ISBA addressed important problems like law school debt, brought out the best in our profession with the Lawyers Feeding Illinois campaign, and did so much more this busy bar year.
Leading what is certainly among the preeminent voluntary state bar associations in the country has been the highlight of my professional career. As the conclusion of my ISBA presidency approaches, I want to give you, the members, my heartfelt thanks for allowing me this honor.
This year, we have addressed some of the most important issues facing our profession - the law school-related debt crisis, inadequate court funding, and the negative role of politics in judicial selection. Through our Lawyers Feeding Illinois campaign, we brought out (and presented) the best in our profession, raising more than 3,772,000 meals for the benefit of the food-insecure in our state (that's $752,113 and 11,495 pounds of food!). Along the way, we also played a leadership role nationally in the fight against greater non-lawyer involvement in the practice of law, advanced the ball on expanding limited scope representation, and, through our free online CLE program that started in January, continued the Association's emphasis on making ISBA membership as valuable as ever.
I am proud of the progress we made this year, and even prouder of those who made this happen. Many thanks to those who led in our special areas of focus, including Ann Jorgensen, Dennis Orsey, Gino DiVito, Warren Lupel, Patricia Golden, James Wexstten, and their respective committees. These individuals devoted tremendous energy, intellect, and passion for the greater good. They were supported by terrific committee reporters, including Daniel Thies (for the Impact of Law School Debt), Professor Andrew Leipold (for Fair and Impartial Courts) and ISBA General Counsel Charles Northrup (for Judicial Disqualification Standards). Their exceptional drafting ensures that the work of these groups will endure.
Lawyers Feeding Illinois would never have been as successful without the leadership of my wife, Terry Thies, and her incredibly dedicated committee (they wrote the book on how to dream big!). Many thanks to Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who was also a major help with this project.
Along with the LFI group, I also want to thank the many who served this year on ISBA standing committees, section councils, and other special committees. While their respective accomplishments are too numerous to mention, I can assure you that ISBA members benefited every step of the way.
Our officers (Paula, Rick, and Umberto), Board of Governors, Assembly, and staff (led by the incomparable Robert Craghead) also have my sincere gratitude for their respective contributions to our efforts this year. Immediate past-president John Locallo has been an excellent resource throughout (thank you, John).
I was consistently supported and encouraged this year by our former leaders. This group of past presidents continues to play an important role for our Association, via the ISBA Mutual and otherwise. Special thanks also go to Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride who, along with other members of our supreme court, clearly values a strong relationship with the bar. The Chief Justice's November IBJ article on the court-funding crisis is proving to be a very significant piece for all who care about the continued viability of our courts. Thanks also to Administrative Office of Illinois Courts Director Michael Tardy, who was also a great help on this issue.
I can never adequately express my appreciation to my family and firm for their support this year (which has been invaluable). I especially want to thank my brother David (our managing shareholder at Webber & Thies, P.C. in Urbana) for his incredible support and sacrifice - it is wonderful to have a brother who shares the same passions you do. Since his year as ISBA president in 1986-87, my father, Richard Thies, has continued to provide a stellar example of bar leadership, doing much for our profession in Illinois and throughout the country. I have been blessed to have his steady counsel by my side - all ISBA presidents should be so fortunate! It is such an honor to join him as the first parent and child to be ISBA presidents.
Terry and I are also eternally indebted to those who stepped up to help with making this the best possible year for our daughters Katie (12) and Caroline (10), especially my parents and sister-in-law, Jodie. All of our siblings and their spouses (including my sister Susie and her husband, Mike, in Hong Kong!), nieces and nephews, and other family members helped this year in ways large and small. Without such a loving and close-knit family, the year would never have gone so smoothly.
Lastly, to Terry, Katie, and Caroline, thank you for the wonderful role you played in what we did this year. As mentioned, Terry ran Lawyers Feeding Illinois with distinction. She was also a wonderful sounding board for everything else I did (all the while running the household so amazingly). Terry and I could not ask for two better daughters. Through their help with the hunger project and love and support in our other endeavors, the girls happily allowed us to make this year a family affair.
As I have said many times, the ISBA does important work. In fact, it needs to. There are numerous challenges facing our profession - but so too are the opportunities. During my watch, and with the help of many, I have tried to make the most of these opportunities (some of which are available only to a bar like ours). In the best tradition of my predecessors, I have given it my all. Again, it has been an honor.