For the past couple years, Courthouse Libraries BC (CLBC) has been working with a committee of BC family law professionals to help them realize their vision for a "Family Law Organizer". As of June 2019, CLBC is pleased to announce FLO's re-launch with a much improved (and larger) collection of features and resources to connect and help practitioners. FLO's community statement reads:
FLO is a community of legal professionals established to improve the practice of family law by encouraging dialogue and the free exchange of knowledge, building relationships within the family law bar and related professions, sharing precedents, papers and other practice resources, and improving the experience of family restructuring after separation for children and adults.
Membership in FLO is free, and requires an account on www.lawbster.net, CLBC’s online community platform. It’s open to Law Society of British Columbia members (you probably want to practice family law), as well as designated paralegals (as defined in the Code of Professional Conduct). Other membership requests are considered on a case-by-case-basis by the FLO Steering Committee having regard to applicants’ expertise, academic study, and status as family law dispute resolution professionals (as defined in the Family Law Act).
The newly optimized FLO boasts an exciting array of new or revamped features:
A comprehensive listing of family law CPD courses and events in a unified calendar. Events are tagged by subject area, so users can browse at a glance or search for a particular topic. Click "Subscribe to calendar" to easily sync Outlook/Apple/Google calendars (so it’s available outside the website). Event pages also support community comments and discussion.
FLO News Stream
See a wide variety of family law-related news in a single feed: legislative updates (e.g. alerts when new bills are tabled), digest of new family law cases, mainstream news, court and government announcements, posts from key BC family law blogs, community announcements, social media highlights and more. FLO members can also submit news items.
FLO Precedent Library
Sharing precedents, advice and difficult to find cases is part of mentorship, and FLO encourages this. Members can upload and short clauses or whole docs (sample agreements, orders, etc.) and classify them according to a custom taxonomy developed by CLBC in conjunction with John-Paul Boyd. Others can search, download and comment on precedents in the online library.
FLO Papers Collection
A surprising amount of analysis exists in the papers lawyers write, but it’s not always easy to find them. A top requested feature was a database where members could upload articles, research papers, case comments, etc. in a well-organized and simple manner.
FLO makes sharing insight and analysis with legal peers a lot easier.
FLO Jobs & Opportunities
It’s now dead easy to post and find job opportunities exclusively in the domain of family practice.
Simple but useful. It’s a well curated list of links to sites that family lawyers often need. There’s also a note up tool for the Supreme Court Family Rules which does something that is challenging to do using CanLII alone.
FLO Working Groups
Some groups want a private space for discussion and project collaboration. In the future, these groups will have the option of requesting their own working group areas ( calendars, forums, document libraries, etc.)
History of FLO
The concept for FLO sprang out of a meeting back in Spring 2016, when a few dozen lawyers met (entirely of their own accord) to talk about how to solve some of the mounting challenges of practice under the Family Law Act. Lawyers like Lisa Hamilton QC, David Dundee, and Carole Hickman QC were early drivers of this discussion. The meeting revealed some frustration around:
- staying on top of CPD offerings,
- keeping informed about new family law initiatives (new rosters, new pilot programs, and other things peers are working on),
- general burn out,
- duplication of effort, and
- information silos (especially hard on those who work alone or whose practices are more isolated).
The term "Family Law Organizer" was coined by Lisa Hamilton QC early on, and it stuck. The once future tool that might solve some of these problems is now a reality on www.lawbster.net. Get organized, and connect with practitioners today on FLO.
Lawbster.net was created by CLBC to be a Canadian-hosted, professionally focused social network and community platform for legal professionals. FLO is the “proof of concept” and pilot community for www.lawbster.net. The initiative as a whole fits with CLBC’s larger mission to help the justice system better manage, curate, share, and connect legal knowledge.
Users at this time are given free accounts, subject to the criteria set by the FLO Steering Committee. Members log in to access features and interact with other members.
For 2019, Courthouse Libraries BC will continue piloting the services on Lawbster.net, evaluating usage and monitoring the value it brings members.
If you have any questions about FLO or Lawbster.net, or wish to join it yourself, please contact Nate Russell.