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.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

LGBT and the Law in the UK and the US

Last week, we had the honor to interview D'Arcy Kemnitz and Daniel Winterfeldt for The Chicago Bar Association's Youtube channel.  The program was the first of what we hope will be many interviews and discussions this year.

D'Arcy is the Executive Director of The National LGBT Bar Association and is an expert in LGBT legal issues.   The LGBT Bar Association sponsors the Annual "Lavender Law" Conference and Career Fair, which thousands attend.  Daniel is a Partner at CMS London and Head of International Capital Markets and the Founder of the InterLaw Diversity Forum.

The interview became a reality thanks to the efforts of Sandra Yamate, Chief Executive Officer of The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession. She mentioned Daniel and D'Arcy would be in town for an inclusion program.  Daniel and D'Arcy are two of the leading experts in the area of LGBT and the legal profession.

We discussed the status and challenges of LGBT lawyers in the profession both in the US and in the UK.  We discussed ways leaders in law firms have combatted discrimination against LGBT employees.  We also discussed initiatives and programs that the LGBT Bar and InterLaw had planned. The conversation was interesting and enlightening.

The video of the conversation will be available in the near future at  Please go to that site for this interview and many others we plan to do this year.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Month of SCOTUS

It is not often that an attorney not appearing to argue before the Supreme Court of the United States has the ability to interact with one Supreme Court Justice.  I am fortunate in the next 45 days to meet two sitting justices and one retired justice and to appear before the Supreme Court on two days.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
On Monday, September 8, 2014, I am privileged to officially kick off The Chicago Bar Association bar year by welcoming Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to a luncheon at the Hilton.  CBA members are signing up for this event on an unprecedented scale, with more than 800 people signed up to attend to hear Justice Ginsburg speak.  It should prove to be an amazing experience and we are very much looking forward to this luncheon.

Justice John Paul Stevens (ret.)
Ten days laters, The Chicago Bar Association hosts the 15th Annual Justice John Paul Stevens Award Luncheon.  Justice Stevens will be the keynote speaker at this luncheon and The CBA will recognize eight remarkable attorneys in our legal community.  This too will be an exceptional event that we look forward to celebrating with the awardees and Justice Stevens.

Justice Antonin Scalia
Leadership of The CBA has been invited to attend a reception of the National Judicial College at the SCOTUS.  Justice Antonin Scalia will be the keynote speaker.  We look forward to attending this event on behalf of The CBA.

10th Annual Group Admission to the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States for The CBA
To wrap up the 45 days of SCOTUS, in October, we will travel back to Washington, DC to act as the movant for the group of CBA members who will be sworn in before the Supreme Court of the United States. If you have not done this, I would encourage you to strongly consider doing it, whether you intend to practice before SCOTUS or not.  It is an amazing experience to participate in the majesty of the SCOTUS and experience it.

For a SCOTUS geek like me, this series of interactions with the Supreme Court is too good to be true.  I am very honored to be able to represent you, the members, on behalf of The Chicago Bar Association.

The Justice John Paul Stevens Award Luncheon - September 18, 2014

On Friday, August 22, The Chicago Bar Association's Justice John Paul Stevens Awards Lunch Committee met to select recipients of this prestigious award.  The criteria for selection is concise in words, but long on what a recipient must demonstrate:  "Celebrating Illinois attorneys who have demonstrated extraordinary integrity and service to the community throughout their careers."  The Committee had more than 20 nominees to consider and all high caliber attorneys who have done much.

The first order of business for the Committee was to consider a motion by one of its members to give more than 3 or 4 awards this year, to honor both Justice John Paul Stevens and The CBA.  After unanimous approval of the motion, discussions ensued about each of the nominee's qualifications.  After much discussion, the Committee agreed to recognize 8 nominees for their exceptional service to the community, exceptional legal career and extraordinary integrity.  The eight esteemed recipients selected by the Committee are:

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
I am very much looking forward to celebrating these eight recipient's inspirational leadership and excellence, and to seeing this years keynote speaker, Justice John Paul Stevens (ret.).  We hope you will join us for what will be an inspiring luncheon.

Metropolitan Bar Caucus meets in Boston in Connection with the ABA Annual Meeting

Many people may not be familiar with the Metropolitan Bar Caucus ("MBC"), a subgroup of the National Council of Bar Presidents.  Founded in 1979 by a number of large metropolitan bar associations, including The Chicago Bar Association, it was formed to address the unique concerns that larger metropolitan bar associations face.

The MBC develops programming that takes place at the midyear and annual meetings of the ABA.  This year, the MBC met in Boston at the front end of the ABA annual meeting.  I became an at large board member of MBC in late 2013.  The MBC programming at this meeting focused on the needs of the young lawyer.

A common theme facing large metropolitan bar associations such as The Chicago Bar Association is how to attract and retain the young lawyer.  At the In Vino Veritas session on Friday,  bar leaders and executive directors discussed challenges facing the bar associations and opportunities.  As one would expect, the question of how to attract and retain the future generations of lawyers was front and center in the hour long discussion.

We have our main theme this year, Celebrating Young Lawyers – The Future of the Profession, the organized bar and the community.  We will have open mentoring, leadership circles, shadow days for law students, and other events to both celebrate the future of our profession, but also to discuss the challenges young lawyers and future lawyers face and hopefully find some solutions.

As always, if you have ideas or programs you would like to see, please contact me at @cbaprez201415 on Twitter, or at  It is your bar association and we are hear to listen and serve.