About the ISBA

2003 Laureate Award Winners

Barry S. Alberts

When someone calls Barry Alberts "a lawyer's lawyer" – and a lot of people do – it is not usually a reference to the fact that he represents lawyers in liability cases. Instead, it is because he is a master of his profession in every respect, and sets an example for other lawyers to emulate.

Barry Alberts is the kind of trial lawyer who is admired not only by his clients and colleagues and judges, but also by his adversaries. His goal at trial is to win the case, not to defeat an opponent, and in the process he earns virtually universal admiration. He combines exceptional talent with absolute dedication to the dignity and integrity of the process.

His skills in civil litigation have been widely recognized. He also is an expert on legal ethics, currently co-chairing the Ethics and Professionalism Committee of the ABA's Section of Litigation. He has natural talents as a teacher - he lectures on the ethics of lawyering at the University of Chicago Law School, and he has served as adjunct professor of law at Northwestern University Law School. He has written extensively and lectured around the nation.

Perhaps less well known – and that's because he doesn't seek the limelight – is his career-long commitment to pro bono. Through his personal example, he has inspired many new lawyers to devote some of their talents to representing clients who otherwise might go unrepresented.

Pro bono death penalty representation calls for an enormous investment of attorney hours and resources over a period of years. Yet, when Barry Alberts attended a meeting in 1999 at which the ABA Death Penalty Project made a plea for volunteers, he signed-up on the spot to represent an Alabama death row inmate who, because of the federal statute of limitations, otherwise might have lost the opportunity for post-conviction review of his case. And instead of asking for a case with issues that might interest him, he asked "Who is most in need of counsel." That is the mark of a lawyer with a profound concern about due process.

There is no higher praise for a lawyer than the words of a colleague who said of Barry Alberts – "he has always been the lawyer every lawyer wants to be."

James Thomas Demos

For many plaintiffs' personal injury lawyers, James Demos represented the best of what a lawyer should be. He was not only an outstanding lawyer who rose to leadership positions in the legal profession, he was also dedicated to the cause of his clients and the pursuit of justice on their behalf.

He served as president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, and won election to the Board of Governors of the Illinois State Bar Association, where he served with distinction. As a leader of the bar, he contributed tremendous insight into the issues facing the profession.

He approached the practice of law with a meticulous work habit that neared perfection. He served as a guiding light for younger lawyers, always ready to share his expertise and his vision of the high ethical standards that were a hallmark of his career.

Because of his exemplary career and his leadership in the profession, he earned the affection and deep respect of his colleagues and his many clients.

Joseph N. DuCanto

Here's a tip for matrimonial lawyers – if you don't have a copy of Joe DuCanto's famous tax chart, get one. Soon!

The best matrimonial lawyers in the country know that there are tax advantages available for their clients with a properly structured marital settlement agreement. How do they know this? They learned it from Joseph DuCanto.

Joe introduced the application of tax law to matrimonial law because he recognized, back in the 1950's, the tax advantages available to his clients through a properly structured marital settlement.

He pioneered this area of law, not only for his own clients' advantage, but he unselfishly published articles and lectured on the subject. He also made courts throughout the nation aware of the tax effects of their support orders and other rulings. He is the foremost authority on the subject of family law and taxes.

Joe also stands out in the matrimonial law field in other ways. In a practice area that is often marked by acrimony, Joe sincerely attempts to reconcile the parties when that is feasible, and when it is not, he works to keep tension to a minimum. He is a master at finding ways to settle cases, and he has the class to deal with aggressive opponents with dignity.

But just because he prefers to be a "non-combatant" in the courtroom, don't get the wrong impression. Joe was an orphan who joined the Marines at age 16. He was dispatched to Iwo Jima, where he engaged in one of the most devastating battles American troops have ever fought.

The Marines became his family, in a sense. To this day, he supports the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. When Justice Michael Bilandic died, Joe and his wife established a scholarship fund in his memory so deserving children of servicemen will have a better opportunity to complete their education.

