The future looks bright for the Division as it enters its 50th year. It appears that we will begin the 2012–2013 Bar Year as the third-largest Division or Section in the American Bar Association. This is quite an accomplishment, and it is the result in large part to all 50 of my predecessors who have paved the way, and in particular to our current Chair, Laura V. Farber. As a result of their hard work, initiative, and foresight, the stature and good works of the Division have grown. We will continue to build on these successes. As I prepare to take the helm, I want thank all my predecessors, the member volunteers, and the staff for sharing their talent, energy, and leadership in helping the Division come one step closer to becoming the premier national organization for solo and small firm practitioners. With everyone’s help, we can transform this vision into reality in the years ahead, beginning in 2012–2013.
So, what’s ahead for the coming Bar Year? We will “Think Forward!” What does this mean? It means we will embrace and drive change. We will be passionate and determined. We will think outside the box. We will be creative and open-minded. We will connect with our members. It means that in our continuing efforts to provide our members valuable benefits to help them become better practitioners and make the profession better, we will take time to strategically reflect on who we are as a Division. To this end, I have asked the Long Range Planning Committee to go beyond dusting off our three-year plan and really look into developing a strategic vision, mission, and objectives that will position our Division to effectively serve our members and be their voice in the profession.
The focus areas for the upcoming year may best be described as the 4Gs:
- Grow the Division. We will continue to find ways to recruit and retain members by demonstrating the value of GPSolo membership. We will examine who we are, what we do, and what we can do better to serve our members, including taking a hard look at our organizational structure.
- Grow Better Lawyers. Building on our efforts in 2011–2012, we will continue to innovate how we deliver relevant and useful content to improve the practices and businesses of our members, whether it’s through our monthly CLEs or our award-winning publications. We will transform our annual National Solo & Small Firm Conference into the country’s premier forum for solo and small firm practitioners, where they will be educated, inspired, and empowered. In particular, the Conference will focus on programming that assists young and especially new solos to build a successful practice.
- Grow Partnerships. We can’t do it alone; we need partners in order to succeed. We will strengthen our relationships with all the Sections in the ABA and as a Division fulfill our role as a portal for them. We will establish formal and sustained relations with state and local bar associations that have solo and small firm sections. We will continue our outreach and collaboration with the national minority bar associations: Hispanic National Bar Association, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, National Bar Association, and National Native American Bar Association.
- Grow the Profession. As lawyers, it’s in our DNA to want to make a difference not only for our clients but for our profession and our community. In collaboration with the ABA Leadership Coalition for Solo and Small Firm Lawyers and the ABA Standing Committee on Amicus Curiae Briefs, we will be more engaged in advocating the position of our members on issues affecting their practices. We will continue to devote our efforts in promoting the Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) project and train attorneys and advocates, with a special emphasis this year on those representing human trafficking victims. Additionally, we will actively promote and support the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, and at our National Solo & Small Firm Conference this fall in Seattle, Washington, we will convene a roundtable on meeting the legal needs of military families and youth.
When we think forward, we invest not only in the future of the Division and the ABA, but in the future of the legal profession. On behalf of my fellow officers Jennifer A. Rymell, Amy Lin Meyerson, Kathleen J. Hopkins, Joseph A. DeWoskin, and Laura V. Farber, I invite you to join us on this journey today!