General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionTechnology & Practice GuideAmerican Bar Association
General Practice, Solo, and Small Firm Division
The Compleat Lawyer, Fall 1996, Vol. 13, No. 4
The Chair's Corner
Robert R. Wright III
Several years ago, I was invited to speak to the annual conference of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on how the law would be different 100 years from now. It was an easy project since all of the attendees would no longer be around when my predictions would be judged.
However, most of us will be around in the year 2000. There will be some changes, I think, at least within the ABA. In recent years, as the result of the work of our Section and the Standing Committee on Solo and Small Firm Practitioners, the ABA has placed a much increased emphasis on serving the needs of solo and small firm practitioners. This emphasis can be seen in the ABA's products and policies, and in our Section name change to the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division.
We hope that solo and small firm practitioners will come to realize that their Section home within the ABA--or one of them--is our Section. We have made strides under my predecessor, the very capable John W. Clark, Jr., to coordinate our efforts with those of other Sections that have an interest in the future of solo and small firm practitioners. This effort, we hope, will result in books and other publications as well as continuing legal education programs that are designed with the solo and small firm practitioner in mind.
We will continue our outreach efforts to state and local bar associations through our GP Link program. We hope to develop CLE programs that will be useful at the state and local level and to work jointly with those bars to advance the situations and meet the needs of solo and small firm lawyers. We are also making an effort to extend our outreach to young lawyers within the ABA, seeking to revive the once close relationship between our Section and the Young Lawyers Division.
We hope that our efforts will make a difference by the year 2000 in the economic situation and self-esteem of general practitioners, many of whom are solo and small firm lawyers. Our intent is to serve the legal profession. Our Section will not attempt to deal with the problems in Bosnia, Cuba, or the Middle East. We are not the State Department. We are the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division.
It would be desirable for the ABA to arrive at the same conclusion. Lawyers choose not to belong to the ABA for different reasons. One of the principal reasons is the amount that it costs. The ABA has developed dues requirements that substantially lessen the expense of membership; cost can be based on ability to pay. But the policy is not well-advertised by the ABA itself, and few know about or take advantage of it. One of our ongoing goals is to make the ABA more responsive to its members and would-be members by directing its efforts toward the needs of the profession and by making it possible for almost every lawyer to belong.
By the year 2000, law offices will depend even more on computers; systems such as Westlaw, Lexis, and LOIS; and other technological developments. Our Section must be at the forefront in providing information about advances in technology, particularly as it relates to small law offices. Moreover, we must offer products that are designed to utilize such technology and provide small firms with a competitive edge.
If we are fortunate and energetic, we will preserve intact the role of general, solo, and small firm practitioners as the twenty-first century begins. This will be a major goal of our Section during this year and in the years that follow.
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