October 01, 2011

The Chair's Corner: Going Home

Laura V. Farber


When I think of the word “home,” I must confess—and those of you who know me will realize how diverse my musical tastes are—I can’t help but think of John Denver’s “Back Home Again” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” These two songs may convey to some the good old home country feeling, and to others something a little more significant and meaningful: being home again and finding your way, no matter how difficult, complicated, or painful it may be to get there. Home is usually what is comfortable, where you can be yourself, a centering point or a point of balance to which you can always return.

When I was a child, I used to think of home as my physical house, and then later I learned that home is where your heart is and where your family is. This can take on a different meaning for military families who are always on the move—not always by choice, but by necessity.

Home takes on a new meaning when you have a family. It can, however, also be a place where we take things for granted, a place we assume will always be available and an option for all. There are some who do not have homes and struggle just to subsist. They do not have the comfort, balance, and center point that home can bring. There are others whose homes are not safe and who need to be removed from their homes, such as children placed in foster care or victims of domestic violence.

And then, of course, for those technology-minded folks, going home is just as simple as pressing the “Go Home” button on your GPS, ensuring that you will have the quickest, shortest, least complicated route to your humble abode.

Regardless of how you define the word “home” or what meanings it may conjure up in your memories, home is a place that can be, and especially now is becoming, more than just a place where you sleep or where you reside with family members and pets. It has, for many, become a place where you can also set up an office and perform legal work. Those who do work at home attempt to master that unique and difficult balance between being home and away from work, on the one hand, and being home and at work, on the other.

For many, the state of technology is such that setting up a home office has become an efficient, easy, and important way of doing business. It is not for everyone, yet we will learn, in this issue, why so many have done it and why it makes sense for many solo and small firm practitioners. We will also learn how you can make the move, what are the legal aspects to consider, and, of course, what technology tips can make this transition smooth, seamless, and successful.

Our issue this month also deals with other important topics such as homeless veterans and youth, homeowners and natural disasters, the legal aspects of employing domestic household help, home ownership for unmarried couples, and the location of a corporation’s “home” (i.e., where it can be sued for venue purposes).

There is another meaning for the word “home,” and that is the “home” that the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division can provide within the American Bar Association. The GPSolo Division is the home for all solos, small firm lawyers, general practitioners, military lawyers, and immigration lawyers. But our home is not limited to the confines of a typical structure with a roof, walls, and shelter. Instead, our home casts a broad net over the largest demographic of lawyers practicing in the United States, providing invaluable support, resources, programs, technology, friendship, and camaraderie with others who do not have the luxury of practicing in a large firm or an environment where ideas can be easily and readily “roundtabled” with colleagues.

It is for these reasons that the e-mail listserves SoloSez and GP-MilitarySez exist, providing a virtual law firm and support group where networking, ideas, resources, and information can be shared among solo and small firm practitioners and military lawyers, respectively. (To join either of these lists, go to the Division’s home page.)

Taking these listserves a step further, the GPSolo Division has started a new initiative, a networking project exclusively for GPSolo members. By the time you read this, it is our hope that this project will be up and running. Specifically, the Division is launching via LinkedIn a networking initiative with a focus on small firm and solo practitioners to allow them to share business referrals, legal questions, support, and resources with other members throughout this country. We are limiting this networking initiative to members of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division to provide value to our members—who are our priority. We are hopeful that this endeavor will lead to new ways of doing business, such that membership in the American Bar Association via the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division will result in business referrals and in obtaining much-needed assistance, especially for clients that have matters in a state where you may not be admitted to practice. Of course, this LinkedIn group will be only as good as the members involved. Accordingly, I encourage you to take an active role by joining. (Just click the link on the Division home page. When you join, you will receive an automatic response that indicates you have to be admitted or invited into the group—this is simply an effort to make certain that you are in fact a member of the Division before clearing your involvement.)

We are very excited about this initiative and are pleased to provide our members with as many tangible, valuable benefits as possible. I would like to thank the Division’s Communications Committee and Technology Committee for their tireless efforts in getting this program up and running and in assisting with spreading the word about what we are certain will be a very successful, useful, and beneficial project.

Similarly, the GPSolo Division is beginning the Women’s Roundtable Project, to be launched at our National Solo & Small Firm Conference taking place October 20 to 22 in Denver, Colorado. Members of the Division (and this is not limited to women only) are invited to attend the Women’s Roundtable in person to share ideas and concerns and to provide support for the unique issues confronting women in solo and small firm settings. The Roundtable will continue via virtual meetings on a regular basis until the Division’s Spring Meeting in Charleston, South Carolina, from May 17 to 19, 2012. Through the Women’s Roundtable, we hope to attract solo and small firm women attorneys and to provide valuable support and resource information to retain women attorneys as members. I want to thank the Division’s Diversity Committee for spearheading this important project.

The Division will, of course, continue to provide programing, support, and resources devoted to making your practice as successful as possible, whether you are a lawyer who practices in a home office or not. We want you to better serve your clients, your community, and our society. To that end, we also encourage you to become a success at balancing your home life, your physical well-being, and your practice to truly make you a balanced, centered, and successful attorney. So if you are either at home, going home, searching for a home, in need of a home, or learning to work and live in your home, the Division has something for you..













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