TIPS Committee on Solo and Small Firm Practitioners.It's finally here: the new TIPS General Committee on Solo and Small Firm Practitioners is a reality, having officially come into existence at the 1995 ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. As the inaugural chair of the committee, I am pleased to report that the committee is off to a great start. Our officers are in place, we have an initial membership of two hundred, preparations are under way for our first newsletter (in which we hope to print the names and addresses of all committee members), and we are in the process of developing information for a mentors directory for solo and small firm lawyers, which we will be producing in cooperation with the Economics of Tort and Insurance Practice Committee.
This is an exciting time for the solo and small firm lawyer in TIPS, and we expect the committee to be at the center of that excitement. Now that committee membership is open to everyone, we hope you will want to be part of it. If you would like to join the committee, or just want more information about it, please contact the TIPS office.
ABA Committee on Solo and Small Firm Practitioners.In July, the Special Committee on Solo and Small Firm Practitioners hosted a two-day "summit" designed to determine how the ABA can best serve solo and small firm practitioners. Participants in the summit included 104 state and local bar leaders from 46 states. According to Cameron Gamble, chair of the ABA committee, the committee's most important role is to serve as a conduit for information among the states, so that states can profit from each others' experiences in serving the interests of small firm lawyers. The consensus of the group was that the majority of direct services will continue to be provided by state and local bar associations, with the ABA serving as both a clearinghouse for information and a forum for discussion of ideas that might benefit the solo or small firm practitioner.
At the conclusion of the 1995 ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago, the Special Committee on Solo and Small Firm Practitioners became a standing committee further evidence of the ABA's increasing attention to solo and small firm lawyers. Among other advocacy projects, the committee is seeking to convince bar associations to provide affordable law office management advisory and resource services to lawyers and legal staff and to encourage courts to provide on-line access to court and docket information at no direct cost to the user.
TIPS Telephone Seminars.In the last few months, TIPS has embarked on an experimental program that should be of special interest to solo and small firm practitioners: live, interactive telephone seminars. Participants call a central number from any touch-tone telephone and listen to the program (presented live) on special earphones. Time is set aside at the end of the speakers' prepared remarks for the participants to ask questions. These seminars typically last two hours, cost about $80 for TIPS members, and qualify for CLE credit in most states. Written materials are included.
TIPS already has offered several telephone seminars and is in the process of identifying programs from the 1995 Annual Meeting to present in this format in the near future. Watch your mail and this column for information about upcoming programs.
Other Products and Projects of Interest.The ABA has a number of products and projects in the works designed especially for the solo and small firm practitioner. They include:
- A video entitled "What's Hot and What's Not in Small Law Office Technology";
- A clearinghouse on products, publications, and programs of special interest to solo and small firm lawyers (available soon by catalog and on line);
- Access to low-cost legal research through the LEXIS MVP program; and
- A model advertising program for state and local lawyer referral services.
Susan M. Popik