The past several months have been busy ones for the ISBA and for the Standing Committee on Women and the Law—and, more generally, for the celebration of women in the practice of law and women in the judiciary.
On October 28th 2006 the ISBA co-sponsored a gala event with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation in honor of retired U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The event was held at the renowned new Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. The dinner was held in the middle of the museum, facing a replica of the White House as it existed during Lincoln’s term as President. On the other side of the room, a young lifelike Abraham Lincoln replica watched the evening’s presentation, leaning against a fence next to a log cabin.
Governor Jim Edgar hosted the gala evening, and Bill Kurtis served as the emcee. During the event, Justice O’Connor was presented with the first Lincoln Leadership Prize. That an important woman jurist received this special new award was an achievement that can rightfully be celebrated by all women who practice law. Justice O’Connor’s remarks focused on Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of the right to Habeas Corpus during the Civil War. O’Connor described the circumstances and reasons for this suspension, very subtly suggesting that a similar suspension would only be warranted under nearly identical and unique circumstances.
An intimate cocktail reception was held prior to the dinner in the Rotunda of the Library which gave guests an opportunity to meet one on one with Justice O’Connor. Retired Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann McMorrow, and current Supreme Court Justices Rita Garman and Anne Burke also attended the event and were given awards.
In the spirit of Lincoln, and in celebration of diversity in the practice of law, the Standing Committee on Women and the Law co-sponsored, with the Standing Committee on Minority and Women Participation, a roundtable discussion at the ISBA’s annual meeting. Over 70 people from across the state participated in the discussion. Following the discussion, Jenner & Block hosted a reception, at their offices, celebrating “Diversity Attorneys and their Contribution to the Bar” where Cheryl Niro made special remarks on behalf of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. Special acknowledgement is due to the Standing Committee’s Secretary and co-editor of The Catalyst, Lynn Grayson, of Jenner & Block, whose tireless efforts contributed greatly to the success of the roundtable and the reception that followed.