Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Inaugural Boat Cruise for YLS

Ten years ago, I passed the gavel of YLS Chair to Charis Runnels.  At that time and for many years after, I knew many of the young lawyers in leadership positions in the YLS.  The YLS membership is for attorneys out less than ten years.  So, time moves on and the familiarity grows less.

On Friday, September 19, the YLS held its inaugural boat cruise social.  125 young lawyers (or young at heart, like myself) enjoyed an outstanding evening aboard a cruise ship, taking in the sights of the city at night and enjoying an excellent DJ.  I was able to chat with many friends I knew and met a number of new friends as well. Paul Ochmanek, YLS Chair, and his Social Committee and Exec Council are to be commended on a great idea that we look forward to enjoying in future years. The cruise reaffirmed what we already knew - our profession is in fantastic hands and has a bright future ahead of it with the energetic, wonderful young lawyers we have.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Justice John Paul Stevens Award Luncheon

Thursday was a special day for The Chicago Bar Association. We had the privilege of hosting The Justice John Paul Stevens Award Luncheon with our good friend and The Chicago Bar Foundation President, Jesse Ruiz.  This award luncheon is named after our dear friend,  one of Chicago’s greatest lawyers, and one of the top Supreme Court justices of all times, Justice John Paul Stevens.

After we introduced the dais, which included the eight honorees as well as other dignitaries, including the Justice, Jesse Ruiz provided an overview of the history of the award. After lunch, the official program began.  We were delighted to share the dais with Justice Stevens. I discussed my interest in reading Supreme Court history and biography and teaching a class on US Supreme Court Judicial Biography at The John Marshall Law School.  We do not focus on recent justices, but the decisions and dissents of Justice Stevens often come up in discussions with students. We are so proud of Justice Stevens and his extraordinary career in the law and judiciary, and of his thoughtful proposals in his new book, "Six Amendments --- How and Why We Should Change the Constitution."

In this remarkable man’s honor we recognized eight attorneys who have, like Justice John Paul Stevens, demonstrated extraordinary integrity and service to the community throughout their careers.  For each of the following honorees, we showed their video presentation and then presented each of them with the award and a signed copy of Justice Stevens’ book. The eight recipients were:

 Winston & Strawn

 Illinois Appellate Court

 Forde Law Offices

Illinois Appellate Court

Illinois Supreme Court

 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

 Drinker Biddle & Reath

 Peck Bloom]

After the presentations, we sang “Happy Birthday” to Judge Bauer to celebrate his 88th birthday and presented him with a bottle of Glenlivet.  Judge Bauer then introduced Justice John Paul Stevens, who spoke about his book and a critique by a Northwestern College of Law professor, Steven Calabrisi.  Again, it was such an honor and privilege to have Justice Stevens present at this wonderful event to celebrate and honor him and his life as a lawyer and judge.

We topped off the great day by having the All Bar Welcome Reception for our incredible YLS Chair, Paul Ochmanek, and me.  A great day at The CBA!

91st Annual CBA Golf Outing

On Wednesday, September 18, more than 80 golfers hit the links at the beautiful Harborside International Golf Course.  The Chicago Bar Association hosted its 91st Annual Golf Outing.  Participants had the benefit of an amazing day weather wise, and opportunities to golf in a scramble event, meet many of the hole sponsors, mingle and network.   One of the sponsors had a marshmallow hitting contest.   The winning threesome hit a smoking 60, which is 12 under par on this links course!  (My threesome hit par, thanks to Mike Dickman, and we thought we would in the running - to find out that we were towards the bottom of the foursomes.)

Thank you to all of the generous sponsors of this event, to Justin Heather, who chaired the committee this year, and to Angie Cruz, who works at The CBA and coordinates this event among many other duties.  As usual, the outing went off without a hitch and the golfers and diners enjoyed a wonderful day of golf and camaraderie.  We look forward to the 92nd Annual Golf Outing next year.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Delegation from Mexico Visits The Chicago Bar Assocation Board of Managers - September 16, 2014

On Tuesday, September 19, The Chicago Bar Association held its monthly Board of Managers meeting.  The Board of Managers is the governing body of your bar association.  It meets monthly during the bar year to address programming, issues, and legislation. At Tuesday's meeting, we had as special guests a delegation from the Mexico Supreme Court.   The delegation consisted of clerks to the Supreme Court.

