Patrick Francomano and Susan A. Huettner have been named co-chairs of the newly created General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section, which was approved at the Jan. 25 House of Delegates meeting.
The membership is currently being assembled for the section council, which is expected to begin meeting in the spring. Details about joining the new section will be announced shortly. MBA Vice President Denise Squillante, who led the effort to create the MBA’s 16th section (the Young Lawyers Section became a division of the MBA at the Sept. 20 House of Delegates), said she is enthusiastic about the opportunities the new section provides.
General practice, solo and small firm attorneys make up the “bulk” of the MBA’s membership, Squillante said, so it makes sense to give them the support and forum they need. The creation of the section should appeal to existing MBA members as well as attorneys who haven’t joined, she said, noting that the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Conference held last summer in Taunton attracted 100 attorneys, many of whom were not members and were attending their first MBA event.
“After the conference, it became apparent to me how the lawyers were thirsting for this group,” Squillante said. “I think it’s going to bring out lawyers who are new faces to the MBA because we’re recognizing them. I think the new section will lead to new MBA membership and bar leaders.” Squillante and other organizers of last year’s conference are expecting to build on that momentum with the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Conference scheduled for Thursday, June 7, at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel in Springfield.
Squillante, who currently heads the Lawyers in Transition Task Force, said she’d like to convert the task force into a practice group within the section, since so many lawyers whose careers are in transition or on hiatus fall within the general practice, solo or small firm field.
The new section will complement the work being done in the other sections, said Squillante, who will serve as the officers’ liaison to the new section council.
“It will overlap and work in conjunction with the other section councils,” she said. “My vision of this is not that it’s going to take away from other sections, but that it’s going to work collaboratively with the other sections.” Francomano, of the Law Office of Patrick Francomano, has been an active member of the MBA for more than 15 years. He has served as a member of the Law Practice Management Section Council and on various MBA committees, including the Solo/Small Firm Committee and the Lawyers in Transition Committee. A graduate of the New England School of Law, he practices in North Attleboro.
Huettner practices in Falmouth at the Law Office of Susan A. Huettner PC. Huettner has been an active member of the MBA for more than a decade, serving on the Family Law and Law Practice Management Section Councils and several different MBA committees, as well as the House of Delegates. Huettner received her bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College and her J.D. from Indiana University.
Huettner said there is a definite need to reach out to solo and small firm attorneys. “A vast part of the membership is solo and small firms, and they face challenges that larger firms don’t because of their scale. They have to be their own personnel manager, their own research aide, their own everything. The challenges of running a solo or small office are greater, in some regards.”
The goal of the new section, Huettner said, is to enhance attorneys’ practices with resources such as providing networking and educational support, a point that Squillante emphasized.
“One of my visions is to see this section council be able to reach out throughout the state and network and mentor and partner,” she said, envisioning a section council that will partner with bar leaders across the state. “It’s very exciting for the MBA to have this new section in place,” Squillante said. “I’m glad to see that it’s off to a running start."