From wiretaps to tips on how to draft a closing argument, here are Family Lawyer Magazine’s 10 most-read articles from the last decade.
Edited by Family Lawyer Magazine Staff
Since launching Family Lawyer Magazine in 2012, we have published thousands of relevant, interesting, and educational articles for family lawyers and other family law professionals in North America. From wiretaps to parental alienation and everything in between, our most popular posts cover a wide range of topics to help family law professionals grow their practice and knowledge.
To commemorate this milestone, we set out to discover what your colleagues have been reading and re-reading over the last decade. Without further ado, here are our 10 most popular articles (in descending order).
Family Lawyer Magazine’s Top 10 Articles From the Last Decade
1. How to Locate Bugs and Wiretaps: A Guide for Family Law Clients
By Skipp Porteous, Technical Surveillance Countermeasures Specialist
Published in 2012; Viewed 210,000 times
A “wiretap” is a device attached to the telephone or telephone line that either records both sides of the conversation or transmits the conversation to a listening post where it can be recorded. A wiretap always involves the telephone.
A “bug” is a listening device placed in a room or vehicle. One of a bug’s components is a microphone. The microphones in these devices are usually very small. Some bugs transmit their signal to an external listening post. Video cameras can also be a type of bug.
2. Social Media in Divorce Proceedings
By Judge Michele Lowrance and Family Lawyer Pamela J. Hutul
Published in 2013; Viewed 102,000 times
According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, more than 80% of divorce attorneys surveyed reported an exponential increase in the amount of evidence collected from social networking opportunities in the past five years. The purposes and consequences of social media searches produce rich information that can be used by and against litigants on trial or in settlement negotiations. This article will review the where and what can be procured, how we as advocates can delve for treasure on the social media websites and in digital communications, as well as protect our clients from the pitfalls to which they may expose themselves in being modern in our new world.
3. When Clients Fail to Change Beneficiary Designations After Divorce
By Leslie A. Shaner, Family and Estate Lawyer
Published in 2013; Viewed 55,400 times
At some point in a family law attorney’s career, a current or former client calls to tell you that his/her spouse or ex-spouse has died. The primary reason for the call will be that the deceased ex-spouse has failed to change some type of beneficiary designation/survivorship election on a non-probate asset or has named someone other than the living ex-spouse as the beneficiary/survivor of a non-probate asset as required under a property settlement agreement and/or final decree of divorce. The most common situation is that a deceased ex-spouse has failed to change the beneficiary designation/survivorship election for a non-probate asset to either his/her new spouse or to anyone else – e.g., the parties’ children –and the living ex-spouse remains as the designated beneficiary on the non-probate asset.
4. Protecting Your Clients in Parental Alienation Cases When the Courts Don’t
By Plinio J. Garcia, CEO & Consultant
Published in 2013; Viewed 50,600 times
A very prestigious attorney in Century City recently told me that sometimes the family court system in Los Angeles rewards the behavior of alienating parents with legal and physical custody of their children because it is “n the best interest of the child to stop the tug-of-war between parents.” This counsel was trying to explain to me why we sometimes have to “give up on” our children to minimize the psychological damage of alienation. I was shocked! How can a parent give up on a child, knowing that the other parent is traumatizing him or her? Attorneys should no longer tolerate parental alienation, because of the damage it does to children and the cycle of abuse it supports. Provided below is practical advice for lawyers who feel ethically compelled to protect innocent children from parental alienation.
5. Private Investigators Share Some Tricks of the Trade
By Nicholas Himonidis, Private Investigator
Published in 2013; Viewed 46,735 times
Rulings in New York and other states support the right of a spouse to obtain any and all information from family computers, smartphones, and other devices. However, this is very different from the real-time interception made possible by spyware. Using spyware that monitors and records the activities of anyone without their knowledge and consent constitutes a Class E Felony in New York, punishable by up to four years in prison. Under the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, any information obtained in this manner, no matter how relevant, is inadmissible in court.
