GPSOLO July - August 2008
THE CHAIRS’ CORNER
It’s Eleven O’clock, Do You Know Where Your Division Is?
In this, my final Chair’s column, I climb to the top of the soap box one last time. I hope you have gathered over the course of this year that my focus has been on the practical side of the practice of law, with the theme of Simplify Your Practice, Your Profession, Your Life. I began these columns with an overview of what that meant—namely, taking a critical look at what you do in your practice, your profession, and your life in an effort to make things easier for you. In doing so, I thought we could help you free up more time for the other important things in your life, such as your family, your community, and yourself, that tend to be pushed aside in favor of going to the office on the weekend, dealing with a relative who has that pressing legal question, or attending another rubber chicken dinner for your bar association. For the most part, the Division has responded by tailoring its products and services to this theme.
This publication has been in the vanguard of that effort by providing you with practical insight on various legal issues you face as a general practitioner or a solo or small firm lawyer. In our April/May issue we examined several critical topics in the field of “Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice,” and now with this issue we tackle what could be seen as the flipside of that area of law: “Old.” Where else can you get practical, how-to articles on such topics as “The Rise of the Elderly,” “Medicare, Medicaid, and SSI,” “Growing Old with a Lesbian or Gay Partner,” “Scams That Target the Elderly,” “Guardianship and Caregiver Liability,” “Admissions Contracts for Senior Housing Facilities,” “Litigating Nursing Home Malpractice,” “Age Discrimination,” “Growing Old in Your Practice,” and “Eight Ways to Keep Your Practice Toned”?
Each of these articles will provide you with information to help you simplify and streamline how you deal with these issues, thereby allowing you to become more involved in your profession through this Division or your state or local bar association. I have found that such involvement and investment has paid me back tenfold with additional time-saving and information-management techniques, technology advancements, improved persuasive ability, better listening techniques, and generally an enriched skill set that allows me more time to do things I truly love.
As I accept the most coveted position in the Division (i.e., Past Chair), I think back to those humble beginnings when I attended my first GP meeting in the early 1990s. Little did I realize then that this publication was only a mere child, a juvenile at seven years old. Despite the title of this issue, it is now a mere young adult at 25, a silver anniversary for most but a gold if not platinum one for all of us. Many thanks to Joan Burda, jennifer rose, and the ABA Staff for a truly remarkable product. As Robert A. Zupkus takes over as Chair, we will welcome a new 25-year era for this publication and our Division.
Although we face many challenges, I am not worried. Bob Zupkus is a master manager who as Chair of our Membership Committee several years ago helped grow our membership from a diminishing 11,000 to a robust 30,000 today. He wears many hats as an officer in an association of defense counsel and Chair of ABA’s Standing Committee on Membership. Bob is a skilled organizer, a visionary and proven leader. He will shepherd in this new era for the GP|Solo Division with vigor and responsibility. Further, with Bob we are blessed with a “two-fer”—his wife, Donna, provides a unique, engaging perspective to our work. Thank you, Bob and Donna, for your commitment to general practice, solo, and small firm lawyers.
Despite the conventional wisdom, producing effective programs and useful publications and lobbying for the advancement of the cause of GPs, solos, and small firm lawyers takes time, talent, and treasure. There is no better talent pool than the Officers, Directors, and Committee Chairs of this Division.
I marvel at the skill, experience, and insight that these volunteers devote to this effort. As I previously only ascribed to my late wife, Michele, they embody a selfless commitment to others. Of course, that volunteer devotion only works if there is a skilled and driven professional staff. We are blessed with such professionals. Staff Director Kim Anderson, Finance & Committees Coordinator Dee Lee, Meetings Manager Laura Ramirez, Member Services Manager Marianne Braverman, Meetings Services & CLE Coordinator Nicole Nikodem, and our former technology coordinator, J. Gordon Wright, are the engine that make us go. Finally, many thanks to my mentors, Dwight L. Smith, William T. Hogan III, Wynn A. Gunderson, Lee S. Kolczun, Charles A. White Jr., H. Stanley Riffle, and the Division’s Chief Archivist and Conscience, John P. Macy. If good things happened this year, they get most of the credit; if bad things have occurred, they get all of the blame!
