Volume 20, Number 5 July/August 2003


The Year in Brief

By Karen J. Mathis

Let's reflect on our Section's many accomplishments during the past 12 months. Did you know that our Section is growing faster, by percentage, than any other Section in the American Bar Association? Not surprising when you recognize that our constituency includes solos, small firm lawyers, general practitioners, and military lawyers. We are the portal into the ABA for all of these lawyers-the "main street lawyers of America." We have made significant strides in the Section's outreach to law students, young lawyers, military JAG officers, and lawyers in transition.
Our Section embraced a Renaissance theme this year, and we have "rethought, renewed, and retooled." Our Fall and Spring Section Meetings continue to be a major draw to members, and we were joined in San Diego and Baltimore by luminaries of the bar and nonprofit organizations. The ABA's Immediate Past President, Robert Hirshon, and the President-Elect Nominee, Robert J. Grey, addressed us about the power of the law for good, the positive differences we make in the lives of Americans, and the future of our profession. Local and state bar leaders in California and Maryland welcomed us and inspired us with stories of the work of lawyers in their communities; we are grateful to them for helping us rethink our roles as attorneys. Connie Matsui, national president of Girl Scouts of the USA, and Marsha (Marty) Evans, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, spoke to us at Section luncheons about giving back to our communities and our profession.

We are proud of our public service project, Tolerance Through Education, which sponsored training workshops and demonstrations of the project in third-grade classrooms in San Diego, Seattle, Baltimore, and San Francisco. This initiative, designed for lawyers to help strengthen our society's commitment to diversity by promoting respect among children for those who look or act differently or hold different beliefs, renewed our spirits while we interacted with grade-school children.

We have enjoyed superb CLE programs on estate planning, communications skills, technology, real estate, and environmental law, helping us stay current on the law and retool to meet the demands of our practices. The Section will reprise its acclaimed one-day seminar, Solo Day, at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco on Friday, August 8, 2003. Other Annual Meeting CLE programs will include "Business Bankruptcy for the Rest of Us," "Demon in the Belfry: A Historic San Francisco Murder Meets Today's Technology," and "Best Program for Real Lawyers."

We celebrated the heroes among us with the Section's first Difference Makers Dinner, honoring Laura Farber, Harry Hathaway III, Lieutenant Colonel (Sel) James Durant, Mary Pat Toups, and Jarvis Wyatt. They are law students, young lawyers, senior lawyers, and military lawyers chosen for their work to break down barriers of gender, race and ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation.

Our Section's military traditions continue in San Francisco with our cosponsorship of the Second Annual Military Dining Out to be held on Friday, August 8, 2003, at the Marines' Memorial Club. It will be an evening of tradition, ceremony, and high humor. What an opportunity to celebrate our Section's strong connection to the nation's military lawyers, and we are all invited!

Our periodicals GPSolo and Solo Newsletter continue to provide cutting-edge articles, checklists, and news essential to our members, and we added two new electronic newsletters, GPSolo New Lawyer and Technology eReport, that bring our annual periodical offerings to 20. These periodicals give our members outstanding value for their membership dollars, made possible in part owing to the significant corporate underwriting of West; we thank West for recognizing that our members deserve the best information from their home in the ABA.

Your Section has been active in the governance of the ABA and in its policy-making body, the ABA House of Delegates. As challenges facing the profession arise, your Section's leaders review the impact they will have on you and your fellow members. The Section's Council has debated important issues concerning multi-disciplinary practice, multi-jurisdictional practice, alternative dispute resolution, the sale of law firms, and corporate governance and responsibility. National legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley notice requirements, the USA Patriot Act and money-laundering concerns, the bankruptcy reform legislation and its draconian provisions, and the SEC's proposed rules that may impact lawyers' historical relationships with their clients-all have been examined by the Section with the goal of representing your interests.

The Section is not just responding to the current issues of our time. It is also staying abreast of the trends that will affect our profession in the future-particularly for those of us in solo or small firm settings. The economics of law practice, technology, the commoditization of legal services, competition from nonlawyers' services, globalization, and the size of firms are all subjects of great concern to you and to the Section. The leaders and active members of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section will continue to work hard on your behalf, helping to achieve the preferred future of the legal profession. They, and I, appreciate your support for these efforts by becoming and continuing to be a Section member.

I now pass the mantle of leadership to a stellar ensemble of Section leaders-William T. Hogan III, Lee S. Kolczun, Dwight L. Smith, John P. Macy, and Charles A. White Jr. They welcome your thoughts, your suggestions, and your support. Thank you for allowing me to serve as Chair of our superb Section.

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