Friday, July 25, 2014

Partnershi8p for the Future

Next time you enter your bar association for a meeting or visit, take a moment to look at the name plates that adorn each of the stairs on the grand staircase in the lobby.  Last night, the Chicago Bar Association held a Partnership for the Future Thank You Reception at the Association.  The reception was held to recognize the generous sponsorship of twenty-one individuals, firms and/or groups.   Each of the 21 sponsored a stair.  The purpose of the Partnership was to raise funds for the Chicago Bar Association to help it retire its mortgage quicker.  

The Partnership was the brainchild of current 2nd Vice President, Dan Kotin, who developed and implemented the idea. Thanks to his outstanding efforts, each of the 21 stairs was sponsored and the CBA was able to raise a lot of money towards retiring the mortgage.   A big thank you to Dan for his work on the Partnership, helping ensure the continued financial strength of your bar association.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Celebration of Pro Bono and Public Service - The 16th CBA & CBF Pro Bono & Public Service Awards Luncheon

On Tuesday, July 15, the CBA & CBF Pro Bono & Public Service Awards Luncheon was held at the Fairmont Hotel.   The event honors and recognizes those from all spectrums of our legal system who are dedicated and committed to pro bono and public service.   The event is one of the most inspirational ones in the legal community each year, hearing the seven award recipients' accomplishments and advancement of the notion of equal access to justice for all.  

This year, CBF Executive Director Bob Glaves changed the beginning of the program to show the video, We Take Care of Our Own, by Bruce Springsteen, a call to arms by Bruce of having a broader view of the world in which we live. At the end of the program, Bob explained the reason for showing the video and expressed the great work that the legal community is doing to commit to the equal access to justice.

The richly deserving recipients of the seven named awards were:

Kimball R. Anderson and Karen Gatsis Anderson Public Interest Law Fellowship
Catherine LongkumerLegal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services

Exelon Outstanding Corporate Counsel Award
Mary Jo QuinnAllstate Insurance Company

Edward J. Lewis II Pro Bono Service Award
Jill M. MetzJill M. Metz & Associates

Leonard Jay Schrager Award of Excellence
Michael P. SengThe John Marshall Law School

Maurice Weigle Exceptional Young Lawyer Award
Brian K. JonesHarrison & Held, LLP

Richard J. Phelan Public Service Award
Michael J. PelletierOffice of the State Appellate Defender

Thomas H. Morsch Public Service Award
Denice Wolf MarkhamLife Span

Listening to the efforts these seven give to our legal system on various important fronts (human trafficking, expungements, LGBT rights, fair housing, wills, indigent defendants and domestic violence) should inspire in each of us a desire to do more, to get more involved, to better our community.  Congratulations to these seven wonderful examples of what it means to give back and serve the community.   Let us emulate their conduct and do what we can for the cause of equal access to justice.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Muslim Bar Assocation of Chicago Iftar

On Thursday, July 10, we attended the annual Iftar dinner of the Muslim Bar Association of Chicago.  Azam Nizamuddin, the newly installed President of the MBA, invited us to the dinner.  As we discussed at the Annual Meeting, our goal is to continue the efforts of Tim Eaton, Aurora Austriaco and other past Presidents to engage with other bar associations.  We all have many common goals and visions for our membership and we all have an interest in ensuring that the members' needs are addressed and met.

Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims break their fast at sunset during the Islamic month of Ramadan.   I had never attended an iftar and had never witnessed Muslim prayer time.   This was a first and I am grateful that Azam invited me.   I was able to eat with the large group of MBA members who attended the iftar, as well as with Jim McCluskey, Secretary for the ISBA.  The evening began with some snacking at sunset, followed by prayer time.  After prayers were done, Azam explained what we had witnessed.  

We then returned to the grill for dinner and a program.  McCluskey and I were able to address the audience and we both offered up our thanks and our interest in working with the MBA on issues of common interest to our members, such as CLE.  The main part of the formal program was a presentation by Mohamed Sabur, Director, Program to Strengthen Muslim Charities, Muslim Advocates.  He explained what Muslim Advocates does and then discussed the federal district court case, Hassan et al v. City of New York, which challenges surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey by the New York City Police Department.  Sabur reported that the Muslim Advocates, along with others who filed the suit and accompanied by numerous amicus briefs, have filed an appeal with the 3rd Circuit seeking to overturn the district court's decision granting the defendant's motion to dismiss.

We look forward to working with the MBA on various projects and with other bar associations during this bar year.