In Mexico, each justice has twenty clerks to assist them. The clerks, like in the United States Supreme Court, are lawyers.  The delegation visit was made possible thanks to the work of our Board of Managers member, Justice Jesse Reyes, and of Alex Menchaca, former President of the Hispanic Lawyers of Illinois.  We had an interesting discussion with the delegation during their visit.  In Mexico, the federal government recently changed the way that the justice system works.  Currently, the decisions of trial courts are based on paper files with no cross examination or examination of the witnesses.   Changes that the Mexican government approved in 2008 will take place in 2015, including changing the criminal process and having a process more similar to the United States.

Another interesting practice in Mexico is the publication of draft opinions by its Supreme Court. Anyone can provide input into the draft opinion and based on the input, the final decision may change.  It is hard to imagine that kind of interaction in our system.

We invited the delegation to stay in touch with The Chicago Bar Association and let us know how we can assist Mexico as it prepares for the major transition of its justice system.  Thank you to Justice Reyes and Alex for arranging the meeting with the Board of Managers.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

World City Bar Leaders Conference - Phliladelphia, PA, September 10-13, 2014

The World City Bar Leaders Conference is an international conference welcoming leaders of metropolitan bar associations around the world.   The first WCBL conference took place in New York City just weeks after 9/11.  The CBA has been a participant in these events from the beginning.  Past venues have included Frankfurt, Montreal and Tokyo. This year's conference, the 9th, was hosted by the Philadelphia Bar Association.  Philadelphia again raised the bar on future WCBL conferences.

WCBL conferences are intended to bring together bar associations' leaders from around the globe to network and to learn from each other.  16 organizations with more than 40 total delegates attended this year's conference.  Delegates included lawyers from Beijing, Barcelona, Ho Chi Minh, Tokyo, Warsaw and Jakarta. It was an amazing conference where new friends were met and old friends were reacquainted.  Attendees heard from the world's leading lawyers and judges on topics that included judicial and attorney ethics and discipline; security vs. privacy; the legal history of the Barnes Foundation; international discovery; dealing with disasters; law as a business; and, access to justice.  Special visitors included Philadelphia's mayor, Michael Nutter, who welcomed the attendees and chatted briefly with each delegate.

Social gatherings and events included a guided tour of The Barnes Foundation, one of the most peculiar, extensive and interesting collections of impressionist art that exists; dinner at the Rodin Museum; and, a visit to a suite at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies.  The events were wonderful opportunities to chat with other attendees and learn about other cultures and traditions.

The conference ended on Saturday with Bill Fedullo, Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, and me giving a presentation on Philadelphia, the birthplace of our nation, followed by a guided tour of the city and its history. The fabulous conference ended with a  wonderful lunch.

The WCBL will next be held in Barcelona, Spain, at some point in the next 18 months.  We look forward to the continued strong involvement of The Chicago Bar Association in this wonderful conference.

North Suburban Bar Association Installation Dinner

On Tuesday, September 8, we attended the North Suburban Bar Association's Installation Dinner on behalf of The Chicago Bar Association.  Jan Weinstein assessed her year as President of the NSBA and the accomplishments she and the board had achieved.  She then passed the gavel to the incoming President, Anna Morrison-Ricordati.  Anna covered her plans for the coming bar year, including another joint program with the NSBA this bar year.   After the officers and directors were installed by Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans, the NSBA awarded its Blustin Award to Terry Hake, who went undercover and helped to bring the corruption taking place in our system in the late 1970's and early 1980's, what would be known eventually as Operation Greylord.   Terry gave a short presentation on the work he did during that time.  The night ended with a younger lawyer giving a humorous presentation of things he wished he had known as a young lawyer.  

Congratulations to Jan, Anna and Terry.  It was a great evening and we look forward to working with the NSBA on future joint programming during this bar year and for many bar years.

A Conversation With Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

On Monday, September 8, The Chicago Bar Association kicked off the post-Labor Day holiday by having a conversation with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Our wonderful facilitator and interviewer was Judge Ann Claire Williams.  Judge Williams covered a wide range of topics with Justice Ginsburg, including her childhood and her parents, her law school experience, and her advocacy for gender equality as a lawyer before becoming a judge.

 Justice Ginsburg discussed the challenges facing her as a female attorney in law school and after, as well as her thoughts on a wide variety of other topics.    It was an amazing day, having two incredibly talented federal jurists on stage.  More than 900 attendees heard Justice Ginsburg and Judge Williams having a discussion.   Everyone was focused on the conversation, no one was looking at their watches or fidgeting to leave.  A big thank you to both jurists for ensuring this bar year would get off to a start that will be difficult to surpass.