Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : June 2010

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In one sense, what better name could there be than “Solo and Small Firm Practice Section” for the MSBA’s general practice Section? After all, most general practitioners probably do practice as solos or in small firms, and most solos and small firm practitioners are likely in general practice.

However, even a generally accurate name can sometimes be unfairly limiting. A case in point — the Solo and Small Firm Practice Section. If you are not a solo or small firm practitioner, or if you are not in general practice, you might be misled by the name into thinking that the Section has nothing to offer you.

THE MSBA SOLO
and Small Firm Practice Section is at heart all about being a lawyer, and that applies no matter what your practice setting or area of concentration."

To the contrary: the Section is at heart all about being a lawyer, and that applies no matter what your practice setting or area of concentration. In my humble opinion, the resources offered by the Solo and Small Firm Section can help every lawyer become the “total package” committed lawyer.

What are those resources that can aid any lawyer who joins the Section? Here are a few:

  • Electronic discussion group. Membership in the Section gives you automatic access to the Solo electronic discussion group, an online forum connecting you to other Section members via e-mail. Imagine practicing in a firm with several hundred partners, with wide-ranging expertise in virtually all aspects of the law, and centuries of collective experience. Imagine being able to ask all those partners any question, no matter how potentially naïve, and getting quick responses to your queries. That’s pretty much the experience of participating on the Solo electronic discussion group. Whether you are looking for a quick orientation to a novel point of law or practice, or a referral for a matter outside your expertise or geographical area, the electronic discussion group is a 24/7 source of support for you and your client.
  • Technology. One of the tasks common to all areas of practice is the impact of technology on the practice of law. Each practitioner must periodically reevaluate the potential costs and benefits of new technology on their practice. Few want to be on the “bleeding edge”, but moving closer to the cutting edge can have real benefits, if done properly. The Solo Section carries a portfolio in the area of legal technology, and can be invaluable in helping each practitioner to stay current while avoiding tech missteps. Whether through conversation on the electronic discussion group, attendance at CLE programs with a tech emphasis or consulting with Pat Yevics at the MSBA Law Office Management Assistance (LOMA) office, Solo Section members can find the answers to their tech questions. Pat keeps her finger on the pulse of legal tech, for example recently attending the ABA’s legal tech meeting in Chicago.
  • IGNORE THE
    name: MSBA's Solo and Small Firm Practice Section is for all attorneys."
  • Practice management. Speaking of Pat, she also has in-depth files at LOMA that can help resolve those nagging law practice management questions that plague us all, and is responsible for organizing and supporting seminars throughout the year on a wide range of law practice topics. To name just a few: Solo Day at the Annual Meeting in June; the Solo Conference in the fall; and Hanging Out a Shingle, at various times each year. Learning how to organize your practice for maximum efficiency and profit, and to avoid malpractice exposure, are tasks that affect us all, and membership in the Solo Section offers opportunities to sharpen your skills.
  • Transition assistance. Every practitioner begins his or her practice at some point, and some day will end it. Mid-course, many attorneys will have occasion to change their practice, joining other attorneys or severing old ties. The Solo Section stands ready to help, through advice and guidance on the electronic discussion group and through training sessions, including audio and video podcasts of past sessions on-line.
  • Disaster Planning and Recovery. Whether delivered by something as dramatic as a hurricane or 100-year flood, or as relatively mundane as a fire or burglary, disaster lurks over every practice. Planning for such events, or failing that, recovering from such disasters, is something the Solo Section has addressed. As above, the Solo Section has archived past sessions on these topics, and stands ready to field your questions.

The above is just a sampler of the resources available to members of the Solo Section. The takeaway? Ignore the name: MSBA’s Solo and Small Firm Practice Section is for all attorneys. What else can you get for $15 per year that can do so much for your practice?

Steven G. Tyler, Esq., is a past chair of the MSBA Solo and Small Firm Practice Section and currently serves on the Section Council.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: June 2010

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