March 01, 2015

The Chair's Corner: Work Hard. Do Good. Have Fun.

Stephen B. Rosales

By way of introduction, I am Steve Rosales from Belmont, Massachusetts, a town of 24,000 people about three miles as the crow flies from downtown Boston. During my 35 years in the law thus far, I have practiced in both small firm and solo settings so I am aware of and have experienced all the issues and concerns, the ups and downs that these settings can provide.

I have the privilege of serving this year as Chair-Elect of the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division of your American Bar Association, ascending to Chair this August. We are busily planning what is sure to be a busy and exciting 2015–2016 ABA Bar Year . . . complete with valuable CLE, both in-person and virtually; our first-rate GPSolo magazine and eReport to keep you informed and up to date on the latest topics and practice methods; a regular Brown Bag luncheon series free for Division members; and two exciting Division conferences in desirable, fun locales offering opportunities to learn, network, and socialize with fellow attorneys and guests.

 

Our Theme for the Year Ahead

In keeping with my personal philosophy of life, I have chosen the theme of “Work Hard. Do Good. Have Fun.” for my year as Chair. This theme is to remind and encourage all of us that hard work toward positive goals—whether aspirational, personal, or professional—does not need to be tedious and uninspiring. Hard work and doing good can indeed be fun. If it wasn’t, why would we do it? We work hard as attorneys, and we must not forget the need to have fun in whatever we do, with those we are with and wherever we are. During my year as Chair, I can guarantee these three things: We will work hard, we will do good, and we will have fun!

My theme is also to keep us mindful that we all, as attorneys, are blessed with the opportunities, tools, and analytical skills to give back and use our skills to “do good” in whatever large or small way we desire. Whether it be pro bono services to those in need of legal representation, public service, involvement in our communities, schools, churches, or other organizations, or doing good in other ways to the best of our abilities, we should all strive to “do good” in whatever way we can. Even random acts of kindness or paying it forward will suffice. Giving back and doing good, whether on a large or small scale, makes us all better attorneys and, moreover, better people.

Peoples’ daily lives and schedules seem more packed and stressful than ever. Many of us address and must balance an ever-increasing number of responsibilities on a daily basis. Work commitments, family commitments, financial commitments, health concerns, and the like often seem to dominate our lives, leaving little time for anything else. As Bob Seger sang, “Deadlines and commitments/What to leave in, what to leave out . . . [We’re] still running/Against the wind.” The “have fun” component is to keep us mindful that despite all our daily challenges, we must leave room for some quality-of-life activities. No matter the form and whatever your preference, we all need to enjoy ourselves and, yes, have some fun.

Division Meetings in 2015–2016

From September 24 to 26, 2015, our Solo & Small Firm Summit will take place in my hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. The conference will be held at the luxurious InterContinental Boston Hotel, located directly on the waters of historic Boston Harbor. The conference will offer exciting plenaries with high-profile national speakers and fabulous social events, and it will leave you with plenty of time to explore and experience all that is Boston.

So, come to be inspired. Come to learn some new things. Come to meet and mingle with colleagues from all practice areas from across the nation. This unique event, in a spectacular setting, will provide an all-in-one environment for education, networking, idea sharing, and, in keeping with my theme, fun in a vibrant, exciting city. The weather will be warm, the Red Sox will be in town, and the city beckons to be experienced.

From May 12 to 14, 2016, GPSolo will be traveling to warm and sunny Key West, Florida, for our Spring Meeting held jointly with the Group Legal Services Association. This exciting conference will offer ample CLE, opportunities for networking, idea sharing, committee work, and distinctive social events all in the laid-back tropical atmosphere that is Key West. No ties allowed! The conference will be held at the sumptuous Key West Marriott Beachside Resort. Feel free to come early and leave late. Just don’t forget your flip-flops and sunglasses. This is one meeting you won’t want to miss.

Focus on Elder Abuse

During my term, I will make use of the “bully pulpit” that being Chair provides—not to harangue you all, but to raise your awareness of an ever-exploding problem being faced by the most vulnerable segments of our society: the exploitation and abuse of our elders. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that in 2013 more than 44 million of our citizens were aged 65 and older, the largest segment of our society. This number is expected to increase in the coming years as more Baby Boomers age and will soon comprise more than 20 percent of our entire population. Abuse takes many forms, be it physical, psychological, emotional, or financial. Other forms include abandonment or neglect. Abusers can be institutional such as nursing homes or long-term care facilities, or, more often, caretakers: family members, nurses, home health aides, guardians, or attorneys in fact under a power of attorney. As attorneys, and more importantly, as people—as neighbors, friends, relatives, or acquaintances—we have an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves. In the coming Bar Year we will offer programs and materials designed to help you recognize the signs of potential abuse, understand the various forms it can take, and learn what we can do about it—and how to prevent it. As Mick Jagger sang, “Time waits for no one, and it won’t wait for me.” Everyone grows older. If you are not there already, you will be soon enough. Everyone has the right to grow older with dignity and adequate care. The abused need to be protected, the abusers need to be prosecuted.

Ongoing Division Commitments

But wait . . . there’s more! As if the above is not enough, GPSolo will continue to provide myriad other benefits to its members, including access to:

  • ABA Solo and Small Firm Resource Center (ambar.org/soloandsmallfirms), providing marketing, technology, practice management, CLE, and substantive law resources for solo and small firm lawyers.
  • GPSolo LinkedIn referral group (tinyurl.com/n24dlqt), a social media group where members can connect and make referrals.
  • SoloSez (solosez.org), known as the “virtual water cooler” for solo practitioners, a listserve boasting more than 1,500 subscribers to chat and share their knowledge of myriad subjects. Just put your question out there, and you’ll be astounded at the helpful feedback you’ll receive instantly.
  • Award-winning publications and books.
  • GPSolo’s virtual Brown Bag luncheons (tinyurl.com/bc3rsjf), an ongoing series of hour-long seminars that are free to our members on subjects of topical interest, ranging from the cutting edge to substantive to practice management advice.

So, c’mon along. It is going to be a great year to work hard, do good, and have fun. We look forward to seeing you. Until then, be well.

Stephen B. Rosales

Stephen B. Rosales, the guest contributor of this issue’s column, is Chair-Elect of the GPSolo Division. He is a partner with Rosales & Rosales LLC in Belmont, Massachusetts.