Our esteemed friend and a stalwart of the ISBA’s Committee on Government Lawyers, Rosalyn B. Kaplan, passed away recently after a battle with cancer. While this committee mourns her passing, we also remember and celebrate her life. Roz was a guiding light to this committee from its early days, an advocate for government lawyers, and a proponent of our ethical approach to the law.
Roz’s varied career was impressive. She began in public service as a high school French teacher. Changing careers, Roz graduated from the John Marshall Law School in 1981. For 14 years, Roz worked in the Civil Appeals Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, becoming chief in 1987 and the Illinois Solicitor General in 1991. Many who knew her and worked with her relate accounts of her frequent and exemplary appearances before the Illinois Supreme and Appellate Courts. They also appreciatively recall her extraordinary efforts as a mentor—leading by example and pure smarts.
Roz made the last stop of her career at the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission—where she continued to flourish and shine in her appellate work—serving as Chief of Civil Appeals and Ancillary Litigation.
Her brilliant career was only enhanced by her dedication to the profession. Roz served as President of the Appellate Lawyers Association and actively supported their interests. Her dedication to the ISBA was career-long. A continuous member of the ISBA since her bar admission in 1981, Roz served on the Administrative Law Section Council, the Special Committee on Appellate Practice, and the Membership Campaign Subcommittee. She served on the Committee on Government Lawyers from 2000-2007 and was serving on the committee again at the time of her death.
We remember Roz for her untiring commitment to our committee. Among other contributions, Roz single-handedly represented government attorneys before the ISBA Board of Governors, arguing that this committee’s CLE programs should be discounted for the government lawyer.
This committee’s Ethics for Government Lawyers Program is a popular and repeated CLE. While Roz enjoyed her colleagues’ portrayal of fictional attorneys and characters with questionable morals, she remained out of the spotlight. Rather, she worked behind the scenes authoring new vignettes and serving as our expert on the Rules of Professional Conduct. As we develop new scenarios for upcoming CLEs, her absence is acutely felt.
The Committee on Government Lawyers is a small, close-knit, collegial group. Roz was truly one of us. She spoke her mind and spoke up for others. She demanded the best of herself and her colleagues. We will always remember Roz as an exceptional lawyer, a wonderful advocate, and a dear friend. ■