Wednesday, April 8, 2015


People from The Chicago Bar Association and friends began to arrive in Madrid, Spain, over the Easter weekend to enjoy the front end of the International trip to Spain.  After having a weekend to explore the wonderful city, on Monday, the group of thirty plus enjoyed a tour of the Supreme Court of Spain.  Housed in a former palace, the tour provided insights into the Spanish legal system.  Thanks to our friend, Jesus, who set up the tour and arrangements for Madrid, we learned about the court system and the criminal system of Spain. 

Later in the afternoon, we had a wonderful guided tour of Old Madrid and ended the night with an amazing dinner at Julian de Tolosa.  This restaurant is a satellite of the Julian Casa in northeastern Spain.  Some food critics have called the steak here the best ever.  The steaks lived up to their billing, a wonderful feast and tastily seasoned treat.  Well worth the visit.

The Madrid leg of the international trip is over, we traveled by bullet train to Barcelona on Tuesday.  We had an amazing opening reception at the Barcelona Bar Association and look forward to an amazing couple of days in Barcelona.

Muy  Bueno!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Vanguard Awards Luncheon

On April 2, 6 amazing individuals were recognized at the 2015 Vanguard Awards Luncheon at The Standard Club. 

The Vanguard Awards is an annual luncheon put on by the following six bar associations:
The Asian American Bar Association of Chicago
The Chicago Bar Association
The Cook County Bar Association
The Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois
The Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago
The Puerto Rican Bar Association
The event is designed to honor individuals and institutions who have made the law and legal profession more accessible to and reflective of the community at-large.  Each of this year's recipients demonstrate that commitment.  This years honorees were:

Jim Bennett, Midwest Regional Director, Lambda Legal
Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago Honoree

Hon. Sharon Johnson Coleman
, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
Chicago Bar Association Honoree

Virginia Martinez, Illinois Latino Family Commission
Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois Honoree

Anne Shaw, Shaw Legal Services
Asian American Bar Association of Chicago Honoree

Justice John O. Steele, Ret.
, Illinois Appellate Court
Cook County Bar Association Honoree

Hon. Mary Jane Theis, Illinois Supreme Court
Puerto Rican Bar Association Honoree

Each gave wonderful comments in accepting the award.  As always, the luncheon inspired attendees and acknowledged the leadership the recipients have demonstrated in the community.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The CBA/YLS Shadow Program

Do you know that in February, the YLS launched a shadow program?  If you are a law student, you should find opportunities to shadow a practitioner or judge.  If you are a lawyer, sign up and have someone shadow you - you may be helping that law student decide if a particular type of work or practice area is right.

The purpose of the program is to allow other law students exposure to various fields and types of practice to be able to make similar informed decisions.  Paul Ochmanek, YLS Chair, describes the program:

“The program's purpose was to expose law students to the actual practice of law by creating opportunities to observe ("shadow") actual lawyers.  The law students would obtain valuable experience watching lawyers throughout a variety of practice areas.  The program extended to all areas of practice and well beyond Cook County, as lawyers and students throughout Illinois are permitted to participate.”


Law students should visit the link, is, to review shadow opportunities.  Lawyers should also visit the link to submit shadow opportunities.  This program can be successful if all of you provide such opportunities.
Here is a real life example - on the first day of the program, I posted for a shadow opportunity.  One person responded.  She visited the next week, enjoyed the experience and sent a note asking if she could shadow again during her spring break.  I replied that would be great. She visited, and we have now extended a job offer to her as a paid clerk.  That job could eventually lead to a full-time position when she graduates.  So again, if you are a law student, what are you waiting for?  Sign up for a shadow opportunity today.

Earl B. Dickerson Award Luncheon

On February 24, 2015, hundreds of attendees were present to recognize the Honorable Shelvin Louise Marie Hall as this year's Earl B. Dickerson Award Luncheon honoree. 
 The Dickerson Award was established by the CBA in 1990 and honors a lawyer or judge whose career at the bar emulates the courage and dedication of Dickerson in making the law the key to justice for all in our society. 

Earl Dickerson was an outstanding lawyer and in 1945 was among the first African-Americans to become a member of The Chicago Bar Association.  In September 2006, I reviewed a book about Mr. Dickerson authored by Robert Blakley.  The title of that review was, “The Definition of Inspiration.” Mr. Dickerson certainly was an inspiring individual. He was the first African American graduate from the University of Chicago Law School and was the lead lawyer in the landmark case of Hansberry v. Lee, which Dickerson successfully argued in the United States Supreme Court.  This historic case eliminated restrictive housing covenants in the City of Chicago and nationwide.   Dickerson was also General Counsel of a life insurance company and eventually became President of the company.

