Living the Dream

By Kimberly Anderson

Are you living your dreams? The article “Advising a Client Who Has Won the Lottery” in this issue reminded me of one of my dreams: to win the lottery. I like to dream big, so my winnings are no less than $250 million and I’m the single ticket holder. I know the statistics are against me, but I don’t want to give it up.

I believe that most solos and small firm lawyers are living their dreams. They are able to focus on specific practice areas, and they have flexibility regarding their schedules.

You have to be passionate to go confidently in the direction of your dreams. When I attended the ABA 2010 Midyear Meeting in Orlando, Florida, I witnessed the passion of our members as they advocated for their constituents to pass the new dues rate for solos, government lawyers, and judges. It was an inspiring experience.

Based on this passionate response, the ABA House of Delegates approved a new dues structure that will reduce costs by up to 50 percent for sole practitioners and by 25 percent for those who already receive a discount: government lawyers, lawyers employed by nonprofit legal services programs, and judges. The retooled rates were the result of a comprehensive dues pricing study, which included input from more than 9,000 lawyers.

At the same time, the ABA is making it easier to join and to stay at the ABA by creating flexible payment options, such as installment billing and auto renewals, and by developing new tools and resources to benefit lawyers in their day-to-day law practices.

These changes will bring me closer to realizing another dream of mine (admittedly, a more realistic one): to significantly increase membership in the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division. I know that the Division offers a wealth of information and services to the solo and small firm lawyer, but when I would try to convert a non-member to the ABA and to the Division, the most frequent response that I would receive is that the ABA is just too expensive.

Now this hurdle has been eliminated.

Announcing the changes to the dues structure, ABA President Carolyn B. Lamm said:

We understand that practicing law is changing in myriad ways, and we are poised to help lawyers in diverse practice settings jump ahead of the challenges, no matter what their practice is. It is important for the ABA, as the voice of the profession, to broaden our participation among all lawyers, to make sure they are a part of our organization. We understand the challenges they face and we know what they want are tools and services to help them meet those challenges every day, to help them provide the best possible service to their clients.

Even before Lamm took office last August, she probed the needs of lawyers in a range of practice settings, from solo offices to mega-firms with global branches. “The ABA has always understood that there is no one-size-fits-all in the practice of law,” Lamm said. “The impact of the economic climate on legal professionals has underscored that truth.”

The new dues will take effect with a billing cycle that starts in May. Other dues initiatives and additional tools and services will roll out at the ABA Annual Meeting in August.

In Lamm’s words, “The ABA is America’s bar association, and this dues structure is designed to bring into that tent as many lawyers as we can to provide them with the opportunity to be better lawyers and to give more people the opportunity to serve the administration of justice and the public.”

Sharon Stevens, GPSolo Division Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, said, “The message to solo practitioners all over the country is that the ABA wants you. They are a vital part of this profession and we want to do everything that we can to help them practice more efficiently, more effectively, and be part of the voice of the national association of attorneys.”

Now the pressure is on us to spread the word about the many benefits of the ABA and the GPSolo Division. The best recruitment campaign is your personal story regarding your membership experience. Share the gift of your membership by offering your experiences with the ABA and the GPSolo Division to your colleagues. Be a part of the movement to be the voice of the profession. You’ve gone against the odds by setting out on your own. We are here to cheer you on to success and to help pick you up and brush you off when you fall. We need you to be the cheerleader for the profession that you live and breathe every day. Let’s live the dream together.


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