THE CHAIR’S CORNER
Bar None: Inclusivity of People and Ideas
Unless we take action, the words of the title above are just that, words. They have long been the stated goals of the ABA and American society. Progress has been slowly made on developing awareness of the vital need for inclusivity of people and ideas. These concepts go hand in hand with the rule of law. They are part of every person’s responsibility to promote a prosperous, stable, and safe community. We all know this on some level.
Sadly and too often, we feel overwhelmed by a constant pounding of negative national and international events. The globe seems to rock with the violence of religious, ethnic, or partisan hatred. Even in the United States such violence exists. The democratic process in the United States degrades itself into negative campaigns where opposing candidates portray each other as unacceptably different from a “real American.”
This column is not a simplistic plea for all people to get along better. It is a request for each reader to take a moment to look at the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division of the ABA as an instrument to actively promote inclusivity of people and ideas, Bar None. This will be the theme of the Division’s 2008-2009 Bar Year.
The whole concept of GP|Solo converting from a Section to a Division a few years ago was not a cosmetic name change. Indeed, the purpose was to take action on behalf of solos and small firm lawyers throughout the ABA and the country. The Division aspires to have their opinions gathered and heard and their professional needs collaboratively addressed throughout the ABA without strife or divisiveness. As the primary portal for solos into the ABA, the Division has begun to accomplish this mission. Both solos and small firm lawyers and the ABA will be the better for this ongoing collaboration.
GP|Solo already provides a framework of resources that cross internal ABA boundaries. GP|Solo hosts SoloSez, prepares the Best of ABA Sections issues of this magazine, and with the Law Trends & News eNewsletter seeks out the practice expertise of the entire ABA that most directly impacts solos. In the 2008-2009 Bar Year, important ABA-wide projects will involve GP|Solo. The Division will refine and expand its Ambassador Program to other Sections seeking joint projects that “Do Something” more for solos. GP|Solo pledges its active involvement in the development and implementation of a Solo Center on the revitalized ABA website. This will help “Simplify” access for solos into the ABA universe. “Do Something” and “Simplify” are important themes of past GP|Solo Division Chairs that will be embodied and carried over into the 2008-2009 Bar Year.
As this happens, GP|Solo must continue to be more than an advocate of inclusivity of people and ideas. GP|Solo will serve as an active example walking the walk, not just talking the talk. For example, Diversity and Young Lawyer Fellows will not simply be appointed to their positions without guidance or a game plan for the accomplishments expected of them. They will be imbued with the sense of an action plan that will propel them for years of active service in the Division and the ABA. As the ABA adopts the philosophy of Bar None, it will derive strength from the inclusion of individuals from different cultures, of different ethnic heritages, and with different ideas. Diversity in action will be the solid foundation of the GP|Solo Division and its legacy for ABA.
All of the above words are regally cloaked with noble intentions. Now they need your spirit and bodies to activate them. Look around the GP|Solo Division. Examine its committees. Read its publications. Become aware of what it does now and how much more it can do with your direct help. Then bring the strength of your individuality to the group. Roll up your sleeves. Help us by enlisting your unique strengths to enhance the role of solos and small firms across the whole of the ABA, Bar None.
Robert A. Zupkus, the guest author of this issue’s column, is Chair-Elect of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.