2011 Laureate Award Winners

Peter J. BirnbaumPeter J. Birnbaum, Chicago

Peter J. Birnbaum, President and CEO of Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, Inc. (ATG) with offices in Champaign and Chicago, is a highly-regarded attorney who has led the battle to ensure that consumers are protected by legal counsel when purchasing or selling a home. A graduate of Chicago Kent College of Law, he has spent his entire professional career at ATG. During the recent recession, when so many homeowners faced foreclosure, Mr. Birnbaum used the resources of his company to create the largest foreclosure prevention events ever held in Illinois. A past president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, he is the long-time mentor of an economically-disadvantaged boy from Chicago’s West side. For years, he has supported The Jesse White Tumblers and is currently on their board, leading a fundraising effort to establish a free-standing training center. Henry L. Shulruff, of ATG, said in his nomination: “There is, in some men, an innate quality that drives them to help those around them in any way they can. Peter is that sort of man. He exemplifies the values, standards and ideals of the best of the legal profession.

Gino L. DiVitoGino L. DiVito, Chicago

Throughout his 50-year career, Gino L. DiVito has worked tirelessly to improve the quality and efficiency of our legal system. Currently a partner in the Chicago law firm of Tabet DiVito & Rothstein, he is also a respected mediator and arbitrator. Prior to starting his private law practice, he served for decades in government as a Cook County State’s Attorney, a Circuit Court judge and a justice of the Illinois Appellate Court. Much of his professional volunteer time has been focused on criminal law; he is co-chair of the Criminal Law Edit, Alignment and Reform Commission to review the Unified Code of Corrections. He has also held numerous leadership positions including having served as president of the Illinois Judges Association. For more than 30 years, Mr. DiVito has devoted countless hours to teaching students at his alma mater, Loyola University School of Law. In his nomination, his law partner Jeffrey Patton wrote that “Gino lives and breathes the law” and that he has worked “passionately and tirelessly to improve the quality and efficiency of our legal system.

William V. JohnsonWilliam V. Johnson, Chicago

An acclaimed litigator, William V. Johnson has successfully tried many high-profile catastrophic personal injury cases and mass torts throughout the country. As a co-founder and president of Johnson & Bell, Ltd., a 120-lawyer firm, he has also defended many commercial liability, professional liability and trade secrets cases. He is past president of the Society of Trial Lawyers, a past board member of the Trial Lawyers Club of Chicago, and has been an active member in nearly a dozen other professional organizations. A graduate of Chicago Kent College of Law, he has been listed since 1989 in “The Best Lawyers in America” and since 1987 in “Who’s Who in American Law.” In his nomination, Leonard Amari wrote: “Not only is Bill Johnson of the caliber of previous Laureate recipients, he is also a leader in our community, truly revered among his peers, a role model and a credit to the profession and his community.

Rosalyn B. KaplanRosalyn B. Kaplan, Chicago (posthumous)

Rosalyn B. Kaplan, a former Chief of the Civil Appeals and Ancillary Litigation Division of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission from 1995-2010, is being recognized for her written and oratory skills as well as her mentoring talents. She tried many of the disciplinary cases herself and advocated for precedent that guides regulatory efforts. A graduate of The John Marshall Law School, Ms. Kaplan joined the ARDC after a distinguished career in the Office of the Attorney General and as our state’s Solicitor General. While her intellectual rigor could be daunting to those with whom she worked, she took care to cultivate the best in other government lawyers. In addition to her leadership skills as a government lawyer, she was a leader in the organized bar, notably the ISBA as well as the Appellate Lawyers Association where she served as president. In his nomination, ARDC’s Jerome Larkin wrote: “She was an extraordinarily gifted lawyer…who established and maintained the highest principles of the profession. Roz passed away early this year following a heroic struggle with cancer.” He continued that Roz stood out as a “beacon to others who seek to uphold the highest standards in the practice of law.

John B. KincaidJohn B. Kincaid, Wheaton

A partner in Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, John B. Kincaid is being recognized as a “pillar of the profession,” according to Illinois Appellate Court Justice Ann B. Jorgensen who nominated him. One of the most respected attorneys in DuPage County, he concentrates his practice in commercial, personal injury and probate litigation. Mr. Kincaid, who received his law degree from Chicago Kent College of Law, is a past president of the Illinois Bar Foundation, and served on its board for more than a decade. In 2000, the Foundation honored his work by bestowing upon him its Distinguished Service to Law and Society Award. A long-time member of the DuPage County Bar Association, he is a past president, previously served as its General Counsel and is the current chair of its Committee on Professionalism. The Illinois Supreme Court recognized John Kincaid’s character and integrity when they appointed him to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court Character and Fitness Committee, and the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Professionalism. In summarizing her nomination, Justice Jorgensen referred to John Kincaid as a “lawyer’s lawyer” and “the epitome of what a lawyer should be.

Leo H. KonzenLeo H. Konzen, Granite City

Leo H. Konzen, a partner in the Granite City law firm of Lueders, Robertson & Konzen, has practiced law for almost 60 years. He is being recognized as the epitome of a lawyer, citizen and family man. A special assistant attorney general for many years, he also served as the City Attorney in Granite City. A long-time board member of the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, he had a reputation for a thorough grasp of ethics issues that arose. At the same time, he was a Panel Chair for the Hearing Board of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. He was also an officer of the Tri-Cities and Madison County Bar Associations. Konzen, who received his J.D. from St. Louis University School of Law, has served on the boards of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and St. Elizabeth’s Health Foundation. Ted Eilerman, who nominated him, wrote that “Leo was ‘off the charts’ in his professional work and as a volunteer of his time and services.

David B. SosinDavid B. Sosin, Orland Park

A lawyer for 38 years, David B. Sosin is a partner in Sosin Arnold & Leibforth, Ltd., a firm that concentrates in estate planning, zoning, land use and corporate transactional law. A graduate of Northwestern University School of Law, he is being recognized for his principled standards and fervor in advancing the legal profession. An eager student of the law, as well as a teacher of it, he has lectured extensively, most notably for the Illinois Supreme Court where he was a facilitator and speaker for seminars aimed at improving the quality of the profession. For ten years, he served on the board of the Illinois Bar Foundation where he worked to increase the Foundation’s assets as chair of its annual gala. He was selected and served for two years as its president. He is also a board member of ISBA Mutual Insurance Company. In his nomination, attorney George Schoenbeck wrote that Mr. Sosin “has always demonstrated the highest character and principles in his practice” and that he “truly epitomizes the qualities required of nominees for this honor.