Our AAML Southern California Chapter presented its fifth annual Family Law Trial Basics Seminar in Costa Mesa on April 26, 2019. As always, it was free to all 100 attendees, who came from all corners of Southern California – and beyond. This year’s TBS was better than ever. I am honored to remain its Dean.
The AAML presents the TBS to reach out to our community, improve the skills of less-experienced family law lawyers and give back to our profession.
Each family law case has different needs. Our Fellows recognize the availability of various alternative courses of resolution. But we believe that if a case cannot be settled, then the consequence is that the courts are there to decide the issues. Our job is to be prepared to expertly litigate those cases to their logical ends.
Sharon Blanchet opened with an overview of pre-trial discovery planning and later spoke on refreshing recollections and judicial notice. Chris Melcher was clear and direct concerning the introduction of evidence, examination of witnesses, opening statements and other topics. Saul Gelbart handled order of proof and closing arguments. Bob Benavente taught cross-examination and introduction of written discovery into evidence. Jim Schaefer, CPA, discussed “Selling Your Case with Demonstratives.”
Gordon Cruse discussed motions in limine and electronic evidence. Sandy Mayberry spoke regarding hearsay and objections. Claudia Ribet spoke on post-trial motions and protecting the appellate record. I presented on expert witness management, direct examination and cross-examination.
California family law guru, Garrett Dailey, was his usual gracious and insightful self as our moderator. He also presented an in-depth overview regarding the use of deposition transcripts.
Justice Sheila Sonenshine (ret.) shared her great wisdom. It is earned from years trailblazing as a woman family law attorney, then Superior Court judge, then Appellate Court Justice. Judge Glen M. Reiser (ret.) joined us for his first TBS. At the day’s end, he gave his own comments and advice “from a judge’s perspective.”
A unique aspect of the TBS is that we combine the above “main event” seminar with a hand’s-on Practicum. It allows our attendees to practice the trial skills that they learned at the seminar. This year’s Practicum was held the following day, at UC Irvine’s School of Law. Chris and Sandy, as in prior years, coordinated and presented it, and attendance was better than ever.
In the five years that our Chapter has presented the TBS, we have educated nearly 500 young (in their practices) family law attorneys. HLG is proud to have initially developed the TBS from the ground-up, and we remain honored to continue to lead it.