Friday, June 27, 2014

CBA Annual Meeting

On Thursday, at The Standard Club, the Chicago Bar Association held its Annual Meeting.  Father Greg Sakowicz started the meeting with a wonderful invocation, followed by the annual meeting business portion of the meeting.  Outstanding President Tim Eaton than gave his remarks and summarized an absolutely fantastic bar year under his leadership. The gavel then was turned over to me.  I am honored and privileged to be the President for the coming bar year.  It is a year of service and I am committed to working with the YLS, led by Chair Paul Ochmanek, to address the needs of the young lawyer.  They are the future of our profession.   This is your bar and as I have said a number of times, I am hear to listen and serve you.  My email is CBAPrez201415@gmail.com, and the Twitter handle is @cbaprez201415.   Shoot me a note, give me a call, express your concerns.   We are here to serve the members.   With the outstanding staff of the CBA, led by Executive Director Terry Murphy and Assistant Executive Director Beth McMeen, and outstanding Board of Managers, committeees, and YLS, we have the tools in place to provide value added benefits to all of our members.  Look forward to continuing to work with you in this coming bar year.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Jenner and Block- Celebration of a Century

Congratulations to Jenner & Block, celebrating its Centennial Anniversary this year.   Jenner is a leading firm on the national stage in both corporate transactions and in litigation.  But Jenner is not just an outstanding firm of lawyers. One of the things we discussed last night with several people in attendance at the wonderful celebration they held at the office was how as a big firm, they not only are serious about the exceptional practice of law, but also dedicated to pro bono and the community.  Exhibits last night at the reception reflected some of that involvement.   Their websites states: "A commitment to public service is part of the DNA of our firm.  We are known for our long tradition of pro bono advocacy, as well as service to the bar and to our communities.  The American Lawyer magazine has ranked Jenner & Block as the Number One pro bono firm in the country five times, most recently in 2012.  Other accolades have come from The National Law Journal, which named the firm to its 2011 "Pro Bono Hot List," and Law360, which has recognized the firm as a top “Pro Bono Firm” for three consecutive years since 2010."  And committed they are.  They have worked extensively on Guatanamo Bay, as just one example of their commitment.  They are also committed to community and bar involvement.   Howard Suskin currently serves as Pro Bono General Counsel to the Chicago Bar Assocaition.  Terri Macherin was President of the CBA a few years ago, Jeff Colman was President of the Chicago Bar Foundation, and the list goes on.  At the vice chair and chair orientation this week, a number of attorneys who introduced themselves were Jenner attorneys.  Congratulations to a fine Chicago-founded and based firm that sets the standard for how big firms should conduct themselves in the legal community and larger community.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

From the Desk of CBA First Vice President Dan Cotter

Today, we held orientation for the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the CBA Committees.  More than 80 Chairs and Vice Chairs attended the orientation.    Our committees are the lifeblood of this organization.    With the work they do and the second to none staff we have at your bar association, including Executive Director Terry Murphy and Assistant Executive Director Beth McMeen, our bar association is the best bar association I know.   Committees hold monthly meetings with outstanding speakers and cutting edge topics and also put on 150+ 3 hour CLE courses per year.   Those numbers are an amazing testament to the commitment our Chairs and Vice Chairs make to ensure this is the top bar association in the nation.

Attendees met other leadership of the committees.  After being welcomed and given a sneak peak of the projects for the coming bar year, Terry Murphy provided an overview of the CBA and the work it does.  Attendees next heard form Karen Stanton, who covered the responsibilities of committees.  Sharon Eiseman, Legislative Committee Chair, next discussed the important work that the CBA does in the legislative arena, and our lobbyist, Larry Suffredin, covered the past legislative year.  

Bob Glaves discussed the important work that the Chicago Bar Foundation does to ensure access to justice, and then Al Nicgorski, Vice Chair of the CLE Committee, and Beth Mcmeen discussed  CLE and committee meetings.   Orientation provides the committees leadership with the tools to be effective leaders.   In a year of service, these individuals truly the lifeblood of your bar association.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

From the Desk of CBA 1st Vice President Dan Cotter

Friday and Saturday were busy days in the bar associations world.  On Friday evening, in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, the Illinois State Bar Association held its Annual Meeting.  The CBA was represented at the Annual Dinner and President's Installation by President Tim Eaton, 1st Vice President Dan Cotter and Executive Director Terry Murphy, as well as by others who belong to both bar associations.   ISBA President Paula Holderman was recognized for her outstanding year and focus on young lawyers as well as diversity.   Rick Felice was installed as the ISBA President, and discussed his plans for the coming year, with a strong focus on law student debt and civics.  

On Saturday evening, the Cook County Bar Association celebrated its Centennial Gala, Destiny in Time, at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.   The CCBA celebrated its founding and its century of work for the profession.   Delores Robinson was celebrated for her excellence leadership and a large number of past presidents were in attendance to be celebrated. Celestia Mays was installed as the Centennial President and spoke about her focus on the young lawyer for the coming bar year.

At both events, we spoke with leaders of these bar associations as well as other bar associations, including the North Suburban Bar Association and the DuPage County Bar Association.   What is striking is that each bar association has the same concerns and issues it is addressing:  1) young lawyers and issues associated with this group, such as high debt and limited opportunities to develop; 2) diversity in the profession and bar groups; and 3) civics and need to educate the public on the important role lawyers play. We have discussed the needs of members with other organizations as well, such as the Illinois Judges Association.

Tim Eaton and his predecessors have done a good job of reaching out to the various bar associations and finding ways to work together.   We will continue to strive to find ways to work together on programming and trying to solve some of the issues facing our profession.  We are all in this together and all have the same goals in mind - the betterment of the profession and service to the profession.    Working together,  we can more effectively provide value added services to lawyers and the members of the respective bars.  There is strength in numbers and working together.   We will set up meetings with bar associations to find ways we can jointly tackle the issues that face this wonderful profession.    If you have ideas or have connections with people in various organizations you believe the CBA should reach out to, please let us know.