General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionMagazine

The Chair’s Corner / Sharon C. Stevens

It is my pleasure and privilege to serve the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division as chair for the 1999-2000 bar year. The Section continues to search for new and expanded services and benefits that will enable our members to meet the challenges of general, solo, and small firm practice in the twenty-first century.

As always, the Section is looking for the programs, products, and publications that our members want most. We want to help our members, in all practice settings, practice law more efficiently, productively, and profitably.

Toward these goals, the Section’s programs this year emphasize our outreach efforts. We are proud of our outreach program for state, local, and regional general practice, solo, and small firm groups. We have worked hard to identify these groups and form relationships with them. We have identified like-minded groups in nearly every state and in the District of Columbia, and it is one of my goals this year to complete our count to include bar groups in all 50 states.

Each year, state and local bar leaders and volunteers are invited to our Leadership Conference; newsletter editors are invited to a Newsletter Editors Conference in the spring. The NEC will be held in conjunction with the ABA’s TECHSHOW again this spring. We also communicate through GP Link, the newsletter of the GP Link Committee that coordinates our outreach efforts to state and local bar groups. This year, the GP Link Committee has an expanded membership roster and budget, enabling the committee to form a visitation team that will take our services and resources to these groups via site visits and through regional roundups.

And now, the answer to the most frequently asked question about my year as chair: "Why Cleveland?" Well, "Cleveland Rocks," and that is the theme of the Section’s Fall Meeting and Leadership Conference on October 7-10, 1999. The Cleveland Host Committee has put together an exciting and energetic schedule of CLE programs, leadership training, committee meetings, and, of course, social events.

The real reason for our Cleveland location, however, is the city’s central location and easy accessibility for a host of state and local bar members; general, solo, and small firm practitioners; and law students from Ohio and surrounding states.

The Section’s Spring Meeting will be held in Naples, Florida, and, again, we will invite state and local bar members to share our educational programs, meetings, and social events. We will be joined in Naples by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. As I am the first woman to chair the Section in its 37-year history, this joint meeting seems particularly appropriate.

The Section’s Solo and Small Firm Division will host our popular "Solo Day" at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Dallas, Texas, in February, and again at the ABA Annual Meeting in New York in July 2000. Solo Day is another outreach to our members, other association members, and members of state and local bar associations near our host city. Solo Day is designed to assist solo and small firm practitioners make the most of their practices. The Sole Practitioner and Small Firm Committee is in the third year of a three-year program plan. In prior years, practitioners were given the best tips for "getting the work in" and "getting the work out." Now comes the fun part: "getting paid"—the theme of this year’s Solo Day.

As you know, the ABA is going to London, England, in conjunction with the 2000 Annual Meeting. The 2000 Annual Meeting begins in New York on July 6-10, 2000, and continues in London for educational programs and some fabulous events. The ABA’s London 2000 Committee asked the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division for a program proposal addressing the needs and concerns of solo and small firm practitioners in America and Great Britain. The Section is proud that our program was selected as one of only 18 plenary programs to be sponsored by the ABA in London. Other ABA entities with solo and small firm constituencies are participating in the planning and are co-sponsoring the program.

I am dedicated to the Section’s efforts to meet the needs of the general practitioners, solos, and small firm lawyers. I am a small firm lawyer; I practice with my spouse in a small city in Oregon. My partner/spouse plays lots of golf, so I identify with solos, as well! Please help us help you. Let us know what you want to see in print and in programming. We welcome your involvement in Section activities and your attendance at any of our meetings. Along with other Section officers and staff, I welcome your comments or suggestions at any time.

The Section is planning a great year as we enter the new century. We look forward to new and renewed relationships with sponsors, with state and local bar entities, with other ABA entities, and, most importantly, with our members. CL

Sharon Stevens practices in Keizer, Oregon, in the two-person firm Callahan and Stevens, along with husband Mike Callahan. Their practice emphasizes employment, personal injury, workers' compensation, and family law. She is the first woman chair of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division.

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