Last year, as the pandemic was impacting families across the country, NYLS was selected to partner with the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association on the Family Law Quarterly (FLQ), a leading scholarly journal that has been published by the ABA for more than 50 years.
During the 2020–21 academic year, NYLS students have source-checked and edited journal articles written by leading scholars and practitioners, researched and analyzed state laws across the country, and monitored important cases—all while working remotely.
This month, the first NYLS-edited (double) issue of the FLQ was published. Its articles cover family law developments related to child welfare, U.S. immigration policy, discrimination against LGBTQ+ families seeking to adopt children, and other timely topics.
Building an Editorial Operation
Source-checking and editing a high-quality, nationally focused academic journal is a major undertaking in itself. But NYLS’s inaugural student Editorial Board had the additional challenge of doing so fully online.
They quickly got to work in summer 2021:
As the inaugural NYLS student Editor in Chief, Aliyah Polner 3L developed an organizational structure, editorial policies, and virtual training programs for the FLQ’s 40 student members. She has planned and led student meetings and seminars throughout the year, managed completion of all work on the journal, overseen articles work, and contributed extensively to editing FLQ articles.
Managing Editor Kelly Barrett 3L Evening built the team’s online workspace and library and trained fellow members on using it, in addition to overseeing multiple editing and other projects throughout the year. The library helps the team keep important source documents and article content organized, and it has been a critical part of managing the editing process.
Kathy Torres 4L Evening is Executive Articles Editor. She developed protocols to document how each article is meticulously checked and edited, line by line and footnote by footnote. She has also provided training and guidance on the editing process, and performed significant work in editing articles.
As the FLQ’s Research, Design, and Reference Editor, Sabrina Smith 3L Evening educates members on how to collect and organize hard-to-find sources. She has also developed and implemented protocols for this process, working with NYLS’s Mendik Library. In addition, Smith researches cases relating to family law and COVID-19, has assisted with formatting the journal, and is NYLS’s student liaison with the ABA Family Law Section.
As the Executive Law-in-50 Editor, Shelby Arenson 4L Evening oversees a special in-depth issue, “Law-in-50,” which surveys aspects of family law across the 50 states. FLQ is well known for publishing annual charts that survey statutes in all 50 states. Arenson worked to redesign the charts and update the categories of information that are captured, developed and implemented protocols for all students to complete the research and analysis needed, and has provided feedback and support for students throughout this process.
Erin Peake 3L is Symposium and Communications Editor. Peake has been instrumental in researching new cases related to COVID and family law, and she oversaw student work in writing digests of selected cases. Student-written digests of these cases not only run in the journal; they are also materials for an upcoming ABA symposium on family law and COVID-19.
The student Editorial Board works closely with Professor Lisa Grumet, who leads the Diane Abbey Law Institute for Children and Families and serves as Faculty Editor/Editor in Chief for the FLQ. To develop and produce FLQ issues, Professor Grumet also collaborates with the FLQ Board of Editors, which includes leading family law practitioners and scholars, the ABA Managing Editor, and the ABA Family Law Section leadership and staff.
Assembling a Dedicated Team
There are 40 student members of the FLQ. More than a quarter are evening students.
By the end of this academic year, this first group of NYLS editors will have collectively edited 15 articles on significant family law topics, researched family laws in all 50 states, and written digests of family law cases from across the country.
In addition to the Editorial Board, the FLQ editorial staff includes eight Senior Editors and 26 Junior Editors. The Senior Editors—each of whom oversees a team of Junior Editors—are Maraya Aboly-Brown 3L, Jessica Awad 3L, Alexis Dairman 3L, Mathew Fontanez 3L Evening, David Hawkins 3L, Andreina Mendez 3L Evening, Lisa-Marie Ortiz 4L Evening, and Serene Qandil 3L.
For the FLQ’s Law-in-50 issue, editors work in teams organized by topic area, with students researching and preparing charts of state laws and summarizing cases on that topic. The topics include Divorce/Grounds and Alimony, Divorce/Property Division, Child Support, Parentage, Child Custody, Third-Party Custody and Visitation, Child Welfare and Attorney for the Child, and Domestic Violence.
To keep everyone informed and on track, all students completed an orientation program and take part in regular seminars led by Editorial Board members, with guidance from Professor Grumet.
The ABA’s Family Law Section and NYLS are co-sponsoring an April 8 symposium titled “Family Law During COVID-19: Challenges, Adaptations, and Future Impacts.” This is the FLQ’s first symposium event, and it will feature the journal’s authors. Two upcoming journal issues on COVID-19 and family law will follow, with articles that explore how the pandemic could impact court processes, child welfare, and other issues.