The Solo & Small Firm Section of the Alabama State Bar was founded by Sam Irby, a bar commissioner from Fairhope, whose number one concern was “the plight of the average lawyer.” Sam served two years as chair of the new Section and went on to become president of the Alabama State Bar. Subsequent section chairs were Jana Garner of Selma, Taze Shepard of Huntsville, and Tom Perry of Demopolis.
Former Alabama State Bar president Sam Irby (right) presents the 2019 Al Vreeland Volunteer of the Year award to former Section chair Taze Shepard (left) at the Alabama State Bar’s 2019 Annual Meeting in Point Clear, Alabama.
Today the Solo & Small Firm Section is one of the largest and most active section of the Alabama State Bar, with over 950 members. The SSF Section emphasizes service to solo and small firm lawyers but is open to all lawyers in Alabama.
The section’s most popular feature is its very active LISTSERV(reg), where members ask for advice on legal issues, post possible referrals, and trade suggestions on law practice management.
The section also creates free and low cost CLE opportunities for its members and all Alabama attorneys, such as live-streaming section CLE events. The most popular CLE opportunity to date has been the Probate Practice series, where the section partnered with the Alabama Probate Judges Association and local bar associations in seven areas of the state to provide a CLE event of six credit hours and lunch for $25. This program reached almost a thousand lawyers during Spring 2019. A similar six-hours-and-lunch program on District Court Practice planned for Spring 2020 was forced online by the pandemic, but nevertheless reached over 600 lawyers.
Hundreds of lawyers gathered in person and online for the Section’s “Cyber Crime and Law Firms” CLE event at the Alabama State Bar’s Annual Meeting 2019 at The Grand Hotel in Point Clear.
In addition to the section’s growing forms and knowledge bank, a partnership between the section and Legal Services Alabama produced an e-book of useful legal forms for both pro bono and private cases. The Section also upgraded its website in 2019 to provide additional services to its members.
Section leaders are working on a comprehensive program of Wellness for Attorneys. Section members are also encouraged to pursue service to their community, including pro bono cases with the various Volunteer Lawyer Programs in Alabama.