2 0 1 5 F O R E W O R D
The changes to the practice of family law have been sweeping and incredibly fast over the decade or so that Eddie Stephens has been doing his Squibs. From the changes in alimony and timesharing to the slow entry to the non-paper age, the practice of family law has changed dramatically. Not to mention the use of social media, electronic mail and constant tethering to one’s law practice and clients. It used to be a big deal for a client to have an attorney’s home phone number. Now clients call attorneys on their cell phones literally any time of the day or night.
Back when calendars were big red books and we counted the days to respond to discovery on a wheel, Eddie had a vision. While studying for board certification, he found it easier to study if he wrote things out. After passing the test and becoming Board Certified in Family Law, Eddie felt a responsibility to stay up to date on case law so started “squibbing” in longhand as he read the Florida Law Weekly’s. As other attorneys became aware that Eddie had already put in the work they asked him to share it. Starting slowly, he “published” the first few years of Squibs on the copier at work and gave them to a few close friends, particularly those who don’t like to research. Next thing we knew there were people calling the office wondering when the Squibs would come out. People actually got kind of rude about it; if the Squibs weren’t out when expected or someone didn’t get their copy in the mail we’d get crazy calls from people needing their Squibs!
Stephens’ Squibs has grown from a few sheets of paper copied front and back to a published book with a foreword and cover and everything! The Squibs only used to be on Eddie’s website and now the Family Law Section provides them to their members. There are imitators (you know who you are) who send out their own “case summaries” by email and social media every month or quarter.
Last year Eddie donated the proceeds from the Squibs Book to Big Dog Ranch Rescue. All things being equal, this year the proceeds will go to Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League. To all of the family law attorneys who are sending out case summaries of your own – I challenge you to do something that matters with your case summaries. Take it outside of family law. Find a way to make a difference in the community. Family law is not just about divorce, paternity, alimony and child support; family law practitioners should be a part of a strong community trying to do some good and make a difference.
Eddie has his collection of Squibs lined up on a bookshelf (ok, now it’s more than one bookshelf). Looking at the development of the Squibs one can almost trace the changes in family law. Back when the Squibs first started Eddie’s kids were toddlers, now one is in high school and the other is darn close. Law firms are paperless – or trying to be – and the 4th DCA gets really cranky if you don’t submit your e-filings properly. Eddie’s enthusiasm, diligence and responsibility to the Squibs shines through, both in his practice and in the manner in which he’s developed the Squibs. Not only have they taken on a life of their own but they also have turned into a way not only to educate attorneys but to make a difference in the community. That’s how Eddie thinks: if he can find a way to take something that is happening in his practice and exploit it for good, he will.
Of course, I may just be biased. I typed the first few years of Squibs and still proofread them. Not to mention that I’m quite fond of the author.
Jacquie Smolak Stephens
December 25, 2014