Solo and Small Firm Conferences Lend Lawyers a Hand

By jennifer j. rose

When it came to organized bar activity, solos and small firm lawyers used to liken themselves to Rodney “I get no respect” Dangerfield. They thought that they didn’t get much in return for their bar dues, that big firm lawyers dominated bar associations and bar activities, and that no one really cared about them. Those times, like the comedy legend, have now passed. Almost two decades ago, the American Bar Association analyzed the lot of the solo and small firm lawyer, and it’s now been more than ten years since the General Practice Section changed its name and focus to recognize and embrace solos and small firm practitioners. Bar associations across the country began to recognize the solo and small firm lawyer as the backbone of legal practice.

In 1996 the Missouri Bar Association held its first Solo and Small Firm Conference, drawing 250 lawyers together for continuing education as well as practical advice about keeping a balance between professional and private lives. In the ten years since its debut, this conference has grown to nearly 900 attendees—the largest solo and small firm conference in the country—under the capable direction of Linda Oligschlaeger, Missouri Bar Membership Services Director, who has come to be known as the mother of the movement.

Other states have picked up the cue, addressing the needs of solo and small firm lawyers. And so, too, has the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division, which last fall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, held the First National Solo and Small Firm Conference, chaired by Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Director Jim Calloway and Ross L. Kodner of MicroLaw. Keep your eyes peeled for the Second National Solo and Small Firm Conference during the Division’s meeting this fall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In this issue of GPSOLO, we gathered program materials from solo and small firm conferences across the country to bring you the best of the best. Picking and choosing from this trove of resources wasn’t an easy job; believe me when I tell you that there was enough material to fill pages and shelves for years to come.

In the coming months, the GP|Solo Division will create a directory of solo and small firm conferences across the country on its website. Let us know about your bar association’s solo and small firm conference. The Division’s Resources » page, and particularly its page about starting and running a law firm », are invaluable aids to your practice.

I’ve written this column with one hand, its companion wrapped up in a cast after a recent injury. But there’s no reason for you to practice single-handedly. The ABA GP|Solo Division and your state and local bars are here to lend you a hand. And give you a leg up.

jennifer j. rose, editor-in-chief of GPSOLO, is a lawyer and writer living in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico. She can be reached at .

Copyright 2007

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