General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionTechnology & Practice Guide

The Compleat Lawyer, Summer 1996, Vol. 13, No. 3

The Chair's Corner

John W. Clark, Jr.

Phoenix has special meaning for me. Some of the most significant events of my life took place there five years ago during the 1990 General Practice Section Fall Meeting. My personal life received and answered a real wake-up call, the GPS Nominating Committee gave me the nod as Section Secretary, and the meeting focused upon "Thinking Outside of the Box."

This year, our Section directory encourages us to "Think Outside the Box." I think we've done that this year. I know that most new ideas are often repackaged old ones, but I've enjoyed the journey we've made thinking outside the box. This year, we openly acknowledged our commitment to solo and small firm practitioners when we voted to change the Section name. This change has been approved by the Section Council, the ABA House of Delegates, and the ABA Board of Governors. Now, we await our membership's approval of the name change.

A name change alone does nothing to enhance the true value of GPS and ABA membership. We must continue to create, encourage, and pursue the philosophy, ethos, product, and programs that deliver significant value to our membership.

The town hall meeting isn't an original notion, but this year it's been invaluable to the General Practice Section. Lots of innovations have been incubated and nurtured, barriers broken, and common ties strengthened at the town hall meetings. Everyone who attends has seized the opportunity to speak.

As I write this column, I'm getting ready for the Section's Spring Meeting in Puerto Rico. My decision to hold the meeting in Puerto Rico has not been without controversy, but I selected this venue for an atmosphere where we can openly and frankly discuss quality of life issues.

Our town hall meeting in San Juan will focus upon continuing legal education. The ABA is at a crossroads, and so are we. Do we move forward with the ABA, or do we look elsewhere to bring you practical, affordable CLE programs? Write or call me or e-mail the Section (genpractice@abanet.org) to share your point of view.

Stay Tuned
Over the past years, we've created a strong framework within the Section to reach out to our members through state and local bar groups. Our Fall Meeting is designed to help state and local bar leaders plan their year while sharing common goals, problems, and solutions. The Newsletter Editors' Conference held in Dayton this spring really came alive.

We've worked with other ABA Sections to create programs that meet solo and small firm practitioners' needs. During a recent conference with other Sections, we gained the support of the ABA senior management. President-elect nominee Jerry Shestack has encouraged us, and we thank him for his support.

Our publications and periodicals boards have worked hard to explore ventures with other Sections to create magazines, books, and products of common interest and practical value to you. I don't know what the future holds, but stay tuned.

In the May 1996 issue of the ABA Journal, Executive Director Robert Stein acknowledged that most of the ABA is made of solo and small firm practitioners. I thank Bob for his willingness to step forward and work for our common good. His support will go a long way.

Well, folks, I've pontificated enough. Now, it's time to thank this year's sponsors. We wouldn't have had our fall and spring programs without them. Fee for Services, Inc., Lexis, West Publishing, Public Service Company of Arizona, Peabody Coal Company, Anheuser Busch, Lawyers Coop, Lawyers Weekly, and Engineering Animation, Inc., gave us substantial personal and financial support. We owe our Native American and quality of life programs to them.

And now for my final note of gratitude--a special thanks to my wife Barbara, my secretary Harolyn, our Staff Director Susan Stewart, and ABA President Roberta Cooper Ramo. Lots of people in my life have helped me make this journey, and I thank all of you. The lights are still on.

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