What an Incredible Ride

By John P. Macy

Thank you, thank you, thank you. No one could have prepared me for this journey. Little did I know when I climbed aboard as engineer of this fast-moving train what this year would bring. My goal was simple. I just wanted to keep the train on the track moving in the right direction while maintaining the speed and momentum established by my predecessors. As best I can tell, the train has not derailed. We have made progress, and the speed has been pretty well maintained. This is not to say that there have not been bumps along the way, but the Division has remained strong and true to its mission.

First, I would like to thank the Officers who have been extremely supportive: Keith McLennan, for making me see the practicality of a situation and oftentimes the humor (especially when things got tough); Bob Zupkus, for frequently picking up the pieces with a quick note here and a reassuring comment there; James Durant, for calling weekly to keep things on track by bringing me up to speed on what was happening, both up and down the line; Charlie White, for being Charlie, constantly coming up with ideas and no matter what was going on in his life, keeping in mind how it might help the Division; Stan Riffle, for putting together the budget and making all of us follow the same, and also for making the tough reimbursement decisions and always being there; Dwight Smith, for his ability to eloquently say what needed to be said in order to get the job done; Bill Hogan, for mentoring me during these many years; Lee Kolczun, for trying to teach me his organizational skills; and Wynn Gunderson, for all of his fatherly advice. To all of you, a very special thanks. I wouldn’t have been able to keep the train running without you.

I would also like to thank the Directors, Joe DeWoskin, Jennifer Rymell, Laura Farber, and Amy Lin Meyerson, for constantly working to keep the Committees-the heart, soul, and backbone of the Division-working. It is my understanding that more Committee Reports have been filed this year than any previous year. You have raised the level of Director to new heights, and for this I say thanks.

Next, a very special thanks to the GPSolo Editorial Board. jennifer rose and the Board did an outstanding job of taking a few of my thoughts and creating four fabulous issues of the magazine. Starting with the theme of "Do Something," they really did do it with that issue. The third edition of "Bumps in the Road" was once again well received by the entire American Bar Association and a help to all. The "Solo Day" edition was filled with valuable information and will actually be an ongoing project highlighting Solo Days throughout the country on the website. The "Diversity" edition truly accomplished its purpose. Once again, thanks to jennifer and the Board for your patience, endurance, and talent.

Another group that has really been in the forefront was the Programs Committee. David Lefton and the various Committee members have taken on the incredible task of transforming what was once a simple CLE committee into the WestLegalEd Committee, ABA CLE Committee, Webinar Committee, etc., etc. Congratu-lations on your successes. All your hard work will benefit the Division for years to come.

To all of the other Committees, including, to name but a few, the Membership Committee, Trish Sexton and her group for initiating new programs and ideas; the Corporate Sponsor Committee, Alan Olson and his team for working so hard to keep our sponsors happy and raising the bar in fund-raising; the Awards Committee, Betty Adams and the rest, for reorganizing the awards program and dinner; the Meetings Committee, David Lefton, for making the Fall and Spring Meetings such a success; and the Publications Committee, Mike Hurley, and his workers for continuing the development of the books program, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Obviously, the length of this column precludes me from mentioning everybody. I am sorry if I failed to mention what you specifically did-I do appreciate, though, everything that all of you did all year long. I was truly blessed to have so many members working so hard. I have stated many times, we are all volunteers, just trying to Do Something for the Community, the Profession, and Ourselves. I am amazed at the time and effort all of you expended to make the Division what it is.

Lastly, I want to thank the staff. To Marianne Braverman, Alexa Giacomini, Dee Lee, Nicole Nikodem, Laura Ramirez, and Gordon Wright, none of this would have been possible without you. We started the year by losing Doug Knapp and Lara Trujillo, and the rest of the team stepped up to fill the void. As Chair, I never noticed a misstep. I never received a complaint. I never felt that anything was not being done in a timely and organized manner. Gordon and Nicole joined the team, and the rest of the staff made their education process seamless. They both jumped on the train and did everything they could to keep things moving. Alexa was an incredible Division Director. I cannot say enough about her abilities to assist the Officers, calm the volunteers, and keep the staff working as a team. She will be greatly missed. When she left, Laura and Dee were once again asked to take on additional responsibilities, as they had been earlier in the year. They did so again without complaint or excuse. They are two of the best in the ABA, and we all should be very proud and pleased they have chosen to work for our Division. To all of the staff, again, thank you, thank you, thank you.

