The 2011–2012 Bar Year is off to a tremendous start. For those of you who have been able to keep up with the whirlwind that is our Division Chair, Laura V. Farber, you would have noted that the Division has been (1) working to deliver visible and valued benefits to members to strengthen the Division’s retention and recruitment ability and to grow revenue; (2) providing pro bono and public service opportunities to train and recruit lawyers, enhance the Division’s reputation, and serve the community and the profession by establishing both a national, long-term pro bono project and also annual public service initiatives at sites of Division meetings; and (3) strengthening diversity efforts to provide training and business opportunities that increase diversity in the Division, the ABA, and the legal profession.
As outlined in Laura’s Chair-Elect plan, for the remainder of this Bar Year the Division will continue to (1) provide substantive benefits to Division members, especially rank-and-file members; (2) institutionalize a program to encourage Division members to provide pro bono and public service; and (3) provide training and business opportunities to help all members expand or strengthen their practice and to develop greater diversity in the Division.
At the 2012 ABA Midyear Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 4, the Division hosted its 50th Anniversary Kick-Off Party to begin the celebration of our 50-year history with guest speakers Dennis W. Archer, ABA Past President and GPSolo Division Past Chair, and Richard W. Martinez, Chair, Solo and Small Firm Section, Louisiana State Bar. The Division had two CLE programs scheduled at the ABA Midyear Meeting: “60 Tech Tips in 60 Minutes,” with Nerino Petro Jr. and Ashley Hallene, and “Diversity and Ethics: How to Go from Well-Meaning to Well-Doing,” with Verna Myers and William Ross, that was co-sponsored by the ABA Young Lawyers Division and the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility.
From May 17 to 19, 2012, the Division will host its Spring Meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. At a historic plantation, the Division will host a 50th anniversary party in true Southern hospitality style.
The 2012 ABA Annual Meeting will be held August 2 to 5 in Chicago, Illinois, where the Division will host its 50th Anniversary Celebration with Honorary Co-Chairs Dennis W. Archer and Karen J. Mathis, both of whom are past ABA Presidents and past GPSolo Division Chairs.
As interactions among the people, companies, and governments of different nations continue to grow, the Division has been keeping pace with globalization of the legal industry. Chair-Elect Commander Benes Z. Aldana, currently stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, took his Chair-Elect planning meeting abroad. Division leaders engaged in his planning meeting November 11 to 12, 2011, at the Law Society of England and Wales in London and strengthened our ties with this organization. From negotiating with and lobbying the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the British government, and other entities, to offering training and advice, the Law Society assists, protects, and promotes solicitors across England and Wales.
During his term as Chair in 2012–2013, Commander Aldana will continue to focus on membership recruitment and retention, with emphasis on helping our members become better lawyers and making our profession better. To that end, he not only wants to look forward to the future, but strategically “Think Forward” as we embark on our 50th year. According to Commander Aldana, this will require us to take an in-depth look at the mission, vision, strategic plan, and work of the Division over the years in addressing the needs of our members and the issues affecting our profession. He hopes to capitalize on the Division’s past successes and the current wave of strong support from ABA leadership to position the Division as the preeminent membership organization in the profession for solo and small firm practitioners. (For more on Benes’ plans, see his guest column in this issue’s “Chair’s Corner”.)
The Division’s 50th anniversary caps off under Commander Aldana’s watch. At our 2012 Fall Meeting and National Solo & Small Firm Conference in Seattle, Washington, the Division will host a black-tie-optional gala celebration that will honor the Division’s past and recognize the contributions of individuals who helped build the organization and paved the way for its work. The ABA leadership and Past Chairs of the Division will be invited to join the celebration. Noah Davis, who serves as Chair of the Host Committee and the National Conference, is planning an inspirational weekend of fun, learning, and opportunity to connect/reconnect with practitioners from across the country. For the first time and after persistent lobbying efforts from long-time member Lynn M. Allingham, the Division will host its 2013 Spring Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, where the Division has garnered the support of both the Anchorage Bar and the Alaska Bar. The 2013 Midyear Meeting will be in Dallas, Texas, hosted by Division members Rick L. Lambert and Christine G. Albano, and the Annual Meeting will be in San Francisco, California.