6. Custody Evaluations and Parental Alienation: 10 Questions Answered
By Erik Dranoff, Licensed Psychologist, and Allison Williams, Family Lawyer
Published in 2016; Viewed 28,200 times
When clients ask me, “Do I have to have a custody evaluation?” I tell them that in a divorce proceeding, judges really need objective information to help them make decisions about the children. It is particularly important when you have two parents who are making allegations against each other. Sometimes the allegations are very serious, so judges want to get a sense for how well each parent functions from a mental health professional’s perspective. Can they co-parent together? Is the child going to be harmed by being placed with either or both of the parents? If the parents are both functionally fit, what is their capacity to deal with each other as parents, and is the child going to be better served with one or the other? That really is what the role is of a custody evaluation.
7. How to Draft a Persuasive Closing Argument in Five Easy Steps
By Kimberly A. Quach, Family Lawyer
Published in 2011; Viewed 21,300 times
As trial lawyers, we all dream of drafting a beautifully crafted, compelling closing argument — a solid summary of the evidence that leaves the Court breathless to draft an opinion in our favor, and our clients clamoring to pay our bills in gratitude for excellent advocacy. We have big hopes about closing when we hear bits and pieces of our client’s and other witnesses’ comments, the judge’s rulings and thoughts, and the other lawyer’s arguments. And we can practically taste how wonderful our closings will be as we view the trial during each of these stages. Oh, yes, we think, I must remember to include the judge’s comment during that evidentiary ruling.
8. 9 Reasons Why Lawyers Quit Practicing Law
By James Gray Robinson, Family Lawyer and Coach
Published in 2018; Viewed 19,000 times
When I quit practicing law in 2004 after 27 years of being an attorney, I felt like I had failed my parents, my family, and myself. I couldn’t take it anymore; the practice of a general trial lawyer had ceased being the adventure of a white knight and had become the nightmare of a palace dwarf.
I very rarely lost a winnable case, but the ones I did lose haunted me… So what happened to that dream, the quest, the oath? After years of self-analysis, I discovered the following about why lawyers quit practicing law.
9. Development and Introduction of Exhibits
By Late Family Lawyers Lynne Z. Gold-Bikin and Stephen Kolodny
Published in 2012; Viewed 17,400 times
Often, dissolution cases become a ‘he said, she said’ fight, with two diametrically different versions of the same incidents and lifestyles. The introduction of documentary evidence to support your client’s side of the story is very effective and may swing the case to your client’s side. Such evidence can range from existing documents to evidence created for trial. Wherever it arises, it can make or break a case.
10. Becoming Skilled at Cross-Examination Part I
By Late Family Lawyers Lynne Z. Gold-Bikin and Stephen Kolodny
Published in 2012; Viewed 12,900 times
The cross-examination shifts the spotlight from the witness to the lawyer. Now is the time for leading questions. Now is the time to control witnesses; to prevent them from saying whatever they want to say. Counsel is never to ask the “W” questions, or give the hostile witness an opportunity to pontificate. Counsel must control the witness so that the only testimony will be what is expected and desired. It is never more true than on cross-examination that counsel should not ask a question to which they do not know the answer.
Before cross-examination is undertaken, counsel should develop a theory on why this witness is being questioned at all. Peppering a hostile witness with questions will not advance the case unless there is a purpose to the questions and the expected answers. There are even witnesses for which cross-examination may hurt rather than help the case. Do not give the witness an opportunity to repeat testimony that hurt the first time and will not be better on the repeating. Know why the witness is to be questioned and what you expect to elicit from the testimony.
If reading one or more of our top 10 most-read articles from the past decade has inspired you to submit a story proposal – or finished article – to Family Lawyer Magazine, we are most interested in relevant content that can help family lawyers manage their practices more efficiently, learn about financial tips and traps, discover new technology and trends, and offer better service to their clients. Send your article or proposal to Editors@FamilyLawyerMagazine.com. If you have never written for us before, please attach your CV or a link to your online profile.
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