GPSolo Magazine - April/May 2004

The Bridge Ahead

Have you ever thought of building a bridge . . . all by yourself? As a small child, I would build them over rain puddles using tongue depressors, but how about an expansion bridge like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge? One person acting alone can’t build that kind of bridge. It takes a team to build a bridge of that magnitude.

It’s been said that lawyers who practice as solos or in small firms don’t play well with others. It’s also been said that bar associations are bastions for lawyers in large firms. Well, neither is exactly correct. At least not in the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section, where lawyers just like you and me build bridges all the time. Some are small, some large, and some in-between.

I’m a solo practitioner in Sheffield Village, Ohio, a community of approximately 3,000 residents. And I’ve been charged with leading the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division through the bar year that begins right after the Annual Meeting this August. As a Section officer, I’ve spent the past three years working as part of a team with past chairs and those who are set to succeed me in planning what promises to be a remarkable year. Building on Chair Bill Hogan’s foundation of “Who Are We,” the theme for the 2004-2005 bar year is “We Are a Team.”

We’re building on a legacy created by former chairs of the Section (the most recent being Mike Massie, Larry Ramirez, Sharon Stevens, Wynn Gunderson, George Ripplinger, and Karen Mathis) as well as legions of division directors, group coordinators, committee and board chairs, and committee and board members—all team members of the GPSSF Section.

But how do bridges, teamwork, and the GPSSF Section all fit together? To me, teamwork means building, maintaining, and using bridges between our members who are law students, newly minted lawyers, lawyers in the military, transitional lawyers, middle-aged and mature lawyers, those in other practice settings, and those who defy categorization, connecting those who are already in solo and small firm practice and leveraging the power of the ABA to make those alliances happen. And it means infusing and seeding the Section with the zest and enthusiasm of new volunteers. A big job—sort of like the Sunshine Skyway Bridge? But as I said earlier, it takes a team to do a big job, because Together Everyone Accomplishes More.

During the upcoming bar year, the Section will reach out to you, all across the country, through its meetings—during the Section’s Fall Meeting in Beverly Hills from October 13 to 17, 2004, during the ABA Midyear Meeting in Salt Lake City from February 9 to 15, 2005, during the Section’s Spring Meeting, held jointly with the ABA Young Lawyers Division, in Miami Beach from May 18 to 25, 2005, and during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago, August 4 to 10, 2005. We’ll be taking the ever-popular Solo Day programs to you during each of those meetings. And for those who can’t leave home, we’ll continue to reach out to you through our Section’s website, through West Legal Ed Center programs, through your state and local bar association, and through electronic programming. Our team will provide programs, publications, and products nonpareil. A big job? You bet it is. But with a team, Together Everyone Accomplishes More.

Because every strong bridge depends upon a variety of materials, skills, and perspectives, we will continue the Section’s commitment to diversity in its activities and approach. It takes all kinds of players to make up a winning team—architects and welders, surveyors and stonemasons, outfielders and catchers. There’s a place for everyone on our team. Even for that solo out in a small village in middle America. Whether you’d like an active role or just want to be a cheerleader, we want to hear from you. Please write me with your comments, suggestions, and criticism, or just to say hello.

Where do you want to go? We’ve got a bridge for you and a place on our team. Why don’t you come join us to make all of us stronger, because Together Everyone Accomplishes More.

Lee S. Kolczun, the guest author of this issue’s column, is Chair-Elect of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division. He can be reached at

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