Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Why Hate the Lawyer by Bo Murphy

We have all heard the lawyer jokes, jabs, and punch lines, and while some might be deserved, the most are not. The vast majority of attorneys in our legal system work diligently to make our world a better place, either by putting violent criminals behind bars, or by civil equality in all aspects of life. While all attorneys play special roles in our society, none play a more imperative role than the attorneys courageous enough to tackle family law.

Family law traditions span way before our society; in fact, most of the terms we use in family law today are Latin terms that were used by individuals that incorporated this vernacular in their every day vocabulary. Family law in America today comes primarily from the English law before the Revolutionary War, and since this type of law’s domination in American courts, attorneys passionate enough and that genuinely want to help their neighbors in the community have stepped up to do so.

Today in the United States, family law attorneys are wrongfully profiled as being sub-par or inept attorneys, when this notion could not be father from the truth. Perhaps this misinformation comes from former clients of family law attorneys that have had problems listening to the instructions of counsel to their own detriment, or maybe a client who went into the ordeal with unrealistic expectations or with unclean hands. We will truly never know why family law attorneys are sketched this way in society. However, one thing that is for certain is that family law attorneys should be given the respect, admiration, and approbation they deserve from the community. They deserve this because most family law attorneys are zealous advocates who truly believe that a better world begins with the most intimate and basic part of our lives, our families.

I hope this short blog has made you think and realize that scapegoats are rarely to blame in this field of law. Many of you will ask, “But how would you know, you have not been around long enough!”  Many will say that I am just a law clerk that has been working in family law a total of three weeks, I know nothing. While this remark has merit, true passion and deserving respect takes no time to perceive and recognized.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What Is A Family?

I just started a new semester at the law school (technically, over half-done!).  I was lucky enough to squeeze into Professor Black’s Family Law survey.  On the first day of the class, Professor Black asked one of my colleagues to define family.  My colleague responded by saying that a good start to the definition of the family is all of the biological kinfolk, such as, ancestors and issue.  For the information of the reader, an ancestor is any of the generations that came before and led to the current generation; for example: parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on.  An issue is any following generations that the current generation caused to be in existence.  For example, kids, adopted kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and so forth and so on.  In my opinion, his response is interesting because biology is a strong hard line to draw in a definition of family, however, the definition of family has changed drastically over history and I think that biology is too narrow a definition.

               For the rest of the class we tried to define family in a way that included all of the different aspects and types of families.  Put simply, family cannot be defined as one thing.  Certainly, biology plays a role in deciding who is considered to be family but even a simple biology definition is larger than ancestors and issue, for instance, consider adoption.  Similarly, religion has created a certain definition of family, but not every religion defines family in the same way.  Moreover, the states have the right and the ability to define what a family is and not the federal government.  Just like religion, the states each have a slightly different take on what it means to be a family and even who can be considered a family.  Therefore, there are as many as fifty different definitions of family within our country alone.  Finally, sometimes family is simply defined by a contract, an agreement between two or more people defining the relationship.  In any event, it seems clear to me that family, while seemingly basic, is a surprisingly tricky thing to define.  I wonder what you would think defines a family?