Contact: Colleen Roche
Linden Alschuler & Kaplan, PR
croche@lakpr.com
212-329-1413 

June 22, 2009

NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION APPROVES COMPREHENSIVE PLAN TO HELP SOLO AND SMALL FIRM PRACTITIONERS

The New York State Bar Association released a new report outlining a comprehensive plan to help solo and small firm practitioners - the largest and fastest growing segment of its membership. The report, authored by the Special Committee on Solo and Small Firm Practice, was adopted by the House of Delegates, the decision- and policy-making body of the Association, at its June 20 meeting in Cooperstown.

The Special Committee, chaired by Past President Robert L. Ostertag (Ostertag O'Leary and Barrett, Poughkeepsie) and established in August 2008 by Immediate Past President, Bernice K. Leber (Arent Fox LLP, New York City), was charged with making a thorough study of the issues and challenges that confront solo practitioners and small firms in New York. 

Committee members, working in four sub-committees, also reviewed the quality, accessibility and level of awareness of existing State Bar programs designed to assist solo practitioners and small firms.  They recommended new programs, benefits, resources and services that should be developed to help these practitioners and their firms.

"One of my priorities over the next year as president is to make sure the State Bar offers programs and services that are relevant and helpful to our members, particularly as they struggle in these tough economic times.  With more than 64 percent of our members now working in firms of 20 or fewer attorneys, these initiatives will bring value to the growing majority of our membership," said State Bar President Michael E. Getnick (Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore, LLP, Utica and of counsel to Getnick & Getnick, New York City). "I want to thank Bernice Leber and Robert Ostertag for their leadership on this critical issue."

Short-term Recommendations - to be implemented within two years

  • The State Bar Web site should be redesigned to provide greater and easier access to solo and small firm users, to offer a richer mix of information to assist these users, and to enhance networking and communication opportunities. This recommendation contemplates a greater use of listserves, blogs, social networking opportunities and online continuing legal education offerings.
  • The State Bar should create a permanent institutional home for solo and small firm practitioners within the Association in the form of a coordinating council. This council should include representation in key areas: the General Practice Section, the Executive Committee, the Law Practice Management Committee, the Membership Committee, the Continuing Legal Education Committee, the Publications Department, as well as other sections and committees offering programs and services for solos and small firms.
  • The council should work with the Law Practice Management Committee to assemble an online bank of forms and checklists and other online resources designed to assist solo and small firm practitioners in their daily practice.
  • The Association should sponsor an annual two-day Solo/Small Firm Practice Symposium beginning in June 2010 and each June thereafter to provide a showcase for educational programs, as well as networking opportunities.

Mid-term Recommendations - to be implemented in three to five years

  • The State Bar should develop a membership plan to increase and retain solo and small firm membership.
  • Over the next three to five years, the Association should increase the volume of educational programs and publications targeted to solo and small firm practitioners in print, live CLE and online formats.

Long-term Recommendations - to be implemented after 2014

  • The State Bar should develop a long-term strategic plan for supporting solo and small firm practitioners. This strategic analysis should occur in 2014, following implementation of the short- and mid-term recommendations in this plan.  The plan should be updated every five years thereafter.
  • The Office of Court Administration is requested to continue to work with the State Bar to improve access to the courts for solo and small firm practitioners by enhancing online systems for e-filing, calendar information, case tracking, forms and access to court files.

For a full copy of the New York State Bar Association Special Committee on Solo and Small Firm Practice's report, go to www.nysba.org/SSFReport

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The 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation.  Founded in 1876, State Bar programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.