This week, I posted some more photos from a great past event—the State Bar of Arizona Solo and Small-Firm Conference. And then I read a story in the New York Times that got me thinking about law school and law practice, which reminded me of the conference all over again.
The conference was last November 18 and 19, and it brought together presenters who could speak best to issues that affected those lawyers.
It kicked off with co-chair Paul Ulrich describing the conference goals:
- “To help us all in our practice in these changing times.”
- “To achieve a more focused, profitable practice.”
Arizona Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch also spoke at the conference opening. She talked eloquently about the dire economy the nation faces, in the face of which many new lawyers decide to open up their own shop.
“I encourage all of you with experience to take these new folks under your wing. Times are tough, and they’ll need your help.”
This weekend’s New York Times told a sad tale of the legal marketplace. Titled “Is Law School a Losing Game?” the story explained how “Since 2008, some 15,000 attorney and legal-staff jobs at large firms have vanished, according to a Northwestern Law study. Associates have been laid off, partners nudged out the door and recruitment programs have been scaled back or eliminated.”
In the face of these facts, any conference dedicated to solo lawyers is especially well timed.
Based on other data, Chief Justice Berch noted that most people who require a lawyer’s services will likely hire a solo lawyer or small firm. And that comes with a responsibility.
“Arizona citizens must depend on you for the bulk of legal services. Their image of the justice system is formed by their interactions with you.”
Presenters at the two-day conference included lawyer Lynda Shely, law firm marketer Jeff Lantz, the State Bar’s Susan Traylor, and Catherine Sanders-Reach of the American Bar Association. They headed up panels on topics as diverse as ethical marketing tips, fee agreements. Going paperless, and even a program titled 61 Tips in 60 Minutes. And Tucson lawyer Kathleen McCarthy gave a variety of ergonomic and exercise tips to improve your day (and your posture).
Here’s hoping that this becomes an annual event.
More photos are here.