August 20, 2020 The Chairs' Corner

It Really Has Been One Year

Richard A. DeMichele Jr.

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What a year it has been.

What a year it has been.

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It is customary and a part of the GPSolo tradition that the outgoing Chair writes a farewell address as the last Chairs’ Corner column. To honor this tradition, I feel compelled to share with you some of my “final” thoughts.

What a year it has been. We started the year focusing our leadership on the larger ABA’s new membership model. We were determined to increase membership in our Division and demonstrate our value to potential new members. I am happy to say we have met this challenge. Our membership is up, and we have momentum heading into the next bar year.

We also dealt with COVID-19 and its impact on lawyers across the nation. We learned to conduct our business through virtual Council and Executive Committee meetings. It is hard for me to remember an era without Zoom. While no one is sure how the new normal will look in the next year, I know that we have great leadership and talented staff, and they will maximize our opportunities as lawyers going forward.

The year would not have been the success that it was without the tireless efforts of our staff. Kim Kocian has done a wonderful job as our Division Director, making sure our train always ran on time. Her attention to detail is truly amazing! Kim has also done a great job of assembling the GPSolo staff. I cannot express my thanks enough for Steve Wildi, Sherri Napue, Molly Hesse, Lorraine Murray, Brandon Wilhelm, and Rob Salkin. Steve, thank you for understanding the life of a busy small firm attorney and always being there to follow up to make sure none of the details fell through the cracks. Sherri, thank you for the countless hours planning our meetings and making sure our members had a great experience. I know how hard you worked for our Spring Meeting, which never came to be. Thank you, Molly, for a great job in messaging to our members. I will never forget shooting the Fall Meeting promotional video in the hallway of a Chicago hotel. Thank you, Lorraine and Brandon, for shepherding the Division’s books from planning through production and sales. Lastly, thanks to Rob, who made sure my articles were well edited and in on time.

I also want to thank my family, who supported my ride to becoming a GPSolo Chair. Without the continual support from my wife, Sharon, and our two girls, Amanda and Libby, I would not have been able to be Chair of the Division. Their understanding of the time commitment and their ability to constantly alter their schedules made things so much easier for me. I would be remiss if I did not thank my second family, my co-workers. Greg, going to work every day with my brother is a blessing, especially when you can cover for me when I’m traveling for the ABA. A special thank-you to my assistant, Amy, who kept my schedule straight and juggled numerous appointments and conference calls. Matt, Lindsay, and Laura, this past year you picked up the slack without fully knowing why I needed some help.

One of the things that I am continually asked, particularly as my term draws to a close, is, “Does being Chair really take a lot of time?” I always answer that question with a smile and say, “Yes, it does. It is certainly worth the time.” I have really enjoyed being your Chair for the last 12 months.

Many are wondering how I will spend all my newfound time as Past Chair of our Division. But for the pandemic, I would have planned to be a better Phillies fan, attending more games. I am thinking a better option may be beach activities, such as cornhole, kayaking, and boogie boarding. With any luck, I will have my family doing these activities with me. My girls are quite athletic, so I will need to work on my skills if I want to be competitive. As I look forward to doing all those things, I now know why nobody has ever sought a second term as GPSolo Chair. As a side note, the Division has never felt the need for term limits.

Lastly, I am very excited for Alfreda Coward’s year as our Chair. She has been working very hard planning and organizing for the past year or two. Her “installation” at the ABA 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting in July is only the beginning of what I know will be a fantastic bar year going forward. I can think of no better way to end my farewell message than to thank Alfreda Coward, the Officers, and Council, who worked so hard to make this past year a success. Please keep up the good work. I know you will.

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Richard A. DeMichele Jr. is the 2019–2020 Chair of the GPSolo Division. He is a shareholder with DeMichele & DeMichele P.C., a general practice firm in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, with an emphasis on family law, criminal law, and personal injury law.