Monday, October 20, 2014

Mentoring that Matters

A while back, Justice Jesse Reyes, who sits on the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District and is a Board of Managers member, asked me if I would visit some schools with him.  I love visiting with students of various ages and agreed to do so.  Today, we made two visits.

Our first stop was to Perez Elementary School, where we met with 4th graders from the two classes.  Justice Reyes addressed his "4 R's": respect, reliability, reputation and remember where you came from.  We answered a ton of questions the students had about the lives of lawyers and judges and how much reading we have to do. Some of the kids were raising eyebrows when we told them the amount of reading required, but remained interested.  It was a great visit and we look forward to visiting Perez and we are looking forward to future visits.

 The next stop was to the Maria Kaupas Center. There we spoke to a high school group in its after school program. The group was a bit more challenging, with pizza waiting the end of our session, but also rewarding.  We met a number of the wonderful students who attend Catalyst High School in the building and then participate in the after school program.  We are looking forward to return visits to these two places as well as visits to other schools that Justice Reyes is planning.

An October that is Getting Away

It has been an incredibly busy October, as The Chicago Bar Association, like many bars, gets in to full stride.  Hard to believe I have been remiss in blogging and keeping the members up to date on what is happening in your wonderful bar association. In the first full week of October, we held planning sessions for a number of CBA initiatives we will be getting off the ground in the near future, including: 1) Law School Connections (more to come - programming for law school students to get them active in The CBA while in law school); 2) YLS Roundtables; and, 3) Open Mentoring. All three of these programs are designed to help law students and young lawyers with mentoring and leadership skills.

On Tuesday of that week, Ray Koenig from Clark Hill hosted a kickoff luncheon of the Leadership Institute to discuss how to implement leadership programs for our bar members. (When we speak with law firms, they tell us that the things they need for their associates are leadership opportunities and business development skills. We are working hard to follow through on those items and a number of programs mentioned are focused on these two prongs.)  Terry Murphy, Tim Tomasik, Paul Ochmanek and I met with Chief Judge Evans to cover a number of proposals and programs that involve or impact the Circuit Court of Cook County.  We had a good meeting as always with the Chief Judge.  More to come soon on those initiatives. 

On October 8, we cosponsored a program on Operation Greylord that was the brainchild of IJA President, Justice Michael Hyman. The program had an outstanding panel of lawyers who were involved in Greylord, including Tom Sullivan, Dan Reidy and Dan Webb. The panel provided insights into strategy and challenges they faced and how they conducted the investigation and prosecutions.  Retired Judge Brockton Lockwood from Downstate Illinois was recognized by the IJA. It was a great program and the crowded CLE room heard a fantastic history of a dark time in our local courts.

On October 9, we taped two shows for WYCC on CPS truancy, a major problem.   The shows will air in the near future on WYCC (channel 20) at 1230 PM each Sunday.  The fantastic panels shared their thoughts on the problem and how to address it.

On October 13-15, more than 20 attorneys and members landed in Washington, DC, for The CBA's Annual SCOTUS Swearing In Program.  I encourage each of you who has not participated to consider doing so, whether you are a trial lawyer or not. The experience is unique and it is a fantastic chance to see our highest court in action. 

On October 16, The CBA was host to bar leaders from other bar associations to introduce them to the new mandatory arbitration Supreme Court rules for the commercial calendar for cases with less than $75,000 in damages.  Judge Thomas Mulroy, who developed the rules and has worked extensively on this program, presented an overview of the new rules and how this will work.  He also let the bar leaders know that the first training session will take place on November 21.

A busy first few weeks of October and more to come.  This week is Pro Bono Week, we encourage you to partake in the various programs including the Pro Bono Fair on Thursday, October 23. This year's theme is, "Lifting Lives, Strengthening Access." We encourage you to get involved in meaningful pro bono.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The National Judicial College - SCOTUS Reception - September 29, 2014

Thanks to The Chicago Bar Association's good friend, Sandra Yamate, who is the Executive Director of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession and a board member of The National Judicial College, we were invited to the United States Supreme Court for an NJC reception.  It was great to meet so many people interested in promoting judicial education for our state and local judges. The members of The NJC I met were very excited to discuss the organization's work and mission.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.  His discussion centered around the ABA's proposal to change the legal education in some significant ways.  He compared the Harvard Law School requirements when he went there to the various electives and course offerings that the law schools around the country, including some top ranked ones, now offered. He suggested that the changes were not an advancement and offered that law students should be subjected to a rigorous and broad legal training.

It was a great evening and great chance to meet The NJC's board.

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.