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44th Street Notes

Small Law Firm Center

May 2000

The Association has many constituencies; they include lawyers in private practice, corporate counsel, government lawyers, lawyers in public interest and other not-for-profit organizations, retired lawyers, academics and the judiciary. The sphere of private practice ranges from lawyers in large, multi-office law firms to solo and small firm practitioners. Roughly 6,000 of the Association's 21,000 members fall into the latter category. While solo and small firm practitioners enjoy many of the membership benefits, such as insurance, made available by the Association, it has become increasingly apparent that these benefits do not fully meet all of the particular requirements of this group. We will henceforth address those needs through the Association's newly established Small Law Firm Center. After eliciting through a survey that solo and small firm practitioners were interested in the creation of a cluster of resources that would focus on their distinctive needs, the Committee on Small Law Firm Management, then chaired by Joseph Handlin, recommended that the Association create a Small Law Firm Center. An Executive Committee subcommittee, chaired by Roger Maldonado, worked with the Committee on Small Law Firm Management, now chaired by Richard Kestenbaum, to identify the services that were in greatest demand among solo and small-firm practitioners, to devise the most effective means of providing those services, and to prepare a budget for doing so. The end product of this intensive, two-year effort is the Small Law Firm Center, to be situated on the third floor adjacent to the Tech Center and the Library. The depth of the Association's commitment to this endeavor is reflected in the hiring of a full-time Director of the Center, Carol Seelig, who brings to this new position extensive experience in small firm practice and management. The Center's program will evolve to provide whatever services our solo and small firm members indicate are important to them. If you have suggestions as to priorities for the Center, please e-mail Carol Seelig at We are currently considering offering the following products and services:

íP information on technology hardware and software, as well as the opportunity to experiment with new applications and participate in group buying programs that will permit members to take advantage of volume purchase discounts;

íP a separate reference library of materials relating to law practice management;

íP a dedicated web page and a listserve to facilitate dissemination of information and communication both with the Center staff and among members of the Center;

íP assistance to lawyers in filling legal and non-legal employment positions;

íP programs geared to the solo and small firm practitioner, including programs qualifying for CLE credit;

íP networking opportunities that will, among other things, permit lawyers with different practice specialties to assist each other in solving problems and perhaps to join forces in serving a client's multiple needs; and

íP a general clearinghouse for information on products, services, law practice and management that are particularly relevant to meeting the needs of solo and small firm practitioners.

Access to the Center will be limited to members of the Association and will be available upon payment of a modest fee. Existing services will be refined, and new services added, as experience is accumulated. We hope the Small Law Firm Center will attract new members to the Association, as well as better serve current members. I personally hope that the establishment of the Center will lay to rest the misguided notion that the Association is interested in serving only, or even primarily, members in large law firms. The Association aims to serve all branches of the legal profession and continuously strives to do so more effectively.

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