The Last Waltz

By jennifer j. rose

This is my 48th editor’s column–and my last. After 12 years as Editor-in-Chief, it’s time to turn over the best job in the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division–if not the entire American Bar Association–to someone else. Serving in this role has been a heady, rewarding, sometimes frustrating and time-consuming experience, but it’s been the best job–and yes, it’s unpaid–I’ve ever held down in my life.

We were still using Windows 3.1 and WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS when I came on board. Among our readers today are practicing lawyers who weren’t even in junior high school back then. A first-class postage stamp jumped all the way to 32 cents. Jerry Garcia and Mickey Mantle both had just died. Website, intranet, McJob, soccer mom, meatspace, and e-commerce were the hot new words understood only by the cognoscenti. Not many envisioned that the then-nascent Internet would really catch on, and many lawyers didn’t even have e-mail. Netscape was in its infancy, and Google wasn’t even a research project yet. Bill Clinton was in his first term as president, and had just opened up its doors. Authors submitted manuscripts on paper or a 3.5-inch floppy disk, delivered by the U.S. mail or FedEx.

Originally known as The Compleat Lawyer, the magazine christened itself GPSolo in 2000. We’ve gone from a quarterly magazine to publishing eight print issues each year, accompanied by a family of e-zines. We were among the first of all ABA magazines to publish full content online. We’ve innovated, we’ve taken some risks, and we’ve gone beyond commonly accepted boundaries in an effort to publish a magazine that’s relevant, useful, and entertaining to our readers. Technology & Practice Guide special issue editor Jeffrey Allen swears that a future issue may even harbor a centerfold, and we are going to hold him to that promise. We have collaborated with other ABA entities ranging from the Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs to the Section of Science and Technology Law to create content. This magazine has seen significant changes during its 24 years of life, and I’m proud and honored to have been part of that process. The credit for shaping GPSolo into the standard-bearer and premier magazine published by the ABA belongs to our staff editors and designers, the members of our editorial board, the Division leadership, and, of course, each and every member who reads the magazine.

For every ABA member who participates in committee work and attends meetings, there are thousands who belong just for its publications. There are readers who’re off in places like Papillion, Nebraska, Marble Falls, Texas, and Culver City, California, and whose only involvement in the GP|Solo Division is reading its magazine, and, frankly, those are the ones who are the most important. GPSolo doesn’t belong to the Division leaders, most of whom hold only transitory roles; it belongs to the rank–and–file readers who couldn’t tell you the name of the Chair of the Division without flipping over a few pages—and could care less who that Chair might be.

This issue is all about privacy and matters that are none of your business. Privacy means a lot more than keeping secrets or the impact of a federal law passed in 1974; it extends to the Patriot Act, identity theft, publicly available information, confidentiality and privilege, damage control after the horse has been let out of the barn, and even old client files and keeping mum in a shared office setting. The web has shortened the leap from the New World to the Old, and new rules apply. New York City business lawyer David Leffler, who writes the Being Solo column for this magazine, took charge as issue editor, searching out authors, reminding them about deadlines, cajoling them along, and even threatening to lock up one author in a hotel room in a distant city until he delivered the article. He deserves a hearty round of applause and a heaping serving of sincere gratitude for his efforts.

And now for a preview of what’s ahead. September’s issue brings the Best of ABA Sections, which reprints ABA articles on topical and hot issues. The October/November issue will focus on health, and December’s Technology & Practice Guide will devote itself to electronic rainmaking–using technology to market your practice.

Joan Burda, a lawyer in private practice in Lakewood, Ohio, and Director of the Cleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program, will take over the reigns as Editor–in–Chief of this magazine. She has served on GPSolo’s editorial board since 1999 and is the author of Estate Planning for Same–Sex Couples. I’m thrilled that the magazine is being placed in her capable hands, and I’m eager to see where she will take it next.


jennifer j. rose is Editor-in-Chief of GPSolo magazine, a lawyer and writer living in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico, and Secretary-Elect of the GP|Solo Division. She may be reached at

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