GENERAL PRACTICE, SOLO AND SMALL FIRM
DIVISION NEWS
What Has the Division Done for Me Lately?

By Kimberly Anderson

Belonging to an association is part of the very fabric of our society. A study concluded that nearly seven out of every ten Americans belong to at least one association, and one out of every four Americans belongs to four or more. Associations like ours provide social and economic benefits that touch each of us every day.

It is in times of economic downturn that the benefits and true value of association membership shine through. Associations are information brokers. They either have the kind of information at their fingertips that can make the difference during a recession, or they can point the way to find it.

Additionally, associations like ours provide information that not only helps our members survive a recession but often can turn it into an opportunity—such as information on new markets or developing niches within changing markets, ideas that cut costs, trends analyses, or the latest scoop on technology advances.

The American Bar Association has compiled this information for you. The various ABA entities have identified products and services for our members that would be helpful during a recession. The list was launched in March; however, it will be ongoing, so please frequent this great resource at http://new.abanet.org/economicrecovery/default.aspx.

The General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division (GP|Solo) is always looking for ways to assist you with your practice. The examples below are just a sampling of the resources and programs designed to help you.

Work smarter. GP|Solo can give you a running start on any project you embark on or problem you need to solve. We have plenty of members who have “been there and done that” and are more than willing to share what they have learned to help you succeed. And remember, the value of a national association is just that—it is focused on member needs from a variety of perspectives. This means that we bring you information and opportunities that local associations just can’t offer.

If you have not already done so, participate on one of the many listserves available, including our most active e-mail list, SoloSez ( www.abanet.org/soloseznet/index.html). Additionally, Legally Minded has a variety of groups that you can join ( http://legallyminded.com).

Utilize your time better. We know that it isn’t easy to get away from the office. That’s why we offer a number of member benefits designed for the time-pressured professional. We have a wealth of CLE available online, and our award-winning magazine, GPSolo, brings you news targeted specifically to people like you and features on a multitude of need-to-know topics. We frequently receive requests from local bar associations and other organizations looking to reprint material from GPSolo, but few articles have generated as much interest as David Leffler’s April/May 2008 “Being Solo” column: “Recession 2008: Ten Steps Solos Should Take Right Now.” If you haven’t taken a peek at it recently, you can read it again online; like all of GPSolo’s content, it’s permanently archived on our website ( www.abanet.org/genpractice/magazine/past-issues.html).

Of course, we cannot forget our e-newsletters, including Technology e-Report, Law Trends & News, and Solo ( www.abanet.org/genpractice/newsletter).

Pursue lifelong learning. When you do have time to attend educational programs in person, the Division offers a variety of events that provide practical information and can benefit you personally ( www.abanet.org/genpractice/events). GP|Solo hosts the annual National Solo and Small Firm Conference, which will be held this year from October 15 to 17 in Los Angeles, California. The goal of the conference is simple: to learn from one another, forge valuable business relationships, and have fun in the process. Our seminars bring you the best and brightest in the legal industry, speaking on a wide range of topics.

Another great way to learn is to participate in a committee ( www.abanet.org/genpractice/committee). These committees offer you the best informal education through one-on-one interaction with other members who share your interests and face similar challenges.

Find solutions.We believe our job is to help you find solutions to your everyday challenges. Besides our highly rated educational programs, we offer you numerous other sources for solutions. Our online Resource Center, which you are free to peruse at any time, contains an extensive collection of resources on a wide range of topics ( www.abanet.org/genpractice/resources).

The most recently compiled resources page explores cost recovery practices ( www.abanet.org/genpractice/resources/costrecovery/index.html). Approximately 50 percent of members who responded to our survey do recover costs for their online research. The resource page presents a variety of documents and information to help you determine if you can recover costs, too.

Network. In these times, networking is more important than ever. A recent report issued by a career website noted that online networking is moving closer to the mainstream as Web 2.0 social networking sites such as LinkedIn gain traction. You should join the SoloSez Friends LinkedIn group( www.linkedin.com/groupsDirectory?results=&sik=1235596167915&pplSearch Origin=GLHD&keywords=solosez) as well as SoloSez’s Facebookgroup( www.new.facebook.com/s.php?q=solosez&init=q#/group.php?gid=7028431926) so that you connect more frequently with other professionals.

But being virtual is not enough. GP|Solo offers outstanding and accessible local networking opportunities with SoloSez gatherings. You never know when that person sitting next to you will open the door to your next opportunity.

Additionally, the ABA has revitalized the State Membership Chair program, with the goal of establishing a local presence for our national association. This program provides leadership opportunities for lawyers who wish to become more involved in the ABA. State Membership Committees are asked to develop activities that will create an ABA presence in each state. Activities may include attendance and speaking at swearing-in ceremonies and law school orientations; coordination with other ABA members to offer networking events or informational programs; or development of a grassroots campaign to address regional issues. To find your State Membership Chair, please contact me directly (312/988-5636 or Kimberly.Anderson@americanbar.org).

Be a voice for the solo and small firm lawyer. As you know from experience, some members want to be actively involved—serving in volunteer roles—and others don’t. If you are one of those people who want to volunteer, the good news is that volunteer positions are not limited to those who have been members for many years. We fill numerous committee assignments each year with new members, as well as long-standing members. In other words, you can have a voice in the future of GP|Solo.

On the flip side, if you don’t consider yourself a “joiner” and have no desire to serve on a committee, that’s fine, too. We have members who limit their involvement to reading our monthly publications and e-newsletters, visiting our website, or contacting us when they have specific needs. In other words—how involved you become in GP|Solo is entirely your call. The value is there, no matter what.

We also give you a “voice” in another important way—on issues affecting you and the legal industry. GP|Solo is tuned into the issues that matter most to you and is able to take a highly visible stand.

Now more than ever it’s time to reacquaint yourself with the resources and networks available to you as a GP|Solo member. You’ll be glad you did.

Kimberly Anderson is Staff Director of the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division; she may be reached at 312/988-5636 or anderski@staff.abanet.org.

Copyright 2009

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