GPSolo Magazine - September 2004
The Chair’s Corner
How you think is everything. If you think positive thoughts, you will be positive in your approach to life; if you think negative thoughts, you will be negative. As you read this issue of articles from the various American Bar Association publications, your interpretation of these articles will reflect your approach to your practice and your world.
Joe DiMaggio, one of the best ball players ever, considered baseball not just a game played on a field but a way of life. He played passionately during games and practices and made sure his conduct and appearance everywhere were always first class. One of nine children who quit high school and held a number of small jobs before he was asked to join a club team in his hometown of San Francisco, he focused entirely on winning. DiMaggio kept working on his skills, often practicing alone after games for the San Francisco Seals to correct mistakes he had made. He was then traded for $8,500 to the New York Yankees. He would go on to win three Most Valuable Player Awards and lead the Yankees to nine World Series titles. DiMaggio had natural talent, but, because of the way he approached life, he added hard work, a positive attitude, and dedication.
What does Joe DiMaggio have in common with us? It is the way he thought, the way he perceived life. He thought positively. He knew the importance of a positive environment. As solo practitioners, small firm lawyers, military lawyers, general practitioners—whatever our practice setting—we control our lives through the way we think. Negative thinking brings only negative results. As autumn comes upon us, we lawyers may feel like squirrels storing away nuts and acorns for the long, cold winter ahead, working hard, scurrying around to get everything done, racing up that same path in a routine. But if we think positively and maintain a positive environment, we’re bound to succeed.
A squirrel may lose an acorn from time to time; so we, too, may encounter problems. We need to look to people who have overcome those same problems before us. That’s why I enjoy belonging to the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division of the American Bar Association. Through the years, I have been able to accumulate a large number of friends across the country with whom I feel very comfortable. I consider many to be among my very best friends. If I have a question dealing with a legal matter, or with law office management or software, I have a network of people with expertise to rely on. That camaraderie, those fellowships and friendships, and just the knowledge that they’re there are well worth my annual ABA and Section dues. It’s not about rallying around the flag. It’s not about bringing the rule of law to Moldova. It’s not even about debates such as those over abortion rights or the death penalty, debates that bring fame and glory to the lawyers who engage in them. Yes, those are important issues, but many lawyers insist they aren’t relevant to their practice. No, it is more about reaching out and beyond to people in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Oregon. It’s about broadening our horizons. How we think is everything.
As Chair of this Section, I go to many ABA meetings throughout the country. When I go there, it’s about collegiality, it’s about getting out of Dodge, it’s a celebration of being a lawyer. Sure, there are the CLE and the committee meetings and getting the work done. But, as you know, it is so easy to fall into a rut practicing law—the same kind of clients all the time, the same constellation of opposing counsel and judges, even the same issues can make some lawyers feel as though they are extras in the movie Groundhog Day.
Involvement in the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division is a great way to revitalize your life as a lawyer—a way to recharge your batteries and to rethink with a positive attitude. It’s a way to make connections, gain new friends, and establish networks of other lawyers in similar practice settings across the country, even the world. As with Joe DiMaggio, the way we think is everything, and the way we approach the practice of law is determined by the way we think.