GPSolo Nominating Committee Report
The American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division’s 2019–2020 Nominating Committee consisted of the following members: Chair Jennifer A. Rymell, Travis Cushman, Richard Evangelista, Thomas Urquhart, and Melody Wilkinson.
The Committee met in person in Carlsbad, California, on October 17 and 18 at the Division’s 2019 Solo & Small Firm Summit. The Committee was charged with nominating candidates for the offices of Division Secretary, Budget Officer, and five candidates to serve as Council Members-at-Large.
Special efforts were taken to ensure each candidate’s interview was conducted in a professional manner, identical in scope and objective. Each candidate was allotted 20 minutes for his or her interview. During the respective interviews, each candidate was afforded an opportunity to ask questions and to share any information the candidate wanted the Nominating Committee members to consider. In addition, Nominating Committee members were given the opportunity to make whatever inquiry they deemed appropriate of the candidates. At the conclusion of the interviews, the Nominating Committee considered all the applicants. After extensive deliberations, the members of the Nominating Committee voted on each position and, in accordance with Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division Bylaws, submitted the following slate of nominated candidates for Division Secretary, Budget Officer, and Division Council Members-at-Large for the Bar Year beginning at the 2020 ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.
Hon. Henry Hamilton III. Judge Hamilton, of Des Moines, Iowa, is an administrative law judge for the U.S. Social Security Administration. He received his juris doctor from Drake University School of Law and has been a licensed attorney since 1992. Judge Hamilton held previous judicial offices as a magistrate in Polk County, Iowa, and as an administrative judge for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Judge Hamilton has been involved in bar and professional associations at the state, local, and national levels. He has served as the president of the Iowa National Bar Association, as a member of the board of governors for both the Iowa State Bar Association and the Polk County Bar Association, and a member of the Milwaukee Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors. Judge Hamilton has been active with the ABA for more than 20 years. He started out in the ABA Young Lawyers Division (YLD) and has served on the Councils for the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division and the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division. His involvement in the Division has included serving as chair of the Administrative Law Committee and as a member of the Nominations and Finance Committees. Judge Hamilton’s commitment to his profession is exemplified by his service on the Council of the National Conference of Administrative Law Judiciary and as the conference’s chair of the Sponsorships and Non-Dues Revenue Committee, as well as being active with the Iowa Association of Administrative Law Judges. He is a member of Blackstone and C. Edwin Moore American Inns of Court and the Wisconsin Association of African American Lawyers. Judge Hamilton has received the President’s Award from the National Bar Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Foot Soldier in the Sands National Award, Drake Law School’s American Jurisprudence Award, and the EEOC’s Chairwoman Award.
Alan O. Olson. Olson, of Des Moines, Iowa, is the managing partner and owner of the Olson Law Office, P.C. He received his juris doctor from Drake Law School and specializes in personal injury trial law. Olson has been extremely active in the ABA since 1993. He has served in numerous leadership positions with the GPSolo Division, ABA House of Delegates, and the YLD, where he served as 2002–2003 Chair. He has also received ABA presidential appointments to the Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education and the Standing Committee on Membership. Olson is a Lifetime Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and has been appointed by two ABA presidents to serve on their Presidential Appointments Committees. Olson has already been entrusted with managing the funds of the GPSolo Division as the current Budget Officer and served as Revenue Development Director, member of the Finance Committee, and chair of the Corporate Sponsors Committee for several years. Most notably, on the state level, his bar leadership positions have included serving on the Board of Governors for the Iowa State Bar Association and serving as chair of its Scope and Correlation and Continuing Legal Education Committees. He was the president of the Iowa State Bar Young Lawyers Division and is the current Iowa state delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. Olson has served on numerous committees and the Board of Governors for the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association, culminating in his serving as 2010–2011 president. Olson also has a passion for access to justice and has served as the president of the Board of Directors for Iowa Legal Aid since 2012.
Kimberly Coward. Coward, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a partner in the firm of Coward and Coward, P.A. She has a general practice but primarily represents clients in the areas of criminal, family, and government law. Coward is a graduate of the University of Florida, where she received her juris doctor, master of education, education specialist, and bachelor of science degrees. She also currently serves her country as an officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals. In additional to her professional obligations, Coward is involved in myriad bar associations and community organizations. She served three terms as a member of the Florida Bar’s Education Committee, as the former treasurer of the TJ Reddick Bar Association, as an editor of the ABA YLD Affiliate newsletter, and as a member of the GPSolo Division’s Long Range Planning Committee. Coward is also serving a five-year term on the Parks and Recreation Board of Lauderhill, Florida, and as an appointed member of the City of Lauderhill Advisory Board. She is the co-founder and secretary-treasurer of One Voice Children’s Law Center, a nonprofit that represents children with matters in the dependency delinquency and/or educational systems.