Judge Jennifer A. Rymell, Vice Chair of the Division, is currently chairing the Long Range Planning Committee (LRP). The goal of the LRP Committee this year is to update the Division’s Communications Plan, which has not been updated since 2001. The Committee is working on strategies and communication goals that reflect the Division’s role as a portal for solos, small firm lawyers, and general practitioners in the ABA. The LRP Committee is working closely with the Division’s Communication Committee in this endeavor. We are hoping to have a new plan by spring 2013.
Our 2013 Fall Meeting will be held in Lexington, Kentucky. Meeting attendees will be able to experience beautiful fall foliage in the Bluegrass State as well as enjoy several local attractions. Racing season will be in full swing at the historic Keeneland Thoroughbred Race Track, and you can join the nearly 2 million visitors during the last five years who have explored the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to learn the art and science of crafting bourbon. Our host committee is chaired by Palmer Gene Vance II, who will be the 2013 President of the Fayette County Bar Association. We will be planning collaborative efforts with the local and specialty bars on CLE and social events during our trip to Lexington.
In spring 2014 we will meet in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the first time in the Division’s history. Jennifer Hilsabeck is Host Committee Chair, and she plans on showing the Division a great time in her hometown. Need we say more?
In Jennifer Rymell’s year as Chair, she is planning a special emphasis on new lawyers who embark on a career as sole practitioners upon their graduation from law school. The Division will focus on creating and marketing affordable products, services, and CLE to help these new lawyers succeed. Jennifer also plans to continue building on the Division’s reputation as the “go to” place for solos and small firm attorneys to access information on law office management skills, business development, networking, and the use of cutting-edge technology.
The 2014 Midyear Meeting will be held in Chicago, and the 2014 Annual Meeting will be held in Boston, Massachusetts.
I, Amy Lin Meyerson, am currently the Secretary of the Division. During my year as Chair in 2014–2015, we plan to continue many of the initiatives undertaken by my immediate predecessors, such as the Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) public service project, diversity, and membership building.
We will encourage our members to:
Reexamine their practices, work/life balance, volunteerism, and other endeavors;
Outfit themselves with additional tools, skills, and equipment; and
Initiate new undertakings, resulting in a positive Return On Investment.
We plan to focus on giving our members the tools they need to best position themselves to win new business and assisting attorneys who have taken some time away from the practice of law to reenter the legal profession. We will continue to partner with other entities both within and outside the ABA.
On June 15, 2015, our friends in the UK will be celebrating the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede. In England, the 800th Committee is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the celebration and is composed of Members of the Trust and others co-opted by the Committee. The Committee Chair is Sir Robert Worcester. The ABA is a recognized Magna Carta member, and Former President of the American Bar Association and Chairman of ABA Magna Carta Committee Stephen N. Zack is on the 800th Committee Advisory Board. During Chair-Elect Aldana’s planning meeting this past November, members of our Division had an opportunity to meet with Sir Robert and 800th Committee Member Lord (David) Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Chair of the Magna Carta Trust and Master of the Rolls. The Division will be collaborating with Sir Robert, Lord Neuberger, and the 800th Committee to accomplish some of the goals set forth for the celebration. Visit www.magnacarta800th.com for more information.
We will be meeting in Houston, Texas, for the 2015 Midyear Meeting and Chicago for the 2015 Annual Meeting.
The future looks very bright for the GPSolo Division. Join us as the Division continues to identify and serve the diverse needs and interests of general practice, solo, and small firm lawyers. The Division will continue to strive to be regarded as the authoritative source of information, as the premier source of professional relationships, and as the representative voice of general practice, solo, and small firm lawyers regarding issues affecting them and the profession overall.
Stay tuned for exciting news and new things to come for the Division. We welcome your questions, comments, and feedback. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.