attorney Forums.
This year, however, resulted in changes in leadership, as the incumbents are passing the gavel. Jeff Schroer, Supervising Attorney in Kern County, was selected as the Chair for 2018; and Gina Johnston, Supervising Attorney in San Joaquin County, was selected as Vice Chair. Both were the unanimous choice of the LCSA members of the Committee and both have made significant contributions to both LPC and the legal program as a whole.
It is appropriate at this juncture to look back on the work which Terry and I have had the honor to perform with the members of the Committee and with the managing and line attorneys in the program over the years. LPC itself was formed in the summer of 2006 with the following mission, as stated in its initial Charter:
To promote uniformity of legal practices throughout the LCSAs and the Courts, to make available a forum for discussion and resolution of issues in the LCSA Legal Community, and to provide legal support for our State’s automation efforts, resulting in uniform practices and improved relationships with the Courts and case participants to the benefit of the child support program.
The Charter has been revised six times since the first Charter, and it now represents an expansion of its membership – which now includes State and Judicial Council participation – and of its purposes:
To promote uniformity of legal practices throughout the IV-D community of local child support agencies, State Department of Child Support Services and IV-D courts, to make available a forum for discussion and resolution of legal issues in the IV-D community, and to provide input for continued development and maintenance of the Statewide automation system, resulting in uniform legal practices Statewide, improved relationships with the Courts and case participants to the benefit of the child support program.
While numbers do not tell anywhere near the whole story, they do reveal the degree of involvement and dedication of the many Committee members over the years. Ninety-three meetings of LPC have been held in the past 11 years, and Sixteen Managing Attorney Forums have been held since 2008. Issues with which the Committee have wrestled have covered the gambit from A (address verification) to Z (zero orders), and the Committee has published 12 E-Blasts or Communications, and has worked on a number of white papers. A major focus of the activities of both LPC and the Managing Attorney Forum through out the years has been how to provide the best support to child support attorneys: the primary discussion at Forum #1 was the role of the managing attorneys in the child support program, and the primary discussion point at the last Forum (#16) in October was a roundtable presentation of attorney training materials and methods. Interestingly, one of the most comprehensive documents prepared by LPC was a white paper titled The Role of the Attorney in California’s IV-D Program which was never published, but which had its beginnings in a survey at the Managing Attorney Forum in 2010. The survey was a comprehensive look at activities performed by both managing and line attorneys and included survey results from 19 LCSAs. Reviewing the paper after all these years, reminds me of the magnitude and importance of the work of the child support attorneys in the program, and it is in the support of that work that both Jeff and Gina will lead the Legal Practices Committee in the coming year. Terry and I are pleased to be succeeded by these two very able attorneys, and we wish them the best in those endeavors and will assist them in any way we can.