Family Law Organizer creates a new community for professionals in British Columbia

  • September 04, 2019
  • John-Paul Boyd

The British Columbia Courthouse Library Society is charged with providing legal information services to the provincial bench and bar, and with creating educational resources and programs to that end. In addition to brick-and-mortar libraries, the society has developed electronic tools to exploit the information-sharing potential of the internet. Its large collection of legal education wikibooks, built on the same open-source platform that runs Wikipedia, is an example of a successful electronic tool.

Courthouse Libraries’ latest venture is, a province-wide network of online services for legal professionals. Lawbster is a closed network that allows lawyers to collaborate on projects, share precedents and practice tips, and find continuing professional development opportunities.

In 2016, Courthouse Libraries began to develop a special community in Lawbster for family law professionals, at the request of members of the family law bar. The Family Law Organizer was created to: help lawyers stay on top of CPD offerings, without having to visit a half-dozen different websites; keep informed about new initiatives; share information; and, connect those working in large firm and boutique settings with sole practitioners and those working in more remote, rural settings.

Courthouse Libraries has spent the past year working on FLO in a collaborative partnership with members of the family law bar—improving its capacity and services, and adding new features. FLO is intended to improve the provision of family law services for all British Columbians by building an independent community of legal professionals that will enhance their knowledge and expertise, allow the sharing of documents including model orders, precedents and sample clauses, promote the sharing of papers and articles, and permit the creation of special members-only subcommunities for those in particular practice niches. A subcommunity for parenting coordinators has already been established. Other subcommunities could be created for legal professionals dealing with matters such as multi-adult parenting agreements, assisted reproduction agreements and Hague Convention abduction cases

FLO’s formal community statement describes its purpose:

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.

FLO’s current features include:

  • a precedent library where legal professionals can download (and upload!) precedents like pleadings, agreements, clauses for orders and agreements, letters, releases, waivers and so forth;
  • a news stream that provides a feed of family law related news, including legislative amendments, important new judgments and general news on family law subjects;
  • a papers collection including academic and continuing professional development papers on a wide range of family law subjects;
  • a handy SCFR Noteup Robot lets users note-up the British Columbia Supreme Court Family Rules, despite the limitations of CanLII’s search engine;
  • a page with a curated list of links to all of the most commonly used family law resources;
  • a new jobs board for posting family law positions; and,
  • the subcommunity just for parenting coordinators that allows them to share hard-won lessons, and to talk about this difficult area of practice with other parenting coordinators.

FLO has enormous potential to improve the practice of family law in British Columbia. Best of all, it is free to join. Courthouse Libraries is funded by lawyers’ practice fees along with grants from the Law Foundation of British Columbia.

John-Paul Boyd is a family law arbitrator, mediator and parenting coordinator practising throughout Alberta and British Columbia.