Division Announcements

Vol. 4, No. 1


CONGRATULATIONS GPSolo on Winning the SOC Meritorious Service Award!

The SOC Meritorious Service Award, established in 1994, recognizes the important contributions ABA sections, divisions, and forum committees make to the life and work of the ABA. The award is given to the section, division, or forum committee that has sponsored a program, project, or other initiative in the previous year that is of extraordinary benefit to the profession, the public, and/or the association. The award is presented at the Annual Meeting.

GPSolo won the 2014 SOC Meritorious Service Award for its pro bono project Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a private nonprofit that helps provide competent and compassionate legal counsel to unaccompanied minors in the US immigration system.

Please take the time to become trained to assist these children in need of help. More information may be found below in “Unaccompanied Children Crisis: Volunteers Needed.”


From left to right: Kathleen Hopkins, Benes Aldana, Jennifer Rymell, Amy Lin Meyerson, and Laura Farber. (Photo taken by Kimberly Kocian.)


Unaccompanied Children Crisis: Volunteers Needed

Each day, approximately 400 unaccompanied children, including infants, cross into the United States from Central America as they flee violence and other inhuman and frightening conditions. US government officials estimate that as many as 70,000 children will cross the US border this year.

GPSolo seeks your assistance with this situation. Three years ago, as one of its pro bono and public service projects, GPSolo partnered with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a private nonprofit that helps provide competent and compassionate legal counsel to unaccompanied minors in the US immigration system. This partnership and more information from KIND are described in the January 2012 article for GPSolo Magazine.


Online Training

On the GPSolo website there is a free (open access) two-hour webinar and six 30-minute podcasts, along with written training materials. In addition to the training videos showing how to represent an unaccompanied child, the GPSolo website has a short informational video about KIND and a direct link to volunteer with KIND to take on a case.


In-Person Training

Free in-person training sessions also are available in September and October:

Friday, September 12, 2014
11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. CST
Chicago Hyatt
Chicago, IL

SOC Meeting participants and Business Law Section (BLS) members are encouraged to attend this free KIND training session. To reserve your spot at this session, please email Leslie Archer at the ABA BLS office so she can ensure sufficient seating.

Saturday, October 25, 2014
8 a.m.–12:30 p.m. CST
Hilton Palacio del Rio, San Antonio, TX

As part of the 9th Annual GPSolo National Solo & Small Firm Conference, we will host an expanded KIND training and recruitment session. This free session is open to all lawyers and law students and is CLE accredited. This expanded program will include mock hearings, “Immigration 101: Basics of Immigration Law,” and also a session on representing children as clients. If you are interested in attending the San Antonio KIND training session, it is free, but please email Dee Lee at the ABA GPSolo office so we can ensure sufficient seating.

It is anticipated that additional sessions will be conducted in 2015 at GPSolo and BLS meetings, and we are hopeful other ABA entities will join the ABA-KIND partnership and host training sessions at their stand-alone meetings.

Please take the time to become trained to assist these children in need of help.

For more information about KIND and any of the other pro bono and public service activities, contact GPSolo Pro Bono and Public Service Committee Co-Chairs Kathleen Hopkins and Jamie Hawk.

To locate an organization with pro bono opportunities near you, visit the National Pro Bono Opportunities Guide.


2014–2015 ABA Magna Carta Video Competition

We proudly announce the launch of the 2014–2015 ABA Magna Carta Video Competition (An ABA Presidential initiative) celebrating the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta in June of 1215: “Magna Carta: What’s So Great about the ‘Great Charter’?”

The 2014–2015 ABA Magna Carta Video Competition is jointly sponsored by ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division and the Center for Teaching the Rule of Law; and is cosponsored by the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division, Law Student Division, and Division for Public Education. Competition prizes are made possible through the generous donations or support of the competition supporters listed.

The ABA Magna Carta Video Competition invites student teams to create a video of not more than 15 minutes celebrating the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta in June 1215. Considered the foundation of such Anglo-American concepts as the rule of law, due process, trial by peers, and constitutionalism, Magna Carta’s origins and legacy have influenced the growth of representative constitutional democracy not only in England and America, but also the world over. Participants should use their videos to answer the title question: “Magna Carta: What’s So Great about the ‘Great Charter’?”

This competition is open to students in grades 9–12 or the equivalent, attending a public or private high school or home school within the United States. Students should form a team of two to six students, plus one adult: a teacher, coach, or team parent. Teams larger than six students will be disqualified. All team members, including adult, must be legal residents of the United States. Immediate family members of employees, staff, or officers of the ABA or its sponsoring entities or of the Center are not eligible to participate.

For more information visit the ABA GPSolo Magna Carta webpage. If you have any questions or comments in relation to the competition, please contact ABA GPSolo Program Specialist Dee Lee at 312-988-5659.


ABA Magna Carta Commemoration

The ABA is pleased to join the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth nations in honoring the 800th Anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta in 1215.

The fundamental concepts of liberty that had their beginnings in Magna Carta were transplanted to the American colonies, where they were accepted, refined, and embedded in the instruments of government as well as the thinking of the American people. Magna Carta provided the basis for the idea of a higher law, one that could not be altered either by executive mandate or legislative acts. This concept, embraced by the leaders of the American Revolution, is embedded in the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution. Throughout American history, the rights associated with Magna Carta have been regarded as among the most important guarantees of freedom and fairness.

