Chair's Corner

A Look Ahead at GPSolo’s 2017–2018 Bar Year

By Stephen D. Williams

Welcome to the 2017–2018 Bar Year. For those of you who don’t know or remember, let me introduce myself: I am the new Chair of the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division of your American Bar Association, and it is my job to see that you, the members, continue to receive the quality products and services that our Division provides you. In the words of our new tagline, “Your Success, Our Mission.”

We have been planning events for the coming year and working on how we can get you, our members, more involved in the Division. Acknowledging that many of you will not attend our meetings (although I would strongly urge you to consider coming) or participate in the Division in ways other than reading your copies of GPSolo, I am happy to announce that this fall we will be unveiling a Division app that will make the Division’s resources more accessible to you. You will be able to access the app on your tablets and smartphones, where you will receive Division e-mails, notifications of upcoming events (including Brown Bags and CLE offerings), and notifications of the release of GPSolo eReport and our award-winning magazine, GPSolo. It will also contain a directory of all members, not just those in leadership, and portals for our committees to do committee business. This app will be a members-only benefit and will have many other features. It is currently in the planning and design stage, with implementation to begin before 2018, hopefully in time for our meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota, in late October 2017.

With this in mind, I hope you will consider joining your fellow members at one of our Division meetings this upcoming year. First will be our Solo & Small Firm Summit at The Saint Paul Hotel in St. Paul, Minnesota, October 18 to 21, 2017. As in the past, the Summit will have programs designed to help you better market your practice through social media and improve your work-life balance, and it will also feature both a roundtable and a reception on diversity. A unique feature of this conference will be our excursion to the nearby offices of Thomson Reuters, which will host a CLE presentation to help you build your practice, followed by our opening reception at their facility. I have been to their Eagan, Minnesota, facility before, so I know this opportunity should not be missed.

Our Joint Spring Meeting will take place in “the city that care forgot,” New Orleans, Louisiana, from April 26 to 28, 2018, at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel on Canal Street. If you have never been to a Division meeting and have ever had an interest in traveling to New Orleans, this is the meeting to attend. It will once again be a joint meeting with the Group Legal Services Association (GLSA) and the ABA Standing Committee on Group and Prepaid Legal Services, which will offer a variety of CLE programs to assist your practice. In addition to this quality programming, the city of New Orleans will provide you with a wide variety of first-class dining opportunities and the best in musical entertainment as our meeting coincides with the first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. I am sure there will be musicians performing to meet every musical taste.

Next year we will also be bringing back something that was a former staple of the Division at the ABA Annual Meeting: Solo Day. This is a day during the Annual Meeting when the Division hosts several CLE programs on a variety of substantive law topics faced by members in their day-to-day practice. I am very much looking forward to reviving Solo Day at the Annual Meeting in Chicago in August 2018.

At this time, I would like to congratulate my friend—and our outgoing Chair—David Lefton for the great year we have had under his leadership. David’s theme for this year was “Be All the Attorney You Can Be,” and he worked hard to present meetings and programs to assist every one of us to reach that goal. David added value to your membership by introducing services that far exceed the cost of your Division membership. It is my hope to continue these efforts and add even further to the value-added proposition of membership.

This issue of GPSolo magazine focuses on “Developing Your Greatest Resources.” Within these pages you will read a variety of articles to assist you in maximizing what is available to you as resources in your practices. One resource that I urge you not to overlook is the relationships you have with your families, friends, fellow attorneys, court staffs, judges, and clients. In many ways, these individuals are your greatest resources, which should be cultivated and improved as they provide you with many unexpected avenues of information, friendship, and, yes, opportunities to improve your businesses. The theme of my Bar Year is “Building All Relationships” (BAR), and from time to time in this forum I will discuss these relationships and how to improve them. I urge all of you not to ignore any of your important relationships, as they may, in fact, be your greatest resource.

If you have any ideas or thoughts on how the Division may work toward our goal of “Your Success, Our Mission,” do not hesitate to reach out to me. I will welcome any suggestions you have to make this Division a vibrant voice and asset to you, our members.

Stephen D. Williams is 2017–2018 Chair of the GPSolo Division. He is a sole practitioner in Flemington, New Jersey, focusing on family and criminal law.