Local lawyer to head national LGBT family project

A Philadelphia attorney who focuses on LGBT family law was recently named to head the national LGBT Family Law Institute. 

Tiffany Palmer will serve a two-year term as director of the organization, a joint venture of the National LGBT Bar Association and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The entity was founded in 2009 to establish a national network of family-law practitioners.

Palmer, 45, is a partner and founder of Jerner & Palmer, P.C., based in Germantown. Her practice areas include family formation — through adoption and assisted-reproductive technology — and parentage litigation.

Palmer began attending the LGBT Bar’s Lavender Law Conference in 1999 and has been involved with FLI, whose members meet at the conference, since its inception. 

The FLI director position is a volunteer one. While balancing that commitment with her practice will be a “challenge,” Palmer said, she noted much of the work can be done virtually. 

Palmer said the FLI team is already planning its involvement in the next two Lavender Law Conferences, which will be held in August 2018 and 2019 in New York City and Philadelphia, respectively.

She said she wants to continue to develop FLI as a resource for the legal and LGBT communities, especially as work continues to ensure family law is fully inclusive of marriage equality.

“What I’m looking to do is lead the organization into the post-marriage-equality world for LGBT rights,” she said. “I want to create a space for lawyers to connect with each other, and share ideas, briefs and strategies for bringing about full implementation of marriage equality. I also want to create a way for clients and potential clients to find highly qualified lawyers who are very experienced in LGBT-rights litigation.”

FLI members, Palmer noted, have to sign on to a set of standards, developed by the Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, for litigating LGBT-rights cases ethically. 

“It’s important for attorneys to use ethical community standards when litigating these cases, and the Family Law Institute provides a way for the public to find attorneys who are held to these standards,” Palmer said.

The organization’s work is even more important given the current political climate, noted Cathy Sakimura, family-law director at NCLR, in a statement.

“The Family Law Institute has been a vital part of the advancement of the legal rights of LGBT families,” Sakimura said. “We are privileged to have Tiffany Palmer’s leadership and expertise in this time when the rights of so many in our communities are under attack.”

LGBT Bar Executive Director D’Arcy Kemnitz added that FLI is a “hallmark” of the organization, which will “continue to flourish” under Palmer’s leadership.

For more information about the Family Law Institute, visit http://bit.ly/2fnDEH0.