Four years ago, I wrote a farewell column in this space. Moving on to become Secretary and then Vice Chair of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division, I realized that I’d made a serious vocational mistake and returned to the magazine board, working my way back up as editor-in-chief. And since part of any good act is knowing when to leave, I really am retiring this time around.
Everything I wrote back in the summer of 2007 remains true—except even more history has taken place in those four years. Let’s see what’s happened since then. The Kindle has been released. Legally Minded, the ABA’s online legal community, was released, evaluated, and died without ever leaving beta. The value of homes has gone down as the price of gold went up. Any lawyer who isn’t using an iPad might as well be toting around a fat, wide-lined-paper Big Chief tablet. Not understanding and using cloud computing means a lawyer is likely still using mag cards and carbon paper. Zombie bankers, tweetups, unfriend, flash crash, and wise Latina woman are all now part of our lexicon. Change is the only thing that remains the same.
My tenure as editor-in-chief of GPSolo, spanning three decades and dating back to its previous incarnation as The Compleat Lawyer and a time when some of our current readers were in the fourth grade, has been the most satisfying and rewarding professional experience of my life, within and beyond the American Bar Association.
Credit is as essential to the business of business—and of life—as rain is to the rice field. Without it, we starve and our fields parch; too much spells ruin and destruction. This issue of GPSolo is all about credit, and the credit and heartfelt thanks go to Los Angeles lawyer Jim Menton of Peitzman, Weg & Kempinsky LLP for acting as issue editor, developing and shaping topics, locating authors, and putting it all together. From financing a law practice to converting billables to deposits in the bank, from handling referrals to gaining credibility, there’s something for every reader in this issue.
And speaking of credit, here’s the place where I make the Academy Awards speech, thanking everyone who made all of this possible, insulting those whose names I forget to mention, and boring everyone else. Space limitations prevent me from naming those who are most important—each and every reader and everyone listed on the magazine’s masthead—so I’ll have to settle for extending the deepest gratitude to Alan E. DeWoskin for giving me a road map to the ABA, to John Clark for appointing me as editor-in-chief 16 years ago, to John Macy for keeping the ball rolling, and to Joe DeWoskin for forcing me out of retirement. And to Bob Zupkus, because he understood the importance of the serial comma.
More than a few among the ABA staff have acknowledged a secret mantra they mumble when bar leadership makes their lives and business of earning a living more than just a little difficult: “It’s only a year, it’s only a year, and he or she will be gone.” Anne Bitting, Russell Glidden, Bill McDonough, Tamara Nowak, Claire Parins, and Rob Salkin are owed huge credit for putting up with me for as a long as they have.
Jeffrey Allen, the principal in the Oakland, California, law firm of Graves & Allen, will step into my shoes as editor-in-chief. A prodigious writer, Jeff is well into his second decade as special issue editor of the Technology & Practice Guide issues of this magazine. I can think of no one who is more qualified or more indefatigably dedicated to the GPSolo Division, or who has greater breadth of experience with the needs of general practice, solo, and small firm lawyers, than Jeff. He has been around, working in the trenches, under and through more bar leaders than practically anyone else in the GPSolo Division. I know he’ll take the magazine to a new level.
Writing this 52nd column is one of the hardest tasks I’ve undertaken. Reflecting back on the changes in this magazine, its presentation, and even its focus throughout the years, I realize how much I’ve loved this magazine and all who’ve been a part of it. Thank you for letting me serve you.