Solos & Small Firms

Launched: ABA Offers Solos More Web-Based Resources

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Solo and small-firm members of the American Bar Association will get more bang for their membership dollars as the ABA expands a new site offering resources targeted specifically to their needs.

The Solo and Small Firm Resource Center, launched in January, is the result of the ABA’s renewed focus on expanding content for independent lawyers, who have struggled to keep their practices viable in the difficult economy. As of 2005, some 62 percent of attorneys in private practice worked solo or in small firms, according to ABA data.

“The concept is to make this a one-stop shop,” says Chicago solo Laurel Bellows, the ABA’s president-elect. “This launch is just the beginning, I hope, of the many types of services that we can provide.”

The site offers news, continuing legal education, prerecorded events, technology and career information, books, practice management tools, and links to discounts on services.

Bellows hopes the site will become the go-to spot for support on everything from shopping for insurance to setting up a lease agreement for a practice. She says it has the potential to become a robust information exchange where solos will form alliances with other practitioners and share referrals.

“It’s not often easy to find firms with whom you can establish a confidence, a trusted adviser,” she says.

Lee Kolczun, a Sheffield Village, Ohio, solo and chair of the ABA Presidential Task Force on Solo and Small Firm Membership Development, says the seven-member group is working to secure funding for the site and form partnerships with vendors—goals that will be completed by June.

“This really is one of the first major things the ABA has done where they’re reaching out to solos to try to help [them] practice more efficiently and effectively,” he says. “The idea is to give them more value than it costs to be a member of the ABA.”

The ABA declined to disclose membership figures. Last year the association began a campaign to boost representation among solos and small firms by offering a membership discount of up to 50 percent, a move that Bellows says helped boost their ranks.

“We got a tremendous increase last year,” she says. “This is a huge value and I’m very excited about it. I expect significant growth as a result.”

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