Judge Renee Goldenberg Circuit Court Judge


To Substance: application of relevant law even if not mentioned

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To Substance: application of relevant law even if not mentioned




      1. explaining basis of ruling,




      1. refrain from use of legal jargon,




      1. questioning witnesses for clarification,




      1. freely allowing amendment of pleading,




      1. explaining matters such as burden of proof and the types of evidence which may or may not be presented.”



    1. Court orders must give pro se litigants clear guidance:




      1. “Much time and energy has been wasted in this case because of the pro se plaintiff’s ignorance of law and procedure and because of the lower court’s entry of an improper form of order. An order granting a motion to dismiss should either inform the plaintiff of the right to amend and the deadline for doing so or inform the plaintiff that there is no right to amend and that the cause is dismissed. The appealed order merely, ‘granted’ the appellee’s motion to dismiss the complaint.” (Brown v. Housing Authority of the City of Orlando, 680 So. 2d 620 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996)




      1. Supreme Court Fla Fam L R Form orders



  1. Rules of Professional Conduct and family courts, judges and lawyers





    1. Professionalism and Civility: No One is Happy




      1. Impact of FRPC [“. . . .the attorney wasted resources for the criminal justice system because the original hearing required the presence of the judge, defendant, and assistant state attorney and accomplished nothing. It also said he should have known his continuance motion was not self-executing. The attorney had an obligation to appear at the hearing. . . his decision not to attend the hearing regardless of the reason for doing so, is not acceptable. . . actions were harmful to the legal system and that such conduct cannot be tolerated by an officer of the court.” The Florida Bar News, March 1, 2015. “Lawyer No-Show at Hearing Earns Discipline.”]




      1. “I will employ for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided in me such means only as are consistent with truth and honor, and will never seek to mislead the judge or jury by any artifice or false statement of fact or law.”




        1. Artifice (def) “a fraud or cunning device used to accomplish some wrong; usually implies craftiness or deceitfulness”




      1. Lead judge to error: Lieberman v. Lieberman, 39 FLW D2457 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015)(Appellate attorney’s fees awarded as a sanction based on finding that wife’s counsel transformed “simple” matter into unnecessary and protracted controversy)


      1. Objectives and Scope of Representation FRPC 4-1.2 “lawyer shall abide by client’s decisions re: objectives, reasonably consult re: means by which they are to be pursued.





      1. Advisor FRPC 4-2.1 “In representing a client, a lawyer shall exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice. In rendering advice, a lawyer may refer not only to the law but to other considerations such as moral, economic, social and political factors that may be relevant to the client’s situation.”




    1. Professionalism and Civility: Anything Less Will Not Be Tolerated”: lawyers are not only frustrated by the Self Represented on One Side BUT ALSO BY OPPOSING LAWYERS




      1. Larger number of lawyers who are strangers to one another

      2. There are those who do not care about their reputation

      3. There are those who believe their reputation to be different than it is

      4. Zealous Advocate” sometimes translates into “churning”




    1. Grievances: Highest in Family Law

“Of the 10 most common malpractice and grievance complaints, eight don’t have anything to do with being a lawyer. It is organization, keeping an organized practice that does it right.” [Dustin Cole, president of Attorneys MasterClass, Florida Bar News, March 1, 2015, “Educating ‘Seasoned’ lawyers about their options.”]



    1. Complaints to the JQC: Highest in Family Law





  1. Family Court Judge ‘wish list”: hard when there are two lawyers on a case; harder still with a Self Represented on One Side




    1. civility and professionalism: “treat with respect even if do not deserve it.”




    1. communication




    1. efficiency and effectiveness




    1. procedure before substance




    1. cost benefit analysis




    1. reality training




    1. sound legal philosophy




    1. not doing what client wants or becoming client




  1. How Lawyers Can Use the Change to Advantage: “The two most important things in a person’s life are their money and their family.”




    1. Change in Society: Youtube Judge Renee Goldenberg speech Broward County Bar Association (keys to a successful long term happy and healthy relationship = selection, commitment and intimacy) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SIONe6l37E




    1. EVOLUTION TO REVOLUTION: Where are the Clients Going to Be Coming From: Know your constituency / create constituencies




      1. Marriages down: College Educated 64% of 48%; alumni

Jimmy Fallon (October 17, 2014) “The marriage rate has hit an all time low with one in five adults over 25 never having been married. In fact, an ad firm has come up with a slogan to get people on board. One slogan is: “Marriage, satisfaction guaranteed or your money back – half of it, anyway.”



