General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

A service of the ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division


American Bar Association - Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice

Mar 2008

Committee Highlight

[Photo of Patricia A. Sexton]
Patricia A. Sexton, Chair
GP|Solo Membership Board

The Membership Board, chaired by Patricia A. Sexton, is at the forefront of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division’s vision and mission.

The Board has the important responsibility of recruiting and retaining membership, which includes evaluating membership statistics and recommending membership strategies; continuing research related to specific initiatives, products and programs; educating members about the benefits of membership; developing an incentive program to motivate current members to recruit new members; promoting leadership opportunities to members for both the Division and the ABA at large; and migrating law students to full Division membership after graduation.

In addition to these myriad tasks, the board engaged recently in a project to stimulate future main street lawyers. The Membership Board initiated a program to jump-start young law students' careers, entitled “How to Get a Job in a Small Firm.” This program was presented at the GP|Solo 2007 Fall Meeting in Philadelphia at Temple University's Beasley School of Law on October 4th, 2007. The program was such a success that the board reprised the event at the ABA's 2008 Midyear Meeting in Los Angeles on Thursday, February 7, 2008 at the UCLA School of Law. The expert panel members were Keith McLennan, James Durant, Laura Farber, Elio Martinez and Patricia Sexton, with Anthony Alvarado steering the moderation of the discussion.

Anthony Alvarado moderates the panel discussion at UCLA School of Law, with Patricia Sexton, Laura Farber, James Durant III, and Elio Martinez pictured.

There were approximately 80 eager students in attendance. At the beginning of the program, the UCLA students were provided various written information; including material about the GP|Solo Division, the ABA and an article containing tips on interviewing.

The program consisted of the moderator asking questions to the panel for an hour, with the students then asking their questions of the panel for the remaining 45 minutes. The questions involved where to look for a job in a small firm; how to approach small firms about clerkships or permanent positions; what the firms are looking for in recruits; and what the students should be looking for in the firms. The enthusiasm of the students prompted an immediate follow-up after the discussion. Many students approached the panelists for a more private one-on-one consultation. As the hour drew late, the panelists were quite helpful in accommodating the students.

Following the event, the students were asked to complete and return an evaluation form. The overwhelming majority of the evaluations were extremely positive. The students also provided some good advice in terms of ways the GP|Solo Division may want to enhance the program in the future. The event was capped off with a wine-and-cheese reception, and many of the students stayed and continued discussing the excitement of the challenge before them.

“How to Get a Job in a Small Firm” was a very successful and well attended event. It was quite welcomed by students and highly supported by the UCLA faculty. The GP|Solo Division intends to present the program four times this year, including the events in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The Membership Board has already planned for the Spring Meeting in May 2008 in New Orleans at Loyola University New Orleans's College of Law, and is in the process of planning a program for the ABA's 2008 Annual Meeting this August in New York City.

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