Chair's Corner

May You Live in Interesting Times

David H. Lefton

What a year it has been since the 2017–2018 Bar Year started last August. The ancient Chinese curse that states “may you live in interesting times” must have evolved during a time period like we are living in today. Since the beginning of the Bar Year it seems every day brings with it shocking new stories. Where should I begin? Maybe the immigration ban; or the people we’ve lost, such as Mary Tyler Moore and Gene Wilder; or President Donald Trump’s tweets; or the Cubs winning the World Series, snapping a 108-year drought; or the election and protest rallies since the election; or the Obamacare debate; or some of the tumult in the world around us, such as North Korea’s weapons tests, the United Kingdom’s vote on Brexit, and the terror attack in France. This has also been an interesting time—but we hope in an entirely positive way—within the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division as we are implementing and working on a number of new things for our members.

What Has the Branding Task Force Been Up To?

The Branding Task Force, formed at the beginning of the 2016–2017 Bar Year, has accomplished a great deal in a short time frame.

  • Our brand. Over the past few years we have witnessed significant changes in the way legal services are delivered, and we felt it was time to update our brand to keep up with changes in our industry. We have refreshed our logo to reflect who we are today and to symbolize our dynamic future. At the 2016 Fall Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, our Division Council approved our new Division tagline “Your Success, Our Mission.” Our new tagline reflects our mission to provide member benefits that will enhance the success of your law practice. We are proud of GPSolo’s rich history and ongoing mission, and under our new brand we will continue to provide the utmost in value to every member.
  • GPSolo/AMA Physician Employment Contract Review Program. At the Fall Meeting the Division Council approved exploration of a physician contract review program for American Medical Association (AMA) members. Shortly after the Fall Meeting, the AMA’s chief operating officer and one of its vice presidents flew to Cincinnati to meet with me. We hammered out an arrangement that was presented to the Board of Governors at its November 2016 meeting and approved. As I write this article, we are in the process of working out the logistics and contract details. Once the program is established, members who meet the experience qualifications for the program will be able to enroll at no additional charge beyond membership dues.
  • Clara Labs. We are also planning a six-month trial with a virtual assistant product produced by Clara Labs. For solos and small firm attorneys, a virtual assistant can be a huge time saver in scheduling meetings and the like. Clara is an artificial intelligence/human hybrid system that helps lawyers coordinate scheduling so they can spend more time on their practice instead of the administrative functions. Lawyers will “cc” Clara on their e-mails related to scheduling meetings, and the system will process the e-mail, find a time that works for both parties, and then create a calendar event. Imagine how much time you will save with Clara setting all your client meetings, settlement conferences, and other meetings. Clara will also pull together the necessary information in order to make sure the meetings go smoothly, such as participant contact information, event location, etc. Additionally, GPSolo members will receive a discount of 10 percent off the service for the first three months. Further details should be released in the near future. Give it a try and let us know what you think.
  • Other member benefits coming soon. The task force is not done and is evaluating several other products to enhance your law practice. Keep an eye out for new things to come.

What Other New Benefits Are Available for Division Members?

In addition to the task force developments, we have a number of other new things taking place:

  • Law and Life column. This new column in GPSolo magazine features tips for balancing the practice of law and life.
  • Package Letter program for young lawyers. This collection of form letters is designed to help young lawyers build a library of forms for their personal use. Find them online.
  • Diversity Reception. Our inaugural Diversity Reception was held at the 2016 Fall Meeting to promote diversity within the Division. Keep an eye out for details of the next diversity event at the 2017 Fall Meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Buddy Program. This program is designed to pair new members upon request with an active member to review and answer questions about the Division and the benefits it offers. At the same time, participants will develop a beneficial one-on-one relationship with a veteran GPSolo member or share their own expertise. For more information, e-mail gpsolo@americanbar.org.
  • Women’s Initiative Network (WIN). This new committee works on initiatives to advance the interests of women within the profession.

While your Division leaders have been hard at work creating new member benefits, the Division continues to provide the same benefits that have been available for years, such as the monthly Brown Bag, GPSolo magazine, the eReport, and book publications. We hope these member benefits and other benefits we have forthcoming are of value to you.

What Else Is Going on in the Division?

I would be remiss if I didn’t say one more good-bye to Dee Lee. Dee retired from the Division at the end of December 2016. She led and supported several of the Division’s key initiatives, projects, and operations since she began working for GPSolo in 2001, including, but not limited to, ABA Presidential Appointments for more than 100 Division members, Division Diversity Fellowships to more than 60 recipients, and Division Difference Maker Awards to more than 100 recipients, including First Lady Michelle Obama.

Dee distinguished herself as a supreme bar administrative professional, bar leader, bar advisor, bar counselor, bar mentor, and bar friend to many during more than 15 years in service to the ABA. Dee will be fondly remembered for her caring ways and love of the Division, and we wish her much happiness as she begins the next stage of her life.

Cloud Computing

The theme of this issue of GPSolo magazine is “Cloud Computing.” In this edition, read articles covering cloud storage, digital disaster recovery planning and cloud backup, virtual office technology, the ethics of practicing in the cloud, our latest primer on start-up tech for any budget, and more.

To all our members, on behalf of our Council, Executive Committee, and staff, we thank you for being a member of GPSolo. Renew your membership in the ABA and GPSolo today. Your Success, Our Mission!

David H. Lefton is Chair of the GPSolo Division. He is an equity partner with Barron Peck Bennie & Schlemmer in Cincinnati, Ohio.