13 Oct Presentations Aim to Advance Field of ART Law
The past several weeks have been a whirlwind of speaking engagements for me, primarily for the purpose of educating lawyers and sharing the knowledge and skills I’ve gained in the practice of the ever-evolving field of assisted reproductive technology law.
There is great interest in ART law, in large part because it is a new field and because technological advances are constantly expanding the potential of human reproduction and changing the legal landscape. Family law attorneys, estate attorneys and divorce lawyers in particular are hungry for information about how ART issues that were unimaginable a decade ago may impact their cases and their clients—how family law has evolved around the evolving family.
At a basic level, attorneys want to know what it’s like to practice ART law and to break into the field. We discuss family dynamics and dilemmas that have become increasingly common as new technologies pave the way for non-traditional means of family formation. The best way for attorneys to keep up with rapidly changing case law is through legal conferences and collaboration with other attorneys.
At the California State Bar Association Family Law CLE Conference on Sept. 30, my esteemed colleague, Deborah Wald, and I presented "A Family Lawyers Guide to Assisted Reproduction Law: What Every Family Law Attorney Should Know About ART.” This presentation includes a sub-topic on how courts are resolving battles among divorcing couples over disposition of genetic material, which I originally presented at the quarterly meeting of the Academy of California Adoption Lawyers/ Academy of California Family Formation Lawyers, held Sept. 17 in Santa Barbara.
For example, what does an attorney do when intended parents divorce and then quarrel over who has the right to use preserved eggs, sperm or embryos originally intended to allow the couple to have a child together? If one partner uses the material to conceive a child, who is the legal parent? As we’ve written about earlier, there are few to no laws offering resolution to these complex questions, and case law is inconsistent.
And coming up October 17 I will have the great honor of presenting at the Yale School of Law in New Haven, Connecticut, along with Douglas G. Nejaime, a Yale Martin R. Flug Visiting Professor of Law. Doug is a law professor at UCLA School of Law, where he serves as Faculty Director of the Williams Institute, a highly regarded think tank that researches sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. At the Yale Law presentation, I’ll discuss what my day-to-day practice is like, my role in guiding clients during the ART progress, my work with organizations such as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology in helping to develop best practices and ethical standards, and advances in the legal rights of LGBT intended parents.
Later that same week I’ll be in Quebec City for the American Bar Association Family Law Section CLE Conference, where, in addition my duties as chair of the ABA’s ART Committee, I’ll present, with committee Vice Chair Dean Hutchison, on the legal implications of relationship conflicts during surrogacy: What happens when a surrogate and her spouse divorce, or a surrogate gets married or partnered during the surrogacy process? What happens when intended parents separate or divorce or enter a new relationship?
Finding time away from my busy law practice to attend legal conferences and develop presentations can be challenging, but I am passionate about the field of ART law, and I enjoy sharing my experiences. My goal is to help advance our legal profession, expand the field of knowledge in ART law, and in return learn from my colleagues for the benefit of my clients and their families.