On a personal note, I want to thank Sandi Brand for all her patience and support, and my firm and especially my administrative assistant, Dolly Ramos, for all her hard work. Without them, there clearly would have been a train wreck or two during the year.

In closing, I know that we have all Done Something for the Community and the Profession, and I can only hope that you have found the time to Do Something for Yourself also. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Privacy Notices and Other Ineffective Warnings

By Keith B. McLennan

The theme of this issue of GPSolo is privacy. We’ve all read notices from various financial institutions saying such things as "we respect your privacy," or "our privacy policy is…," or "we are concerned about your privacy." I am sure you have become saturated with these notices, which end up in the same place as the ones I receive: the circular file. These privacy notices-along with warnings on ladders or the Surgeon General’s warning on a pack of cigarettes-although well intentioned, are ineffective.

The privacy notices stem from the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which was similarly well intentioned, but which some would argue has cost us a great deal while returning few of the envisioned benefits. We lawyers are often erroneously accused of creating this atmosphere of protectionism, paternalism, and legislation against stupidity. Of course, the pundits fail to mention that behind every lawyer there is a client who has sought representation as a result of some fact pattern that caused damage or injury.

All of this has influenced me in developing the theme for this coming Bar Year. I have built upon John Macy’s theme of "Do Something for the Profession, Your Community, Yourself" with "Simplify Your Practice, Your Profession, Your Life." We have a saying in our office that "nothing is ever easy." Yet when we analyze the circumstances when we say this, we discover it does not have to be that way. We tend to make things more complicated, either in an effort to be overly sensitive or protective of a certain agenda or interest group. Although that is a noble goal, it tends to make things more difficult.

As GPs, solos, and small firm practitioners, we need simplification in order to effectively compete, make a decent living, and preserve valuable time for friends, family, and ourselves. This Division is uniquely positioned to assist you to simplify your practice, simplify your profession, and simplify your life. The quest to simplify kicks off with the Fall Meeting in our nation’s birthplace, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 4 to 7, 2007, featuring the National Solo & Small Firm Conference, a program chock full of tools and tricks of the trade to make your practice more efficient. Check it out online at

At that same meeting of your Division, we will bring in all of the key leaders of the various committees to jump-start the year and help us produce the services and products that you have come to enjoy and rely upon, such as our periodicals, books, e-newsletters, web resources, practical CLE, webinars, and that all-important network of lawyers that I call the largest law firm in the world, with more than 30,000 partners. This assembly of the best and the brightest is impressive as diverse groups of people come together to contribute to the cause of serving GP, solo, and small firm practitioners just like you. I challenge you to be a part of that; contact me to become more involved.

We then travel to Los Angeles from February 6 to 12, 2008, for our traditional working meeting in conjunction with the entire ABA at the Midyear Meeting. At that time we will evaluate the products and services of the future, as developed by the Long Range Planning Committee.

From May 1 to 3 the Division’s Spring Meeting comes to New Orleans, where we will provide services to help that city recover from Hurricane Katrina. Inasmuch as folks in New Orleans had to simplify to survive, we should learn how to do likewise from their example. If there is any meeting you cannot miss this Bar Year, it is this one. We are quartered at the Royal Sonesta Hotel right on Bourbon Street, within walking distance to the world-renowned New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival held that same weekend.

Finally, we conclude the year with the ABA Annual Meeting in New York City, August 7 to 12. There will be events galore for every attendee in the world’s most exciting city.

I hope that you can participate in some way during the year. We are an open shop and need your insight in order to deliver the products and services you need to simplify. I don’t want to go the way of ineffective privacy notices or warning labels on ladders or cigarettes, but if you miss these opportunities, you will miss your best chance to regain control of your practice and be proactive instead of reactive-by simplifying your practice, your profession, and your life.

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