Sole Practitioner/Small Firm Section

The Information Exchange
A Sole Practioner/Small Firm Section Publication
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Has Notice Pleading Gone Extinct?
Valuation Cross-Training for Attorneys
Section Networking Breakfast
Keys to Brand development and Using Social Media
Healthcare Options for Small and Solo Practitioners
Seizing Opportunities in Today's Global Market
Quick Links
July 2010
Newsletter Editors: 
James A. Attwood
Clark A.D. Wilson
Sole Practitioner/Small Firm Section Board of Directors
Chair: Scott E. Atwood
Vice Chair/Chair-Elect: David Michael Lilenfeld
Secretary: L. Katherine Adams-Carter
Treasurer: David G. Richards
Immediate Past Chair: Steven W. Hardy

James A. Attwood
The Hon. T. Jackson Bedford, Jr.
Timothy M. Curtin
Monroe J. Feldman
Ronne G. Kaplan
William J. Piercy
Beth E. Rogers
Thomas L. Walker
Robert G. Wellon
Clark A. D. Wilson
Upcoming Events
2010 calendar blueMark your calendars for these upcoming Section events
August Section Breakfast
Thursday, August 19, 2010 - 7:30 am

"Why Businesses (and Therefore You) Care About That New Bilski Case? If You Want to Protect Innovative Business Methods, You Should..."

Speaker: Clark A.D. Wilson, Esq.
Gardner Groff Greenwald & Villanueva, PC

Location: Buckhead Club, 3344 Peachtree Road

1 CLE hour available 
Please register online or return the registration form

Section Networking Social
September 2010

Date, location and details to be announced.  Please check your emails and for updates.

Welcome to the Profession Reception for
New Bar Members
November 2010

Date, location and details to be announced.  Please check your emails and for updates.
Wine Tasting with the Women in the Profession Section
January 2011

Date, location and details to be announced.  Please check your emails and for updates.
Have a Nose for Wine?
In January 2011, our section will hold a wine tasting with the Women in the Profession Section.  We need a couple of volunteer wine enthusiasts to lend their expertise to the event.  So if a few glasses doesn't impair your ability to detect hints of currant or notes of plum, please let us know.
Contact Clark Wilson or Rachel Platt  for details.  
Has Notice Pleading Gone Extinct?: a Summary of the Shift in the Federal Pleading Standard
by David Michael Lilenfeld, Lilenfeld PC

Since Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure was enacted in 1938, the pleading standard in federal courts required only "notice pleading."  In 2007, the United States Supreme Court chipped away at this long standing standard in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007).  More recently, in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009), the Court left little doubt that it did indeed intend a departure from the traditional notice pleading standard.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, a plaintiff needs to make only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."  Rule 8 offers a relatively relaxed standard for plaintiffs bringing claims in federal court.  Traditionally, the Rule sought to avoid dismissals of claims based on technicalities and instead focus the judicial process on the merits of the case.  Rule 8's liberal standard was embraced by Supreme Court in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957), which popularized the term "notice pleading."  Rule 8 simply requires a claim that "give[s] the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests."
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Michael Blake Discusses "Valuation Cross-Training for Attorneys" at the June 24, 2010 Section Luncheon

Michael BlakeMichael Blake, CFA, ASA is Director of Valuation Services for Habif, Arogeti & Wynne in Atlanta.  Mike provides valuation services for transaction advisory, dispute resolution, fair value accounting, and tax and regulatory compliance purposes.  Mike's goal was to empower attorneys to give their clients some high-level valuation guidance and not leave them completely at the mercy of business appraisers.  Mike shared some insights, as well as hard-to-find data that can help attorneys give their clients a very rough, but informed estimate of a given company's value.  Mike also acknowledges that even professional appraisers have limitations in the degree of certainty associated with any business appraisal, and identified the areas in which most of those uncertainties lie.