Just as he is known by matrimonial lawyers everywhere, he is also celebrated in the Marine Corps, which presented him with the Commandant's Award. He was the first non-commissioned officer to receive that award.

Theodora Gordon

If there is a "greatest generation" for women, Theodora Gordon was a charter member. She earned her J.D. degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1947, and struggled to land a job as a lawyer in a day and age when women lawyers were a novelty.

Finally, she was hired by the Harris brothers, the founders of the Toni Company, who reasoned that since they sold products almost exclusively to women, having a woman lawyer would be a good idea. For the next twenty-five years, Teddy Gordon represented the Toni Company, gaining a reputation as an expert in the field of products liability.

For the second half of her career, she entered private practice, concentrating at first in products liability, but soon settling into a general practice. She became a counselor in the old-fashioned sense – that of an advisor. She was a lawyer, first and foremost, to help people. Her friends were her clients and her clients were her friends.

But Teddy Gordon's great contribution to her profession was her mentoring of younger women entering the practice. Her living example made it easier for women to study law and practice law in the generation that followed hers. The high numbers of women attending law school today and entering the profession are due to the few women like Teddy who took chances, suffered discrimination, and sacrificed many things in order to pave the way for others.

But Teddy never complained. She had a zest for life that was infectious. She showed many young lawyers what it meant to live a full and productive life as an attorney and as a woman committed to her community.

In 1990, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of completing treatment for breast cancer, she held a social at Marshall Field's ice cream parlor. She called the event "Life is Sweet," a perfect metaphor for the example she held out to generations of women lawyers.

Dolores K. Hanna

There are very few lawyers who have chaired a national effort to review one of the fundamental functions of the federal government, and then succeeded in pushing an overhaul bill through Congress. Dolores Hanna did that in the area of trademark law.

From 1985 to 1987, she chaired the Trademark Review Commission, composed of 29 independent-minded lawyers. She skillfully guided them through a comprehensive review of federal trademark law that resulted in passage of the Trademark Law Revision Act of 1988. What that means to most Americans is that we now have a more honest and credible system for how products are brought to market. In the intellectual property bar, it was a huge development – the first overhaul of the 1946 Lanham Act.

Dolores Hanna is very well known in the trademark bar, having served as trademark counsel for Kraft, Incorporated, as well as major Chicago law firms. Early in her career, when women were rarely appointed to or selected for top positions, she served as president of the U.S. Trademark Association, the first woman ever to do so.

One of the roles she played most often was that of role model – for other trademark lawyers, men and women, and especially for other women lawyers. As a past president of the Women's Bar Association of Illinois and of the Women's Bar Foundation, Dolores Hanna has been a treasured friend and mentor to hundreds of women attorneys and law students.

Despite her incredibly busy and demanding practice, she always found time for professional and community activities, including leadership roles with the Alliance for Women Committee of the Chicago Bar Association, the Cook County Court Watchers project, the Public Interest Law Initiative, and the Committee on Character and Fitness of the Illinois Supreme Court.

She is rightfully recognized, internationally, for her excellence as a trademark counsel, and we recognize her here in Illinois for her extraordinary dedication to improving our profession.

Elmer Jenkins

Most small communities have a senior member of the bar who is respected for his or her professional skill, high principles and integrity, and commitment to the public. In the rural town of Benton in southern Illinois, that someone is Elmer Jenkins.

Some lawyers understand that clients are best served when lawyers use their hearts as well as their minds. Being around Elmer drives home the concept that lawyers are not merely interchangeable mouthpieces paid by the hour or by the job. He sees lawyers, instead, as the embodiment of their clients' concerns, the human vessel on which they rely to seek justice in a complex system fraught with procedures and pitfalls.

After more than half a century at the bar, Elmer Jenkins still can be found in his office every day. More likely than not, he will be pouring over cases in preparation for assisting needy citizens with their legal problems. He maintains an active practice, devoting nearly all of his time and skill to pro bono work. Few lawyers can be found whose practice is more focused on the simple desire to help people in need, irrespective of their ability to pay.

