On March 30, 2007, the Marshall Gallery of the Northern Illinois University College of Law in De Kalb, Illinois, played host to over 100 women judges, attorneys, law students and guests. For several years now, each spring the Standing Committee on Women and the Law has hosted an outreach reception in various locals around the state. This social event provides women in the legal profession opportunities to meet and network with each other. This year’s event was co-hosted with the ISBA’s Women and Minority Participation Committee.
The reception was affectionately referred to as the “Women of the West” event and attempted to honor female legal practitioners who live and practice in the western counties of: De Kalb, Kane, Kendall, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Will, Lee, Ogle and LaSalle. In attendance were many female NIU law students. The Committee is confident that the evening will lead to mentoring relationships between those young women law students and the local attorneys in attendance.
ISBA President Irene Bahr briefly addressed the gathering, stressing the importance of involvement, not only in the Illinois State Bar Association, but also in one’s local bar group. David Sosin, President of the Illinois Bar Foundation, also addressed the gathering on the issues of bar service and giving back to the profession. Among the many guests gathered were: Kane County Judge Patricia Piper Golden and her husband, former ISBA President Loren Golden; ISBA Board of Governors Secretary Michele Jochner; James Davidson and Richard Schmack, President and Vice President of the De Kalb County Bar Association; Victoria Chuffo, the recently appointed first female Public Defender for Kendall Country; and, representatives from the Kane and Will Country Bar Associations.
ISBA members: Howard Feldman, Mark Hassakis, John Locallo, and J. Brick Van der Snick co-sponsored the event with monetary contributions. Katie Johnson, attorney with the National Bank and Trust of Sycamore, raffled ten boxes of locally handcrafted chocolates donated by the Bank. Red, the color of power, was prevalent. Red votive candles flickered on the tables. Claire Manning, the Women and the Law Committee Chair, was presented with a red crystal cowgirl hat, representing the “women of the west” as a keepsake of the event.
All the members of the Committee join in gratefully acknowledging the hard work and contribution of Greg Anderson and Melody Mitchell of the NIU College of Law, who coordinated this event. Next year the Women and the Law Committee hopes to continue its outreach to other women in the law in other parts of the state.