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June 17, 2010 Section Networking Breakfast 
Instead of a speaker, the June 17, 2010 breakfast meeting gave members an opportunity to network.  The meeting was devoted to talking with other section members and learning more about our respective practices.  To give members a chance to network, we are planning similar meetings and social gatherings in the future.
Panel Discusses "Keys to Brand Development and Using Social Media" at May 20, 2010 Joint Section Breakfast
The SPSF Section held a joint breakfast with the Real Estate Section.  Ilcye R. Glink, Melissa D. Johnson, and Johnathan M. Black held a panel discussion on "Keys to Brand Development and Using Social Media."  Much of the focus was on branding.  Although attorneys do not think about branding their practices, the panel noted that developing a brand will translate into greater success.  At its basic level, a brand is a concept or service associated with a person or company.  It becomes a part of the person's or company's identity.  An attorney can develop a brand to allow other attorneys to understand more easily his or her practice and to think of that attorney when making a referral. 
The panel also discussed the importance of using social media to develop an attorney's practice.  According to the panel, the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have created a demand for attorneys to use social media or similar websites such as LinkedIn to market their practices.  These kinds of websites have also increased the importance of brevity and conveying messages through photographs and video.  The panel addressed the obvious concern about maintaining a professional image.  They advised the group to hire a professional when making videos for firm websites.
Prior to the panel discussion, the new chairman of the SPSF board of directors, Scott Atwood, recognized our outgoing chairman, Steven W. Hardy.  We greatly appreciate Steve's service as chairman and his outstanding efforts in promoting and guiding our section during the previous year.  
Nancy Sobin Discusses "Healthcare Options for Small and Solo Practitioners" at the April 22, 2010 Section Luncheon 
Nancy Sobin presented "Healthcare Options for Small and Solo Practitioners" at the April lunch meeting.  Ms. Sobin focused on health insurance, disability insurance, and long-term care insurance.  For each kind of insurance, she discussed advantages and disadvantages of available policies. 
Regarding health insurance, Ms. Sobin addressed various plan options.  An individual health insurance plan is geared towards healthy people who do not have access to group plans.  Compared to very small group plans, an individual plan can be cheaper.  However, prices of individual plans have a tendency to increase, and they have fewer features.  Another option is an HMO.  It usually offers the lowest group premium, and all services are available for a co-pay.  Disadvantages of an HMO are less flexibility; an insured must stay in network to receive benefits.  A point of service (POS) plan is a hybrid between an HMO and a PPO.  The POS option has fairly low premiums and more freedom than an HMO.  Although a POS does provide some out-of-network coverage, it is less than a PPO.  Both an HMO and PPO require the insured's primary care physician to coordinate care.
Representatives From Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Discuss "Seizing Opportunities in Today's Global Market" at the April 15, 2010 Breakfast 
At the April breakfast meeting, representatives from Merrill Lynch Wealth Management spoke to the group about smart ideas for increasing your allocation to global investments.  The speakers stressed the importance of diversifying your personal investments with assets in international markets.  The reason for this strategy is that the US budget deficit may hinder domestic growth, the US recovery may lag that of other markets, the US dollar may weaken compared to foreign currencies and the US contribution to global GDP growth is estimated to be 16 cents of every $1 in 2010.  In fact, emerging markets are estimated to comprise 67% of the 2010 global GDP.
A strategy for improved growth is to invest more efficiently and balance your portfolio with domestic and foreign assets.  Such a globally balanced portfolio has proven to produce more return per unit of risk during the 1980-2008 period than a 100% US focused approach.  One reason for this is that between 2008-2030 the percentage of foreign companies that comprise the global stock market capitalization will increase from 68% to 77%, therefore reducing the percentage of US companies in this index.  A further reason to balance your portfolio with US and foreign investments is that such a blend will prove to be less volatile because the different market will not fluctuate in tandem.  A portfolio of only US or only foreign assets will suffer from potential economic woes felt by a single country.
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Thank You to Our Section Sponsor

Habif Arogeti & Wynne