Posted on January 18, 2021
I am truly honored to write this guest blog post celebrating the anniversary of Letters Blogatory. Ted asked that I provide my thoughts on the future of international judicial assistance in the field of family law. I struggled writing this blog post, because nearly every family lawyer would immediately ask, “what is international judicial assistance?”
Family law is one of the best examples of a purely domestic legal practice. Outcomes are achieved in local courts and focus heavily on the family’s local experiences. U.S. family court jurisdiction is typically based on a family member’s local connections. For most family lawyers, when a client from another country walks in our door, it is exciting and exotic… and way above our paygrade. Perhaps I am exaggerating. There have always been clients who have connections to other countries, but I truly envision this growing over the next ten years. COVID has caused many of us to realize the importance of spending time with our families and has us missing time with those in our family who are far from us. It has also shown us that we can work from virtually anywhere and remain connected to colleagues and friends no matter where we sit. I anticipate many more of these international, and domestic, families will seek out opportunities overseas and more routinely travel to spend time with loved ones in far corners of the globe. Coupled with a new administration in Washington, D.C., we may see changing immigration policies, and more movement across our U.S. border. This mobility and multi-jurisdictional lifestyle will complicate the domestic family law practice. It will demonstrate the increasing need for domestic lawyers to seek out education and resources around issues of international judicial assistance. It will create a venue for platforms, like Letters Blogatory, to expand and reach lawyers who have never anticipated needing to know how to serve a litigant in a foreign country, depose a witness overseas, or authenticate a foreign public document for their trial.