For more than fifty years, Elmer Jenkins has practiced law in Benton, and he has earned the respect of both his colleagues in the bar and the community at large.

As a result of his actions and integrity, his community is a better place to live.

Harold I. Levine

Mentors are usually thought of as older, experienced lawyers helping guide new lawyers. Harold Levine has been a mentor in one way or another to all members of the Illinois Bar, and beyond.

By his example, he has taught lawyers substantive law, ethical law, and how to be an advocate with civility, both in the courtroom and in transactional matters. He has taught from the podium, in the courtroom, and in face-to-face relationships with those he proudly calls friend.

He is a charter member of the "panel program" at Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation, which started in 1983. The panel program enlists practitioners who will limit their pro bono commitment to specific practice areas, Harold's being foreclosure law. As one of the best foreclosure plaintiff's lawyers anywhere, he offered his knowledge to help foreclosure defendants.

He has spent countless hours at CVLS, many of them in the courtroom on behalf of clients. But he doesn't walk away when the case is over. His pro bono clients also get Harold's help in finding better financing for their homes. CVLS staff attorneys and other volunteers receive instruction from Harold's vast store of legal knowledge. CVLS has recruited scores of bright young attorneys as volunteers because they want to work under Harold's direction.

Harold Levine has devoted virtually his entire career to being of service to the legal profession and the public. He has done so selflessly and without the need for adulation. One of his nominators said, "I sometimes believe that Harold is embarrassed by the various awards and recognitions which have come his way, but I would be proud to embarrass him one more time as a fitting acknowledgement of his importance to our profession."

Prentice H. Marshall

As a lawyer, as a law professor, and as a federal judge, Prentice Marshall never backed away from doing his duty as he saw it, no matter the potential consequences. And by virtue of his brilliance, humor, hard work, integrity, and compassion, he forged a legal career full of unparalleled accomplishments.

Early in his law practice at the Chicago firm that became Jenner and Block, Marshall was drawn to criminal defense work on behalf of indigent defendants. In 1956, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that indigent defendants had a right of appeal and that the state must pay for the trial transcript, Marshall headed an effort to recruit lawyers from all parts of Illinois to accept appointments to handle the flood of appeals as transcripts became available. Cases handled by Marshall personally resulted in successful appeals and kept one defendant from the electric chair.

Pren Marshall was a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law from 1967 to 1973. A part of his legacy there was the revamping of the trial advocacy program, and as one of the founders of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. Even today – long after his formal teaching days ended – he is held out as the standard of integrity and excellence by which law professors and trials lawyers are judged.

In 1973, he was appointed a U.S. District Judge, serving with distinction for 23 years before retiring. As a judge, he presided over cases involving some of the most contentious issues confronting society. And although feelings often ran high on both sides, Pren Marshall remained the epitome of what a judge ought to be: he was eminently fair, compassionate, firm, courteous and kind.

In short, he was the embodiment of all that we hope for from our system of justice.

Madalyn Maxwell

As an attorney for the state of Illinois for 47 years, Madalyn Maxwell had a direct and positive impact on tens of thousands of lives. But because she rarely represented clients one-on-one, very few people know that she is the person to thank. That will change soon.

She served as Chief of the Public Aid Claims Bureau of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General until her retirement in 2001. She can take credit for the Bureau establishing parentage for tens of thousands of children born out of wedlock, and for obtaining and enforcing child support orders for hundreds of thousands of children.

Since the federal law creating a child support enforcement requirement was enacted in the early 1970's, Madalyn Maxwell has been a leader in Illinois in shaping a model for enforcement. She is recognized nationally and internationally for her expertise in this area.

Because of her preeminent role for so many years, the Attorney General's Office has announced that it will dedicate the Public Aid Bureau's new office building in her honor.

Madalyn Maxwell comes from a family of lawyers in Washington County, Illinois. On the same day in 1951 when she was admitted to the bar, her father, Ralph Maxwell, became a Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. An uncle, Byron O. House, also served on the high court.

Through her outstanding record of service to the people of Illinois, Madalyn has earned a special place in the legal history of our state.

