GPSolo Magazine - September 2004
From the Editor
Welcome to another Best of ABA Sectionsissue of GPSolo. Once again, we have collected outstanding articles from across the ABA to provide you with concise, informative articles to enhance your practice. These articles were written by dedicated volunteers to the profession. We are thankful for the time and effort they gave.
As you are more than aware, it’s that time again, time for us to make decisions that will affect our local communities and the country. We are very fortunate to live in a country where we have the right and privilege of choosing our leaders, and in some states, to make policy decisions. The right to vote is arguably the greatest right of citizenship in our country, yet voter turnout continues to decline, owing to apathy and an increasing sense that one vote will not make a difference. In 1996, 54.2 percent of those eligible voted; of those, 49 percent voted for President Clinton, 41 percent voted for Bob Dole (www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781448.html). I am always amazed that approximately one-quarter of our eligible voters elected the president of the United States, and I am more amazed that even fewer participated in local elections, where their voices could really be heard. This year is one of the most important voting years in our lifetimes. Major decisions regarding where this country and our states and communities are going will be decided by those who get out and vote. We, as individuals, have the power and privilege to vote—and we should take advantage of it.
I encourage each and every one of you to get out the vote. Talk to your communities and help get folks registered. Help people complete the voter registration form (in most counties it can be downloaded) and send it to the county clerk. You can also ask if these people need to vote absentee and assist them with those forms, and ask if they need assistance getting to the polls. Work with the county clerk to register voters in lower-income neighborhoods. Help those individuals obtain a sense of entitlement to vote and help them to see that their vote does make a difference. Go to high schools and talk about voter participation. It is essential that we engage 18-to-24-year-olds in the system again. As we have all heard again and again, they are the future, and we need them to buy into the future.
As attorneys, we have been trained to work with and help people. I encourage you to use that training by getting involved in a campaign. It really does not take much to get involved. From state and federal campaigns to ballot initiatives and campaigns for local school boards, every campaign at every level welcomes volunteer assistance. Such assistance does not always involve monetary donations—although most campaigns appreciate and welcome donations—but rather calling, walking precincts, web assistance, fund-raising assistance, getting out the vote, and publicizing the campaigns through your communities and friends. Working on a campaign is a great way to get involved in your state and local issues and a great way to meet people outside of the legal community.
If actual involvement in a campaign does not fit your schedule, consider going to social events for campaigns and ballot initiatives. A number of groups across the country are getting people involved in different ways—from helping young professionals become active in politics, to encouraging women to become candidates, to getting out the vote in various ethnic populations. People are energized this year. It is time to stand up and be heard and to help others do the same.
In my previous column, I talked about how we, as attorneys, help people make a better life for themselves and I urged readers to volunteer in their communities. Voter registration and participation is just one way to help make your community a better one.
Once again, I thank all of the authors across the ABA who participated in making this edition a great compilation of articles that will, I hope, benefit our readers—solos, small firms, and general practitioners. I am grateful for the contribution they have made to the legal profession in researching and drafting these articles. I encourage you to get involved through writing and volunteering in your bar associations as these authors have done, and to get involved in your communities. I promise, you will be energized.