Justice Hall definitely is the epitome of what this award was created to recognize.  Her leadership in the profession and on the bench, her mentoring of so many legal professionals, and her commitment to the law and justice is a model we can all learn to exercise more in our daily work.

After being introduced by Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr., Justice Hall gave a very powerful and moving speech, ending with the story of the redwood and how its roots are all intricately woven, making a tree that should not remain standing thrive.  She also challenged all in the room to write down her email address and send her a note in a year indicating how we had done something to improve the community.  I have put that date on my calendar and will be sending her a note.  I challenge each of you to do the same.  How powerful can we be together?


Monday, February 9, 2015

Metropolitan Bar Caucus at ABA Midyear

The Chicago Bar Association, in conjunction with a few other metropolitan bar associations, started the Metropolitan Bar Caucus in 1979.  Former CBA President, George Burditt, was its second president. The MBC is a sub-group of the National Conference of Bar Presidents that "seeks to address the interests and concerns of major metropolitan bar associations throughout the United States."  At midyear and annual meetings of the ABA, the MBC provides programming as well as an opportunity to discuss matters of importance to the metropolitan bars.

This past week, at the Houston ABA Midyear, the MBC put on a fantastic slate of programming.  Its first session discussed non-dues revenues ideas for metropolitan bars, including Amazon Smiles and lawyer referral services.  The second session focused on mentoring programs, especially for young lawyers.  At the end of Friday, the MBC held its In Vino Veritas session, which is a brainstorming program designed to address issues facing the metropolitan bars.  The session was great, with the only critique that one hour slotted for it was not sufficient to discuss the topics at hand.  The session focused on membership, finances and programming issues.  Those three topics came out of a survey the MBC performed last year of its members. 

The CBA is faring well on all three of those fronts and has outstanding programs in place to address non-dues revenue and mentoring.  However, it is always good to network and interact with our peer bar associations.  The sessions and programs confirmed that The CBA has the same issues facing it as other voluntary metropolitan bars and also confirmed that The CBA is a leading bar association addressing issues for its members and the community. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Barcelona and Spain Await Us

This past week I had the honor of attending the Barcelona Bar Association's Festivity of Sant Raimon de Penyafort.  The festivity is a celebration of the lawyers of the Barcelona Bar, with recognition for 25 and 50 year memberships, as well as a remembrance of those lawyers who have passed in the last

The program that is not only well attended locally, but also by the FBE (Federation of Bars of Europe) as well as many other parts of the world.  On Saturday, I spoke with attorneys from Milan, Paris and Osaka about legal aid systems in our various locations. It was a fantastic discussion.

Part of the reason for the trip was also to solidify the Barcelona portion of our International CLE.  The local bar is working hard to ensure that the dining, events, programs and experience will be second to none.  I spent time with the chairs of the International Committee and also with the staff who have responsibility for international programming. 

You do not want to miss this week of experiencing Spain, meeting new friends and visiting with old friends.  Es muy bien y   será un momento de diversión.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Annual Illinois Supreme Court Dinner - ISBA/CBA

Each year, The ISBA and The CBA cosponsor a dinner at The ISBA midyear to recognize the Illinois Supreme Court.  At the dinner, a Supreme Court Justice speaks. This year, Justice Robert Thomas spoke.  A video of his speech is available at  It is worthwhile to spend a few minutes and watch this serious presentation.

Justice Thomas opened by noting his normal approach is lighthearted and self-deprecating. But not on this occasion. He discussed the "crisis of trust" facing our nation on many fronts, including our politicians.  Justice  Thomas noted, " Earlier this year, an ABC news poll confirmed that, for the first time in the 25-year history of that poll, more than half the country disapproves not only of Congress as an institution, but also of their own local representative. This has never happened before, and it is deeply illustrative of the crisis of trust we are facing."

 He then turned to the situation in Ferguson, noting that it is something we as lawyers and judges are involved in the very system being attacked.  He stated, "But we do serve the legal system. And that system is at the heart of the Ferguson crisis, and there is no question that for many in our country, trust in the legal system – in the system you and I serve – has broken down." 

He explained that when we face such breakdown of trust, we can either "choose cynicism and despair, or we can choose hope."  If we choose the latter, "We commit ourselves to ensuring that, to the extent it is within our power, the shadow of injustice, inequality, or corruption never taints the work we ourselves do."

He closed by imploring each of us in the legal community to work with hope and trust and that "it is the very least we owe to one another."

It was a powerful speech and I encourage you to watch it and act upon the demand.