GPSolo Magazine - April/May 2004

It’s Your Business

It’s your business to know your client’s business, even if you aren’t the client’s business lawyer. If your client has any kind of medical history, works for a living, volunteers with the Red Cross, or just sits around all day long in front of the computer, the client will have some business law issues that you never may have considered. Your client doesn’t have to be CEO of the Widget Factory to have business law questions that you’ll need to answer. Even an ordinary, run-of-the-mill family law client is apt to present business law questions.

It’s amazing how much about a client’s business lawyers learn on the job. And from our clients. Never hesitate to ask a client about some aspect of the business—even if it’s as simple a question as “How is a widget made?” It’s not as if you’re asking for insider information or the secret formula for Coca-Cola. Read a few of your client’s trade publications. When I practiced in southwest Iowa, Veterinary Economics and Farm Journal were as essential to my practice as the ABA Journal.

When was the last time you made a house call to your client’s place of business? Meeting with a client on his or her home ground can provide valuable insight into the client’s business—and impress the client. Obviously, this may not be practicable if your client works at the local nuclear power plant, and maybe it’s not comfortable if your client works at the county morgue. Visiting the client’s business can open new doors to additional business from that client or the client’s employees. And it gets you out of the office for some fresh air.

This issue, themed “The Client’s Business,” is among the most interesting we’ve published. Trying to frame a slate of articles that present the business-related topics most frequently faced by general, solo, and small firm practitioners was a tough task, but our issue editor, Judy Toyer, counsel for employment law and personnel relations at Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York, did an outstanding job of seeking out the experts in the field to write and put the polish on the issue, reprising her success from the April/May 2002 issue (“How to Get the Job Done”).

From the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) to nonprofits, employment law, venture capital, leases, business formation and appraisals, to software licensing and getting a piece of the action, there’s something in this issue that will appeal to every reader. Whether you’re a business lawyer representing a firm whose stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange or a rural practitioner whose clients trade livestock, this issue has something for you. Even if it’s only for your own business.

Have you searched your office library for a back issue of GPSolo, trying to get your hands on that article you read years ago about widgets? Look no further. Past issues of GPSolo and its predecessor versions are now online at

What’s in store for upcoming issues of GPSolo? The June issue of the Technology and Practice Guide will be all about the Digital Litigator. Jeffrey Allen and his team have been hard at work bringing you some genuine surprises. And “We Are a Team,” the July/August issue, will focus upon how teamwork can work for lawyers. On the horizon, we’re bringing you issues that will address the bumps in the road, the military, collections, reinventing your law practice, and professionalism and ethics. I think you’ll find GPSolo filled with information that just can’t be found anyplace else.

Jennifer J. Rose, editor-in-chief of GPSolo, is a lawyer and writer living in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico. She can be reached at


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