Take Two

By jennifer j. rose

Who says there are no second acts? When F. Scott Fitzgerald scribbled “There are no second acts in American lives” in his unfinished novel The Last Tycoon, the odds are that he wasn’t making reference to the clichéd lead. After serving as editor-in-chief of this magazine from 1995 to 2007, I’m back for Act II. I just couldn’t stay away—I love this magazine. Joan Burda bore the mantle as editor-in-chief admirably during the past three years, raising the bar and bringing it to new heights. Succeeding her will be no simple task.

Out of nearly 500 entries from the English-speaking world, GPSolo magazine was recognized for its “Bumps in the Road IV” (October/November 2009) issue with a 2010 Tabbie Awards Honorable Mention as one of the Top 25 in the Best Single Issue category by Trade, Association and Business Publications International ( The issue, which addressed the mental health, substance abuse, and quality-of-life challenges confronted by lawyers, can be read at Hearty congratulations are due Joan Burda, our staff editor Robert Salkin and senior art director Tamara Nowak, issue editor Jim Schwartz, and the contributors to this issue.

The GPSolo editorial board is one of the hardest-working entities within the Division. We plan the magazine’s issues more than a year and a half into the future, striving to strike balance between soft and hard topics of interest and value to general practice, solo, and small firm lawyers.

Let’s be real honest about what it means to be a member of the American Bar Association’s GPSolo Division. The Division has done many great things to further the lot of general practice, solo, and small firm lawyers, but the most visible and tangible product it delivers to those who pay its dues is delivered to them by a uniformed agent of the federal government eight times a year, with their very own names emblazoned right on the cover. Many members view their membership in the GPSolo Division as a subscription to the magazine and little more. Believe me, there is a lot more—the newly unveiled ABA Smart Soloing Center (, SOLO, Law Trends & News, Technology eReport, The Buzz, the SoloSez listserve, valuable discounts on books published by the ABA and products and services delivered by the Division’s corporate sponsors, continuing legal education, advocacy on behalf of solo and small firm lawyers, and that ethereal defense of liberty and pursuit of justice thing.

This is your magazine, and it depends on your input. Please make suggestions about directions you think the magazine should take. Let us know what you like and what you don’t. We listen. You are our most important reader.

Ethics is the focus of this issue. Many lawyers seem to think that legal ethics is a creature inhabiting only the courtroom and law office, and that ethics is something that pertains only to their dealings with clients, other lawyers, and the judicial system. The reality is that ethics is a living, breathing force that should pervade every waking moment in a lawyer’s life—from a game of golf to social interactions and even bar politics. The core principles of good character and avoiding the appearance of impropriety are still at the heart of ethical practice. “Don’t lie, cheat, or steal” and the Golden Rule remain at the core of all ethics. Legal ethics of a generation past looks quaint and simple in comparison to the smorgasbord of conundrums that advances in technology, the Internet, and practice styles and settings, as well as changes in society, have spawned. Any lawyer who hasn’t navigated the strait guarded by Scylla and Charybdis either hasn’t practiced very long or never had a practice in the first place. As much as the legal profession likes to cloak itself in the robes of Lady Justice, giving lip service to buzz phrases such as “higher calling” and “noble profession,” the concept of “Can I get away with it?” keeps getting in the way, just like a thumb on the scales of justice.

Judy Toyer, a lawyer for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York, shouldered the responsibility as issue editor, and she’s done a yeoman’s job of bringing together a stellar group of authors to write about a broad range of perspectives with practical application in the galaxy of ethical challenges faced by solo and small firm lawyers. She deserves a hearty round of applause and a heaping helping of genuine gratitude for her service.

And now for a preview of what’s on the horizon. December’s Technology and Practice Guide is all about “The Greening of Your Law Practice,” and the January/February issue is themed “What about Me?”. March will bring you the “Best of ABA Sections,” and down the road are issues about small firms in a big world, the connected lawyer, credit, and home.

I hope you’ll join us.


  • jennifer j. rose, editor-in-chief of GPSolo, is a lawyer and writer living in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico; she may be reached at

    Copyright 2010

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