Tuesday, June 23, 2015

CBA Annual Meeting - June 25, 2015, Standard Club, Noon Luncheon

On June 25, we will celebrate the end of a bar year and the beginning of the next one. Hard to believe that a year has passed since Tim Eaton passed the Lincoln Gavel to me.  It has been an honor and privilege to steward the best bar association in the nation this past year. 

The best part of the job is the ability to work closely with the leadership and staff of The CBA.  A more dedicated, passionate group of people is hard to find.  I thank them for making this job easier than it would be absent them. 

I hope to see you at the Annual Meeting. We will acknowledge the work of The CBA family, including the Executive Director, Terry Murphy, who celebrated 30 years as Executive Director in May.  We will also hand the gavel to our good friend, an exceptional lawyer and leader, and a fantastic person to boot, Patricia Brown Holmes. She will be a fantastic President and we cannot wait to support her as she embarks on a fantastic year.  As I have told her a number of times, savor it - the year will be over just when it seems it has started.

If anything was missed or not to your satisfaction this year at the bar association, it is on me.  For me, I will reflect fondly on this bar year as a highlight of my life and career.  It will be hard to top this experience.  Thank you for the support and allowing me to steward this organization for one year.

Friday, June 12, 2015

YLS Annual Luncheon and a Sendoff of our friend, Jenni

On Wednesday, June 10, the Young Lawyers Section of The Chicago Bar Association held its Annual Meeting at Harry Carey's.  The YLS Annual is a great time to reflect on the great successes of the past bar year by the Chair and YLS.  The YLS is the greatest, strongest young lawyers section in the country, with so many committees and so much community and legal work done.

This luncheon, we celebrated the fantastic year of Paul J. Ochmanek, Jr., who implemented a hugely successful clothing drive and resume review project, as well as a Shadow Program. These were in addition to the large list of annual projects the YLS implements.  Hat's off to my friend and great chair, Paulo!

We also heard the vision and plans of Matt Passen, the new YLS Chair.  His theme for the coming year is, "The Complete Lawyer," and he unveiled a few of his programs planned for his bar year.  The YLS is in good hands with him taking over.

In between hearing about the past YLS year and learning about the plans for the coming  bar year, we celebrated and recognized the YLS leader for the past 11 years, Jenni Bertolino, who is leaving her position.  The twelve YLS chairs who served under her guidance and leadership provided memories of working with Jenni and we then gave Jenni a few gifts to send her off on her journey.  We wish her well and thank her for the incredible service and energy she gave us, making each of the Chairs she served better along the way.

Police Brutality/Know Your Rights - National Bar Association Program

As Pam Meanes was getting ready to become President of the National Bar Association last summer, a number of well publicized incidents occurred involving alleged police brutality.  Pam and her team established a task force to develop strategies to end police brutality.

On Thursday, June 11, Ms. Meanes visited with us to tape two programs for the WYCC show that we do regularly, "Justice and Law Weekly."  Ms. Meanes is a partner at Thompson Colburn LLP, the largest law firm in St. Louis, Missouri.  She was the first African American in the firm's history to be elevated from associate to partner.  Ms. Meanes concentrates her practice in civil litigation. She and I have been working on having her visit Chicago and do some programming.  Ms. Meanes and I were at Monmouth College at the same time and have kept in touch over the years. 

The NBA is the nation's oldest and largest national association of predominantly African American lawyers, judges, educators and law students. It has 84 affiliate chapters throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Africa and the Caribbean. It represents a professional network of more than 65,000 lawyers, judges, educators and law students.

The program consists of four initiatives.  After discussing the problem and thoughts on that, Ms. Meanes discussed the four elements of the program:

  1. Education - Know Your Rights  card
  2. Open Records Request and Preservation of Evidence, Notification Letters
    1. 25 cities and states selected
  3. Advocacy through rallies, press conferences and visiting various officials
  4. Federal legislation for body cameras, use of force training and tactics, annual training in de-escalation and force transition, and other means.
Ms. Meanes is a powerful advocate on the subject and her message is one that needs to be heard so we can have a dialogue on issues that we generally avoid.  The two part discussion is worth a viewing when it airs on WYCC 20 in the future.

