GPSolo September 2007
General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division
What’s a Solo to Do?
What could be better than the life of a solo or small firm lawyer? No large-firm boss telling you what to do or which clients to take or how to structure your time. For many attorneys, it’s the perfect career.
But let’s be honest: Maintaining a small law firm or a solo law career is a tremendous amount of work. And even though many choose the solo path because of its autonomy, sometimes working alone can be the hardest thing about the job.
This is where the GP|Solo Division steps in, providing resources for the solo or small firm lawyer—so you’re never left wondering what to do. Two of these resources are the Solosez listserve and the National Solo and Small Firm Conference.
One of GP|Solo’s most valuable resources for solo and small firm practitioners is the Solosez listserve. Though the list started with just a few tentative subscribers a little more than a decade ago, the Solosez list now serves nearly 3,000 subscribers and is by far the ABA’s most active list.
One of the hardest things about being a solo lawyer is not having that colleague down the hall who can answer a quick question or chat about that day’s dilemma. The Solosez list doesn’t provide just that friendly colleague, but a whole “firm” of generous and knowledgeable colleagues around the globe. One recent testimonial posted to the Solosez list provides an example:
I recently posted an inquiry about an area of law outside of my area of focus, and in another state. . . . Going above and beyond the call, [one list member] checked a treatise in his office, looked into the applicable law for the particular state, and responded. When I replied with a thank you and explained (politely) that perhaps there was more to it than he realized, he very politely provided more info, explaining why his initial response did indeed apply. . . . [I got] information that [I] feel is accurate. When I passed on my thanks . . . [the list member’s] reply was an invitation to call if we had more questions.
I neither requested, nor expected, someone to do research when I posted my inquiry. I expected a very brief response. . . . What I received was some time and effort from an attorney I’ve never met, whose practice area—both geographically and field of practice—is such that the likelihood of his good deed resulting in a future referral, or future business from me, is virtually nil, and all provided in a gracious manner.
I wanted to publicly acknowledge and thank him . . . but I know that this sort of thing happens on Solosez all the time.
What a wonderful world Solosez is.
Laurie Axinn Gienapp, Esq.
Certainly, the Solosez community spans a wide range of practice areas and locations. For some Solosezzers (as many list users affectionately refer to themselves), though, the most valuable aspect of the list is the quality of the expertise shared by those on the list:
Before going out on my own, I purchased two books in order to help me “get ready” for the change. Before I bought the books, I probably spent a good two hours just reading book reviews/ratings to make sure I bought the absolute best books on the market. I ended up purchasing: (1) How to Start and Build a Law Practice, by Jay Foonberg; and (2) How to Capture and Keep Clients, edited by jennifer rose. . . .
I recently pulled both books back off of the shelf to re-review and was absolutely amazed when I realized that nearly all of the contri-butors to How to Capture and Keep Clients are frequent posters on this list (I learned of Solosez through the book, so the contributors’ names meant nothing to me the time I first read it), and I already knew that Jay Foonberg and jennifer rose were on this list.
At any rate, to all of you . . . I cannot tell you how many helpful tips, recommendations, forms, etc., those two books contain, so thank you! I imagine that I will continue to utilize them . . . for many years!
Dondra S. Bass, Esq.
The National Solo and Small Firm Conference
Online resources are, of course, essential for solos, but nothing can replace good, old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. Recognizing this, the GP|Solo Division is hosting the Second Annual National Solo and Small Firm Conference, taking place October 5 to 6, 2007, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing, in conjunction with the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division’s Fall Meeting.
Such conferences have been gaining popularity recently on a smaller stage, often hosted by state and local bar associations. The GP|Solo Division created the National Solo and Small Firm Conference in 2006 to allow solo and small firm lawyers to take the Solosez concept one step further, building networks and developing referral sources from all across the country.
To see a list of the scheduled CLE, speakers, and presentations, and to get more information about the conference and register, visit the National Solo and Small Firm Conference website at www.abanet.org/solo.
And it’s not too late to register for the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division’s Fall Meeting in Philadelphia. Call the Division office at 312/988-5640 or visit our website at www.abanet.org/genpractice for more information.
Nominations for Division Officer and Council Positions
The Division’s Nomination Committee for 2007-2008 is Stephen B. Rosales, Belmont, Massachusetts (Chair); Betty Smith Adams, Ellicott City, Maryland; Elio F. Martinez Jr., Coral Gables, Florida; Alan O. Olson, Des Moines, Iowa; and Patricia A. Sexton, Kansas City, Missouri. The Committee will meet during the 2007 Fall Meeting in Philadelphia to nominate individuals for the positions of Division Vice Chair, Secretary, and Members-at-Large of the Council. (The Committee will nominate five Council Members-at-Large to serve four-year terms.)
Applications are due September 30, 2007. Please submit your completed application to the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division, 321 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60611, or send it via fax to 312/988-5711 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For an application, visit our website at www.abanet.org/genpractice.
2007-2008 Diversity Fellows
The Diversity Fellows Program is designed to promote diversity within the Division and the ABA while providing leadership development opportunities within the Division for attorneys of color, women, and those with disabilities.
Each year the Division’s Diversity Committee and Membership Board identifies and nominates four lawyers of color to be appointed by the Chair-Elect to funded fellowship positions within the Division, effective during the following bar year. Upon completion of successful active participation in the first scholarship year, these participants will be appointed to regularly funded positions within the Division the following bar year, giving consideration to the Division’s existing needs and the participants’ preferences.
The Division welcomes the Diversity Fellows for the 2007-2008 bar year: Cassandra J. George, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Jeffrey Robinson, Selma, Alabama; and Artika R. Tyner, St. Paul, Minnesota.
2007-2008 Young Lawyer Fellows
The Young Lawyer Fellows Program provides young lawyers the opportunity to become actively and integrally involved in the Division’s meetings and committees. The Fellows are identified and nominated by the Division’s Young Lawyers Committee and are appointed by the Chair-Elect to funded fellowship positions within the Division for the following bar year. The Fellows are appointed to the Young Lawyers Committee and one other committee of their choosing, and they are expected to complete a substantive project for the Division.
The Division welcomes the Young Lawyer Fellows for the 2007-2008 bar year: Christine G. Albano, Ellicott City, Maryland, and Jennifer S. Hilsabeck, Henderson, Nevada.