General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionTechnology & Practice Guide

The Chair's Corner

by John W. Clark, Jr.

In October 1995, the General Practice Section did something never before attempted by this Section: the American Bar Association and the Native American Bar Association met together in Sedona, Arizona, for our Section's Fall Meeting, the Native American Law Conference, and the Eleventh Annual Leadership Conference. This event drew an unusually large number of participants. Nearly two hundred people who attended this meeting left with a deeper appreciation of the cultural and legal issues of Native Americans. I know that I returned with renewed spirit and a sense for others within American society.

I am grateful to President Albert Hale of the Navajo Nation. A practicing New Mexico attorney, President Hale, along with ABA President Roberta Cooper Ramo, assured this meeting's place in the history of the Section. I thank Arvo Mikkanen, President of the Native American Bar Association, for his efforts. Kay Bridger-Riley deserves credit for her untiring diligence as program chair. I appreciate the Section staff for behind-the-scene and on-site labors in making the Sedona gathering successful. I owe each of you a debt of gratitude, as well as others whom I haven't named here.

We looked beyond the box, and we found answers.

In Active GPs, you will find news about the Section Council's unanimous decision to recommend changing the Section's name in order to emphasize our commitment to solo and small firm practitioners. I am a solo practitioner, and I welcome the Section's action to recommend the change of the Section's name from the General Practice Section to the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division. I really hope that the ABA House of Delegates will allow the name change and amendment to our bylaws to underscore our continuing and direct interest in the role of the solo and small firm practitioner in the organized bar.

Old rules must be rewritten and old boundaries must be redrawn for the ABA to be perceived as a friendly home to many solo and small firm practitioners. We laud the continuing efforts, but the ABA can do more. Our most recent Section survey shows that more than 79 percent of our members are solo or small firm practitioners. That is the reality!

We must not forget our roots as we reach out to the solo and small firm practitioner. Most solo and small firm practitioners are also general practitioners. And general practitioners, too, practice in a variety of settings from large firms to corporations to public agencies. Our interests overlap, and this Section has and always will be open to all lawyers without regard to firm size or specialty. I am encouraged by the unanimity of our Council, especially those not in private practice, in urging the change of our Section name. This enthusiastic support from all sectors convinces me that the Section is heading in the right direction.

In the past decade, many general practice sections of state and local bar associations have changed their names to precisely target solo and small firm practitioners. California, Colorado, and Arkansas are some that have done so. While the Dallas Bar Association has no general practice section, the solo and small firm committee is vibrant. The State Bar of Texas has no solo or Small Firm Division, but its general practice section is considering a name change. Please voice your comments about the suggested name change to our Section leaders and your local bar group. Our Council has reached beyond the boundaries of convention, and I am pleased with this step.

I hope that by the end of my term I can say, "I am pleased to be a member of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section."

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