      1. 40% of new marriages are remarriages: prenups; 65% fail




      1. Over age 50 divorces going to double 35 to 50%:

“A new study of older couples finds that married men are happier when their wives rate their marriage highly—even if the men themselves don’t rate the marriage highly. Women, conversely, were only modestly happier when their husbands had higher marital satisfaction.” [Sun-Sentinel, September 28, 2014, “Yes, Dear, I’m Happy If You’re Happy,” by Daniel Akst]




        1. Boomers 77 million 35% population

        2. control wealth

        3. want collaborative divorce

        4. pension expert

Miami Herald (October 6, 2014) “54% of Florida’s gross domestic product generated by people age 50 and older. 58% of the state’s jobs, contributes 67% of Florida’s state and local taxes. Though only 38% of Florida’s population in 013, 50+ generated 58% of consumer spending.”




      1. Same sex partnerships and marriage




      1. Cohabitation Up: agreements




      1. Paternity:




        1. 48% Florida children born out of wedlock/”

        2. already lower on socio-economic ladder

        3. may be less likely to ever marry”

        4. income inequality




      1. Rise of the Woman: 40% breadwinners




      1. Complex society; complex cases; social media (see materials for advertising, social media, and blogging)




      1. Pro Se wanting to be rescued




    1. Lean” business plan and office structure: Embossed business cards v. Sharing I Phone Contact

[“the point is not revenue; the point is profitability and sustainable profitability over time. . . .costs are low, . . .systems are streamlines. . . what you spend to deliver specific client services, . . . firms must create reliable, ranged, or fixed fee regimens” [Furlong]




      1. Simplify: end game and exit strategy




      1. Options for Young Lawyers and Experienced Lawyers together:

We have young lawyers who are extraordinarily technologically savvy.” [Coleman]


“Senior and . . . .inactive lawyers can’t practice, but they could still mentor or do research and otherwise assist law firms and agencies providing pro bono and low cost services.” Jake Schickel, Florida Bar News, March 1, 2015, “Educating ‘Seasoned’ lawyers about their options.”]


        1. have an extra desk? Consultant; mentor; intern

“It would seem to be a lot cheaper to provide a table or desk, a chair, and a computer and have. . .[them] using them in the office of legal aid or private firms.”



      1. Diversify: blog and/or website on line clients along with traditional methods




      1. Office policies/boundaries for email (hit draft), texting




    1. Technology and Change

      1. Vast Untapped Legal Market”: On line




        1. On line presence: Website and Blog

The Florida Bar Journal, March 1, 2015, “President’s Page by Gregory W. Coleman: “. . . .brand new resource for our members called the Florida Bar Practice Resource Institute. www.floridabar.org/PRI. . . .describes the offerings as a variety of shareable electronic tools. . .five sections—office technology, finance and accounting, marketing, management, and new practices. . . your questions will be answered in real time with a live chat feature.”




        1. Learn how to create to generate dollars and the types of specialty cases you want; young lawyers




          1. “Laser focus your practice:” sub-specialties and “branding”

Narrow your practice area. . . .practicing in one area of the law is more effective, less stressful, and more profitable than practicing in two. People who practice in one area get really, really good at it over time.. .There are a multitude of specialties and subspecialties one can choose or even create. The point is, dig into your inner being and find your calling.” [Assad Mirza, Esq.,” Setting a Strategic Direction, “Broward County Bar Association Barrister, March 2015]


          1. Use interns and young lawyers.




    1. Social Media: Social Media rules and procedure for self and client (Judge Mily Powell in materials)




      1. 1.2 Billion people on Facebook:

          1. “37% of employers who prescreen applicants on Facebook”

          2. 3% of UK divorce filings that name Facebook;

          3. 85% Percent of law-enforcement agencies that use social media in investigations”

          4. Google Yourself and clients




        1. Advertising: Fixed fee, paid in advance, on line fill in. Does the Bar have samples that are acceptable and comply?




        1. Lawyer Referral Services: Does the Bar have a list of those in compliance?

The Florida Bar News, March 1, 2015, “Ad Committee Looks at Nontraditional Referral Services,”: “The Bar cannot directly regulate lawyer referral services. But it can prohibit Bar members from accepting referrals from services that do not comply with Bar standards. Those standards include malpractice insurance requirements, submitting quarterly reports that list all participating Florida Bar members, and complying with Bar lawyer advertising rules.”