As I take my place in that coveted position as Past Chair, unlike General MacArthur I will not fade away but continue my efforts to provide practical tools to the membership while advancing the cause of general practice, solo, and small firm lawyers in the ABA. I urge you to join this effort, particularly those who have been on the fence—we need a new and fresh perspective that can only be brought by all of you. As I say to my clients, thank you for allowing me to be of service.
It Gets Better With Age
Many people may disagree with the title of this article. They would say that the phrase applies only to red wine and cheese. Instead, they would remind us that growing older is hard work and not for the faint of heart.
Because I enjoy red wine and cheese, I agree with their observation to that extent. I disagree, though, that age alone is hard work or cause for despair. What can be hard work is developing maturity and living by the heightened sense of values that comes with it.
Maturity does not automatically come with advancing age. The aging process is the automatic and natural progression of life. It impacts each of us, our families, and our careers whether we wish it to or not. It is the development of personal and professional maturity that keeps the spring in our step as long as possible.
This issue of GPSolo celebrates the 25th anniversary of the magazine, which was first known as The Compleat Laywer. It is now truly 25 years young. The articles in this issue deal with age. But they represent so much more than that. They reflect the maturity and, one hopes, the helpful wisdom that the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division brings to its members and the communities in which they live and serve.
The Division has grown and prospered since it first appeared as the General Practice Section in 1962. Its name, too, has changed several times. It is now a Division, not a Section. As a Division its mission is to help attorneys in this unique practice setting regardless of where they might consider their home within the greater ABA. In other words, the Division has a broader, and dare I say, more mature approach to its work within the ABA.
The Division hopes to develop a community of solo and small firm practitioners throughout the ABA. Solo and small firm practitioners should feel completely comfortable with their ABA membership regardless of whether they are a member of the Division itself. The Division is here to assist and develop solo programs and products throughout the ABA. The desire is not just to take credit for successful programs but to make sure they exist and thrive.
The Division leaders who proceeded me, Keith B. McLennan, John P. Macy, Dwight L. Smith, Lee S. Kolczun, William T. Hogan III, Karen J. Mathis, and George Ripplinger, to name but the most recent, developed the concept of cooperation and continuation of ideas within the Division with wisdom and maturity. Each Chair was not a “one-and-done” leader. Each served with a great sense of continuity to promote the Division Mission Statement and Strategic Plan, not for personal recognition.
This sense of unity keeps the Division moving forward at a brisk, youthful clip. It is a community culture and thought process that promotes the working themes of Past Chairs—such as “Simplify” and “Do Something”—beyond a single year. The spirit of cooperation will well serve the theme of this bar year, “Bar None: Inclusivity,” transforming the word “diversity” from description to action.
The Division owes much of its current success to the maturity it developed with thought, planning, and effort. It was not the mere passage of time or “getting old” that achieved this. I am so very proud to stand on the broad shoulders of not the “Old Guard” but the ever-improving and evolving “Mature Guard.” Thank you, Keith, John, Dwight, Lee, Bill, Karen, and George—and all the Chairs before you—for your sense of leadership and maturity. I hope to pass this legacy along in at least the same fine shape that is has been entrusted to me and all the members and staff of the Division.
A similar thank you is deservedly offered to the GP|Solo leaders who will follow me. I know that they, James Durant and jennifer j. rose, share the maturity and foresight to serve our members and not their own personal aspirations.
I also extend great thanks to the current GPSolo editor, Joan Burda, and her predecessor, jennifer j. rose, who have devoted years of service to the continued improvement of the magazine. Without them, GPSolo would never have reached its 25th birthday. Because of them, the publication, in whatever the current format, will be young and vibrant at age 100.