Nat Ozmon

Nat Ozmon's legendary success as a civil litigator can be measured by something much more substantial than the dollar amount of verdicts he's won. Consider the number of leading appellate cases that Nat has handled over the years that have molded many aspects of Illinois law.

Concepts that now seem elementary in Structural Work Act litigation were forged by Nat. Likewise, he had cases that exerted great influence on product liability law, and every Illinois citizen owes him a debt for making blood transfusions much safer. He has had leading cases on evidence, and he clarified the standard of res ipsa loquitor.

The seminal case in Illinois in the now-expanding field of construction negligence was tried by Nat almost thirty years ago, and it still is being cited as persuasive authority.

Beyond his impact on the development of tort law in Illinois, Nat Ozmon stands out because of the unequalled grace with which he conducts himself, in and out of the courtroom. His word is truly his bond, and he imparts his strong values to young lawyers in his firm and as a teacher at Loyola Law School and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, where he was one of the first teachers.

Nat has practiced almost fifty years in a high energy, high visibility area of the law with his integrity intact, his knowledge and skills respected and honored, and his person surrounded with good will and affection from those who have known and worked with him. Who among us could hope for more?

William R. Quinlan

You won't find anyone who cares more deeply about the courts and the judicial process than William R. Quinlan.

For much of his professional life, Bill heeded the call to public service – as corporation counsel for three Chicago mayors, and during the 1980's as a circuit judge and appellate court justice.

When he left a stellar judicial career to return to the private sector, he took with him an abiding concern for the integrity of our court system. Here are just some of the things he has accomplished since leaving the bench:

In the early 1990's, he helped create and administer a network of attorney volunteers, specially trained to represent indigent defendants, in response to a federal lawsuit against the First District Appellate Court. In large part due to his personal effort, the appeals were handled competently, the backlog was erased, and the Illinois court system was saved from the embarrassment of having its docket directed by our federal courts.

In response to judicial election campaigning that seemed to be stretching the limits of acceptable behavior, Bill formed a Task Force on Judicial Elections. The task force worked with bar leaders to develop a pledge to abide by certain conduct rules, which all candidates in Cook County are now asked to sign by the bar associations evaluating them.

At the request of the Illinois State Bar Association, Bill accepted the title Judicial Liaison, serving as public spokesman on issues affecting the justice system including unpopular outcomes.

Throughout his illustrious public and private sector careers, Bill has compiled a record of accomplishments that set him apart as one of the premiere practitioners in our state.

Anthony Raccuglia

The nomination of Anthony Raccuglia to be a Laureate was accompanied by letters of support from an impressive group – his mayor, a police chief, a former Supreme Court chief justice, among others. But the most convincing letter of support, given Tony's personal injury practice, came from a physician and surgeon. The good doctor said he has little knowledge of the law, "except to stay out of courtrooms" – but if he ever requires legal advice, his only call would be to Tony.

In the LaSalle-Peru-Ottawa area of north-central Illinois, Tony has built a successful trial practice based on his hard work, courteous manner, and fair and attentive treatment of his clients. There's no one better to see if you've been injured.

He gives realistic, honest advice to his clients, and has been known to withdraw from matters in which the client would not be well served by continuing or other problems might be created for the legal system. His practice is marked by unquestioned skill and integrity, and many other lawyers, young and old, have learned from him over the years.

In addition to his busy practice, Tony is a dependable contributor to the betterment of his community. As a young lawyer, he became involved through his local Elks Lodge in the operation of an open clinic for children with orthopedic defects, and caused local orthopedic surgeons to become involved in the treatment of children at the expense of the Lodge. Thousands of children went through the clinic over the years.

To fill another need, he became involved in distributing toys and food to needy children and families in his area on an anonymous basis. He enlisted volunteers to help with the deliveries, and continued the program for several years until the local United Fund took responsibility for the project.

Tony never boasts about his community service or the financial contributions he makes to untold charities. But his generosity is well known.

To quote the police chief of Tony's hometown, "He is a positive influence in our community and brings honor to his profession."