    1. Limited Representation: Seems complex, but not (outline of rules in materials) Checklist from Bar?


          1. Choose discrete task or discrete topic; paid in advance


(Ie. mediation, pension, already done this way)


          1. Forms already done, except own retainer agreement (see www.divorceyes.com)




          1. Rules clear:




            1. Be clear and simple

            2. Notify client, notify court, notify opposing side




          1. Issue is use of process: Bar develop a contract such as in contingency fee agreement




    1. Collaborative Law




    1. Justice Teaching and Civics Education. http://www.justiceteaching.org/




    1. Contingency fees




    1. The Federalization of Florida law: over $5,000; Hague




    1. Other Solutions: “Back in Our Comfort Zone”




      1. Be active in the Florida Bar, local bar associations, voluntary bar associations




      1. New educated consumer: certification; specialization, AAML




      1. Niche / language/ gender / socio-economic / subspecialty




      1. Multi-talent: two areas of practice




      1. Personal Service Business




      1. Targeting Client Base: “grass roots”

“There are civic, religious, and charitable organizations that can use their help.” [Sandy Meyers, Florida Bar News, March 1, 2015, “Educating ‘Seasoned’ lawyers about their options.”]




    1. ‘Partners’: Therapists; Accountants; Realtors; Forensics: MENTEES




    1. Volunteer at Legal Aid: Certification and AAML



  1. Now that You Have the Client: WHAT WORKS / PROCEDURE BEFORE SUBSTANCE:




    1. We have to change the culture of not just our own lives, but of our judiciary and are legal practices so that we can be more efficient.” [Pettis]




    1. Principles and Philosophy: TRIAL IS A LAST RESORT




    1. Place as a priority what Litigants Want




      1. Confidentiality




        1. TMI: + Self Represented put all mandatory disclosure documents on line




        1. CYA


        1. Simplified Dissolution: creative use





        1. Exception: names, dates of birth and child support beginning and termination dates, step down child support; first line of emergency motions




      1. Simplify




        1. Client selection and evaluation: fixed fee and paid in advance

          1. Limit scope of representation and fee structure based on representation: Uncontested, Without children and with children (financial affidavits forever open to attack if fraud)




          1. Divide representation into distinct tasks: preparation of pleadings; preparation for and representation at mediation; contested parenting issues; draft of QDRO




          1. Change scope of representation: “add-ons”




            1. Cost for services

            2. include analysis of cost-benefit and reality training




        1. Forms: Use to get and keep clients: Instructions and Use; Terms of art “representation limited to . . . .”




        1. Presuit Divorce Counseling / Mediation first: No marital settlement agreement sent


        1. PEACE




      1. Efficiency and Effectiveness: Ask for court’s help




        1. Cost-benefit; reality training: judges’ checklists




        1. Begin with what is client’s end result and prepare exit strategy




        1. Limit traditional litigation and discovery: Depositions for W2 employees?




        1. Be Aware of How Cases Most Frequently Enter the court system




          1. Paternity: Support and Parenting Plan Issues

            1. Alleged Child Emergency or Domestic Violence

            2. DOR order in place / no support

            3. Parenting leaving/ refusing to return child/exchange/timesharing dispute

            4. Self represented does it wrong and hires a lawyer




          1. Dissolution of Marriage

            1. Alleged Child Emergency or Domestic Violence

            2. Pro Se filing /Pro Se respondent

            3. Appear first at final hearing after default (child; /median income final judgment)

**Imputation of income. Florida Statutes section 61.30(2)(b) was amended in 2010 to include: if the information concerning a parent’s income is unavailable, a parent fails to participate in a child support proceeding, or a parent fails to supply adequate financial information in a child support proceeding, income shall be automatically imputed to the parent and there is a rebuttable presumption that the parent has income equivalent to the median income of year round full time workers as derived from current population reports or replacement reports published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Therefore, for 2014, child support orders shall include imputation to such a Father of $44, 539 and to a Mother of $37, 278. The Court may refuse to impute income to a parent if the court finds it necessary for that parent to stay home with the child who is the subject of a child support calculation.



            1. Self represented does it wrong and hires a lawyer




  1. ONE STOP SHOP CONCEPT: third rule of three: CASE MANAGEMENT, MEDIATION, FINAL HEARING




    1. for 90%




    1. Courtroom and Judge as partner in “One Stop Shop” different in Dissolution v. Paternity:





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