Melvin Shaw. Shaw, of Coralville, Iowa, is a solo practitioner specializing in estate planning, business law, and real estate. He received his bachelor of arts in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and his master of arts in journalism and juris doctor from the University of Iowa. Shaw has been extremely active in various bar associations in addition to his ABA involvement. He is currently serving a six-year term as a member of Iowa’s Commission on Judicial Qualifications. He was appointed to this commission by Mark Cady, a former justice of the Iowa Supreme Court. Shaw is also currently serving a six-year term as an elected member of the Iowa State Bar Association’s Board of Governors. He has served as secretary, treasurer, vice president, and president of the Johnson County Bar Association and on the Iowa Business Law Association Council. Shaw served as the president of the Housing Fellowship, a nonprofit organization for affordable housing, and has been honored by his law school with the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Christopher Siebenaler. Siebenaler, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a business development manager with the Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company. He received his bachelor of arts from the University of Minnesota and his juris doctor from Charlotte School of Law. His work entails watching the trends in the legal profession for rising risks so that his company can write those risks and provide education for their insureds. His emphasis at Minnesota Lawyers Mutual is on solo and small firm practitioners. He began his bar association involvement with the Minnesota State Bar Association New Lawyers Section. He served as the New Lawyers Section Community Service co-chair and liaison to the ABA House of Delegates, and he received the New Lawyers Section Award in recognition of his dedication to the betterment of the section and to leadership and community service. He currently serves as a co-chair of the Minnesota State Bar Association Life and Law Committee and is the Minnesota state membership chair for the ABA.
Mario Sullivan. Sullivan, of Chicago, Illinois, is a small firm practitioner focusing on real estate, landlord/tenant, creditor bankruptcy, employment, contracts, and estate planning. He graduated from Illinois State University and obtained his juris doctor from the John Marshall Law School. Sullivan has been extremely active in various bar associations in addition to his ABA involvement. He is a member of the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), the National LGBT Bar Association, and the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago. Most recently, he was honored with the 2018–2019 ISBA Diversity Leadership Award. Sullivan began his ABA involvement with the YLD and served as the Division’s diversity director, member of the Diversity and Resolutions teams, and national representative for the LGBT Bar to the YLD. His service culminated when he was elected and served as the 2013–2014 YLD chair. Sullivan has continued to demonstrate his commitment to the ABA by serving as a member of the ABA Nominating Committee, a liaison to the Judicial Division and the American Bar Endowment, and a member of the ABA Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline. He has contributed to the GPSolo Division by being selected as a 2016–2017 Diversity Fellow. He is the current GPSolo diversity director and chairs the Division’s Diversity Board. He also serves as a member of the GPSolo magazine Editorial Board.
H. Nicole Werkmeister. Werkmeister, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a solo practitioner focusing on civil defense representation of public or governmental entities and officials. She obtained her bachelor of arts from Colby College and her juris doctor from Boston College Law School. Werkmeister began her involvement with the ABA during her tenure as president of the State Bar of New Mexico Young Lawyers Division. She was New Mexico’s liaison to the ABA YLD. In New Mexico, she has served as the president of the New Mexico Defense Lawyers Association and was the first female president of the association. She also served on the Board of Bar Commissioners for the State Bar of New Mexico, has been a member of several New Mexico judicial selection commissions, a member of the New Mexico Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, and a member of the Albuquerque Mayoral Commission on the Status of Women. Werkmeister has received several awards, including Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year (one from the State Bar of New Mexico and one from the New Mexico Center for Civic Values), an Outstanding Service Award from the New Mexico Board of Bar Commissioners, a Fellow Award from the Center for Civic Values, as well as community service awards from the Albuquerque BioPark, the Albuquerque Rape Crisis Center, and the New Mexico High School Mock Trial Program.
ABA Presidential Appointments Call for Nominations
We are honored to recommend to ABA President-Elect Patricia Lee Refo extraordinary leaders from within our Division to fulfill one of her Presidential appointments. We encourage you to seek a Presidential appointment this year. Please visit ambar.org/appointments for detailed instructions and the online application, which is available through February 21, 2020.
To facilitate our efforts to support your nomination, please apply first and then provide a digital copy of your nomination data to the Division at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than February 7, 2020.
When completing the personal statement in the application, please specify your qualifications, commitment to the goals of the committee, and prior experience, as well as ABA or relevant state and local bar association experience. If your statement is cursory or too long, members of the Presidential Appointments Committee will pass over the application. Each member of the Appointments Committee is assigned to review several committees and will be focused on making recommendations as to those committees, so don’t expect that the person responsible for the committees you select will know you. Geography is a factor, so you have a better chance of getting on committees where there is no similar representation. Although some of us may apply for the same positions, do not let that possibility dissuade you from applying; we can sort it out after you submit.
To maximize your potential of receiving the appointment, here are some techniques that seem to work:
- Electronically nominate yourself for the position.
- Ask a Section, Division, or other group to electronically nominate you.
- Contact the person on the Appointments Committee responsible to make recommendations to the president-elect and ask for support.
- Contact other members of the Appointments Committee that you know and ask for support.
- Contact the current committee chair for the committee in which you have an interest and introduce yourself and ask for support.
- Contact the staff of the committee and ask for support.
- Contact your friends in leadership and ask that they nominate you either electronically or by sending a letter to the president-elect, the committee, or the committee staff.
- Ask the president-elect to appoint you.
The online nominations application system is integrated with the ABA’s association management system. Therefore, it is critical that your ABA member profile is as complete as possible. Otherwise, the Appointments Committee will not have the necessary information about you for their vetting process.
Requests for GPSolo support need to be sent to the Division Office by February 7, 2020.
You must apply to the President’s Office no later than February 21, 2020, to be considered.