In anticipation of this milestone event, the ABA created an ABA Magna Carta Anniversary Committee, chaired by Stephen N. Zack, Past President of the ABA.

Under Mr. Zack’s leadership, the ABA Magna Carta Anniversary Committee is developing plans for events within the United States and the United Kingdom, leading up to a delegation of 600–800 U.S. lawyers participating in commemorative meetings and events in London and Runnymede from June 11–14, 2015. Read more.


Brown Bag Sessions


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

12:00p.m.–1:00 p.m. Central

GPSolo’s Virtual Brown Bag Sessions are short, informal educational events on timely topics organized by committees and held entirely by teleconference as a Division member benefit at no additional cost. The sessions are held monthly, normally last one hour, and are held during lunch hours. Due to the informal nature of the programs, and the fact that accompanying written materials may not always be prepared and distributed, the Division does not offer continuing legal education credits for these programs.

Some past Brown Bag Session topics included:

  • Is Your Retirement Plan Right for Your Small Business?
  • The Lawyer’s Guide to Financial Planning
  • Expanding Your Practice With Limited Scope Representation
  • Navigating the Legal Technology Minefield: What's New for 2014
  • How to Start and Build a Successful Law Practice
  • Taking the Mystery and (Some) Misery Out of Starting and Developing a New Solo Practice
  • The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): What Every Lawyer Needs to Know
  • Cybersecurity and the Solo and Small Firm Lawyer

You can access these sessions and more on the Division’s website.


Call for Difference Makers Awards Nominations

Due Date Extended to August 29, 2014

GPSolo announces a call for nominations for its annual Difference Makers Awards Program to recognize extraordinary lawyers who “make a difference” by breaking down barriers for women, people of color, and people with disabilities, regardless of sexual orientation.

These awards have been expanded to honor local attorneys whose dedication has made a difference to the profession or the community where the Division’s fall meeting is held. However, the winners are not limited to only those in the local community. Rather than recognizing only solo and small firm lawyers or those working in the solo and small firm sections of local and state bars, these awards are intended for any size firm lawyers, educators, judges, etc., who fulfill one of the following award categories.

Winners will be honored at the GPSolo 2014 Fall Meeting and National Solo & Small Firm Conference Awards Luncheon on Friday, October 24, 2014 at the Hilton Palacio del Rio Hotel in San Antonio, TX.

  • Difference Makers Award: This award honors a deserving individual who is an attorney or no-attorney: (a) who has made a difference in the local community, and (b) who lives in the local geographic area where the Division is meeting and where the Difference Makers Awards program is being held.
  • Making a Difference by Breaking Barriers: This award honors an attorney living or deceased who broke barriers for gender, color, disabilities, or sexual orientation.
  • Making a Difference through Community Service: This award honors an attorney living or deceased who made a significant lifetime contribution to the local community through community service. (Not necessarily through bar work or pro bono work per se).
  • Making a Difference through Pro Bono Work: This award honors an attorney, law firm, corporate legal department, government attorney office, or institution in the legal profession that has made an outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged. (Recognizes an outstanding local attorney or group that does pro bono work).
  • Making a Difference through Service to the Profession: This award honors an attorney living or deceased who made a significant contribution to the legal profession through service to the profession. (i.e., frequent activities in bar associations, committees, and services).

Please read the Awards Summary Information before completing the application. To submit an application or for more information visit our Awards homepage.


Call for Nominations for Division Secretary and Council Members-at-Large, 2015–2016

Chair Amy Lin Meyerson has appointed Scott LaBarre to serve as chair of the Division’s Nominating Committee for the FY2015 bar year. The committee members are Rolf Schuetz, Jr. Alfreda Coward, Richard DeMichele, Jr., and Alan Olson.

The Nominating Committee will meet during the 9th Annual GPSolo National Solo & Small Firm Conference from October 23–25 at the Hilton Palacio del Rio Hotel in San Antonio, TX, to nominate individuals for the positions of Division Secretary and Members-At-Large of the 2015–2016 Council. In accordance with the Bylaws section 7.3.1, the Committee will nominate five Council Members-At-Large to serve four-year terms. Minority applicants are encouraged. The duties, terms of office, and eligibility requirements for each of the positions to be filled are outlined in the Division bylaws.

Please return your completed questionnaire to the Division Office via email at gpsolo@americanbar.org or via fax at 312-988-5711 or mail directly to ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division, 321 N. Clark Street, 18th Floor, Chicago, IL 60654. Questionnaires must be received or postmarked by October 10, 2014.

During the Fall Meeting, each interested individual will have an opportunity to appear in person before the Nominating Committee to discuss his or her qualifications and aspirations. Please note, however, that a personal appearance is not necessary for an individual to be considered by the committee. Further, an appearance before the committee will not entitle one to reimbursement for attendance at the meeting.

Any lawyer members who are licensed to practice in any of the states, territories, or possessions of the United States, who is a member of the Association and of the Division, are eligible to nominate themselves for either the Division secretary, council member-at-large or the council vacancy position. Associate lawyers, student associates, and law students are not eligible and are excluded from submitting a nomination.


Call for 2014 Fall Council Agenda Items

Council members and committee leaders: prepare to submit your council agenda items and reports for the Fall Council Meeting to your Division Director and to the GPSolo Division Office at gpsolo@americanbar.org by October 3, 2014. The Council will meet on October 25, 2014, from 12:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. in the Stetson Room, Hilton Palacio del Rio Hotel, in San Antonio, TX.



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