John Paul Stevens - A Conversation

On Tuesday, June 9, The Chicago Bar Association welcomed back Justice John Paul Stevens (Ret.), the third longest serving Supreme Court Justice in history.  The day began with a small light luncheon at The CBA headquarters.  Attendees helped celebrate the Justices' belated 95th bday and presented him with a Cubs hat cake.

The attendees then walked over the Harold Washington Pritzker Auditorium for, “A Conversation With Justice John Paul Stevens,” with our wonderful facilitator, Judge Ann Claire Williams, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and is celebrating her 30th year on the bench.

Judge Williams interviewed Justice Stevens, going through his life and his years on the bench.  Justice Stevens reflected on the various questions and at times corrected comments or clarified  items.

The day was incredible, allowing us to hear from one of Chicago's greatest lawyers, a former Chicago Bar Association officer, and one the top Supreme Court justices. His wit, humor and insights were well received.  We look forward to seeing Justice Stevens again soon.   Special thank you to Judge Williams for arranging this visit.  We very much appreciate it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Celebration and Discussion of the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts

On April 30, The Chicago Bar Association had a day of activities to celebrate these two pieces of legislation, arguably the most important two pieces in our nation's history.  The day began with a taping of a show at WYCC, "Bridging the Divide."  (The show will air originally on WYCC 20 at noon on Sunday, May 24.) 

The town hall featured a conversation about the Civil Rights movement with two of the history makers who were there, Mrs. Juanita (Ralph) Abernathy and the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr.   They shared  their recollections of that turbulent time and the status of those two landmark bills in today’s America.  They also challenged the current youth to engage.  The town hall was moderated by Chicago newswoman Renee Ferguson (formerly of WMAQ TV),  and airs Sunday, May 24, at noon and will be repeated on Monday, May 25, at 9:00 pm and Sunday, May 31, at 4:00 pm on Channel 20 - WYCC (PBS).

That evening, The CBA, with its wonderful cosponsors, the Cook County Bar Association and the Black Women Lawyers' Association, held "A Gala Dinner Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts." The evening began with a performance by the Chicago Children's Choir and we then played a number of video vignettes of trailblazers.  After the presentations and recognition of the essay award winner, we recognized four people for their incredible contributions to the Civil Rights Movement:

- Mrs. Juanita Abernathy
- Hon. Martha Mills
- In Honor of President Lyndon B. Johnson, accepted by Mrs. Lynda Johnson Robb
- Dr. Otis Moss, Jr.

Dr. Moss then gave a wonderful keynote presentation. It was an incredible evening and inspirational as well.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Something Wonderful

On Sunday, April 26, The Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, joined by the Elgin Master Chorale and four award-winning soloists of The American Prize in Voice, played at Orchestra Hall.  The event, titled "Something Wonderful: The Music of Rodgers & Hammerstein," was something wonderful.

We are fortunate and unique at The CBA.  We have a phenomenally talented full orchestra and also an amazing chorus.  The 1500 attendees were treated to an amazing performance of songs from the collection of Rodgers & Hammerstein.  The music was very moving and the songs, as was Rodgers & Hammerstein norm, were very upbeat and optimistic.

Special thanks to David Katz, the music director and conductor, Rebecca Patterson, chorus director, and to John Vishneski, the Committee chair for the event and the band leader.  They should be proud of the amazing night they gave us.  It was a night to remember and as I quoted in my program letter, "A lovely night, a lovely night, a finer night you know you'll never see."

Pitfalls in International Contracts

On April 17, 2015, The CBA hosted a group of speakers from around the globe to discuss issues in international contracts.  The distinguished panel consisted of:

1.William (Bill) Snyder, Pech de Laclause & Partners, France

2.Carlos Velázquez De León, Basham, Mexico

3.Caroline Berube, HJM Asia Law & Co LLC, China

4.Lalit Mathur, Indconlegal ILS , India

5.Yoshihisa Hayakawa, Uryu & Itoga, Japan

I was honored to be able to moderate this wonderful panel.  The panel discussed a variety of topics and it was very interesting to hear the different treatments of various issues that arise in contracts.   For example, if you are entering into any transaction in China, regardless of what the parties may like, they must draft the contract in Chinese. 

The CLE was the brainchild of Bill Snyder, who we met on the Paris international CLE during Tim Eaton's bar year.  He suggested visiting Chicago and inviting a number of attorneys from other countries to attend.  The 2.5 hours went by quickly as the panel addressed a list of topics.