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May 15, 2018
Family Law Section publishes new ‘Bounds of Advocacy’ practice guidelines

‘Bounds of Advocacy’ If you practice family law or handle any family law issues, the Family Law Section’s newly revised and released “Bounds of Advocacy goals for family lawyers in Florida will be available on the section's website by May 10.

The guide leads Florida lawyers through the quagmire of professional and ethical dilemmas that are unique to the practice of family law and offers goals for professional cooperation, competence and advice, conflict of interest, fees, and children. It suggests a higher level of practice than the baseline of conduct required by The Florida Bar rules — and spells out guidelines for situations that often arise in family law where the rules don’t provide sufficient guidance.

Family Law Section Chair Nicole L. Goetz appointed Richard West and Melinda Gamot to co-chair the ad hoc Bounds of Advocacy Committee. West and Gamot are Florida Bar board certified in marital and family law and are fellows of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Family Lawyers.

“We hope family lawyers will use the Bounds to better serve our clients, our system of justice, and our individual practices by reducing the emotional and financial costs of family law conflicts,” West said. “Adopting the spirit of the Bounds will lead to increased cooperation while eliminating many of the negative aspects of restructuring a family. The committee is proud to present our vision to the family law bar.”

This “Bounds of Advocacy” version is an update from the original 2004 Florida publication. The Family Law Section Ad Hoc Bounds of Advocacy Committee revised the guide to capture not only changes in marital and family law, but in ethics, professionalism, social media, and technology. The revamped 52-page reference book is available on the Family Law Section website, FamilyLawFla.org, at no charge.

“The Bounds is a tool for the family lawyer to increase the level of professionalism and civility in an area of law fraught with human emotions,” Gamot said. “We strive to raise the level of positive behaviors for the lawyers and their clients.”

Rebecca Bandy, director of The Florida Bar Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, said the publication is a significant contribution to legal professionalism.

“Our Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that professionalism is no longer aspirational; it is an expectation in Florida,” Bandy said. “Family law is a very emotional and stressful area of practice. With the pressures of social media, client expectations, and the combative nature of these cases, it is important to have a resource guide such as the ‘Bounds of Advocacy.’ The center applauds the Family Law Section in its efforts to elevate the level of professionalism and civility among its members and also those members of The Florida Bar who do not routinely practice in this area.”

Goetz said the “Bounds of Advocacy” has been an invaluable part of her family law practice.

“I remember receiving a copy of the original publication when I first started into private practice. It was such an incredible resource to me that I knew that I wanted to ensure that a revision of the publication was a primary goal of the section this year,” Goetz said. “With the vast changes in technology, ethics, and the law since its original publication, revisions were necessary to once again make the publication a key document for family law practitioners or any attorney that is addressing a family law issue.”

[Revised: 11-14-2018]