Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : October 2006

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  SECTION SPOTLIGHT  

Solo But Not Alone

MSBA Section of
Solo & Small Firm Practice

No. of Members
  1,200
(approx.)

Founded
  June 1985

Officers
Chair:
 
Jonathan Roy Bromberg
Chair-Elect:
 
Steven G. Tyler
Secretary:
  Hon. Lenore R. Gelfman

Newsletter
 
The Law Clerk

MICPEL Programs
 
"Hanging Out a Shingle" 

"Solo but not alone" is a frequently-used phrase throughout MSBA's Solo & Small Firm Practice Section. The phrase evokes independence, yet with invariable support; it's inclusive with individual distinction; it ensures a level playing field for moderate sole practitioners while they strive for the next level.

In an effort to maintain those qualities, the Section has placed the ever-evolving nature of technology as the polestar of its 8th Annual Conference, to be held November 11 at the BWI Marriott Conference Center. Its goal is to bring everyone up to speed on the latest software, trends and systems.

"It's a lot of tech-stuff this year," remarks Section Chair Jonathan Bromberg. Various programs will focus on a variety of topics, including the concept of a paperless law office, how changes in technology affect the practice of law and hidden dangers within technology. "[The programs] discuss what interests us as practitioners and [tries] to make practices better."

The technological focal point of the conference lies not only in the substance but also in the presentation. For those solo and small practitioners who are able to attend the conference, a CD-ROM of the course's materials will be distributed; and for the absentees, the program recordings will be available via podcast on the Monday following the conference. While it is the most evident example of burgeoning technology in the work place, it also stands as the biggest obstacle and most costly aspect of the conference.

Suggested by Steve Tyler, a member of the Solo Conference Committee, the podcast is compiled after a company digitally records all of the conference's sessions and then uploads the audio tapes to a rented server. From there, the material can be electronically downloaded to personal computers, mp3 players and iPods.

The accessibility of conference materials to absentees was necessary due to the fact that tickets for the seminar have sold out virtually every year. Bromberg sees the popularity as both a positive and a negative.

"It's good to have that much interest," he admits, "but bad to have to turn people away."

Despite the added element of technology at this year's conference, attendants will still find the common features in the sessions, including different strategies for running a practice and ways to enhance your ethical practice.

"We have a very well-received conference," notes Bromberg, adding that both the conference and the Section's Solo Day Seminar are the "two most important educational programs we do."

To bolster unity in its activities, the Section provides a Email List on its website which, according to Bromberg, is heavily used, boasting 60-70 new postings on any given day, with an additional 40 people reading each post.

"It gives us plenty of feedback," says Bromberg. The Email List aids members in the day-to-day realm and allows them to interconnect to other solo practitioners through the Internet. "[The Email List is] getting more and more robust each passing day."

Pat Yevics, MSBA liaison to the Solo and Small Firm Practice Section, assists the Section in every facet of its proceedings from attending meetings to working on its sundry projects and programs.

"The Email List has also helped [gather] information about legal issues," notes Yevics. "Since they are [solo practitioners], they do not have the staff to spend a lot of time gathering information about management or technology, so that is where we help."

Through technology, solo and small firm practitioners are only a mouse-click away from their peers, and most certainly never alone.

"To me, collegiality is a big benefit [of the Section]," adds Bromberg. "[Solo practitioners] become a part of a very large firm. This Section is that firm."

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: October 2006