Member Groups

The Public Servant
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Government Lawyers

August 2003, vol. 5, no. 1

From the chair

Welcome to the first installment of the fifth volume of the newsletter of the Standing Committee on Government Lawyers (CGL) edited again this year by Kate Kelly and Lynn Patton.

I am devoting my first column to a discussion of our agenda and goals for the coming year, but first, on behalf of those who served with him last year and since the creation of the CGL, I want to express our appreciation to Charles Gunnarson for his excellent service as chair this past year and for his service on the committee in several capacities over the last four years. We look forward to continuing to work with him on the many issues that confront the committee and the ongoing projects which he initiated or carried on as chair. I have no doubt that the CGL will continue to benefit from his wisdom, experience, and dedication to the mission of the committee in the years ahead.

Our first responsibility this year is to integrate the goals of ISBA President Terry Lavin into the work of the committee. President Lavin has emphasized his desire that each ISBA committee and section council work on mentorship and membership. While President Lavin will elaborate himself, suffice it to say at this point that mentorship is every experienced attorney's obligation.

With respect to membership, President Lavin has requested that each ISBA member recruit at least one new member to the ISBA. It has always been difficult to recruit government lawyers into bar associations and was one of the reasons for the creation of the CGL. Membership has always been at the top of the CGL's agenda. Our task is to demonstrate to government lawyers that there are advantages to membership in the ISBA. That effort will be led this year by two very able lawyers, Donna Del Principe and Paul Logli. They have already begun exchanging ideas, and I expect that they will share the results in an upcoming issue of the newsletter. We will also build upon the ideas of last year's Membership chair, Pat Hughes.

The advent of mandatory continuing legal education provides one good reason to join the ISBA. We should be thinking now about how to serve government lawyers in terms of presenting educational seminars, hosting luncheon speakers, and creating other opportunities to pick up CLE credits. The ISBA will continue to be at the forefront of this endeavor, and the earlier that we prepare for this opportunity, the greater will be the rewards. One such example is the ethics seminar which we are co-sponsoring with the Government Bar Association (GBA) on September 12 in Springfield. The program was well received last year in Chicago. I hope that you will be able to attend and participate in this downstate presentation.

Another point of emphasis this year will be our attempt to integrate our work more fully with that of other section councils/committees and affiliated bar associations. Lynn Patton, who this year is chair of the ISBA's Committee on Bar Services & Activities, has asked us to work with that committee on an ad hoc basis to review the dues issue and identify other issues of concern to both committees. I also hope that we will be able to join with the GBA and with other ISBA groups to work on projects that would be of benefit and of interest to our constituents.

In addition, I would like to pursue the recognition of senior government attorneys for their years of dedicated service. Last year's CGL agreed upon the qualifications for recognition and some steps to implement the project. While we await the approval of the Board of Governors, each of us can compile a list our acquaintances who qualify for this recognition (20 years of government service and five years of ISBA or affiliated bar association membership). I intend to move rapidly if/when this approval is given.

In that same vein, last year the CGL successfully nominated Madalyn Maxwell, a highly respected and skilled former Assistant Illinois Attorney General, as a Laureate in the Academy of Illinois Lawyers . This is the highest honor that the ISBA can bestow upon its members. Last year we were able to muster the time and resources to nominate two attorneys. We would like to do so again this year. Anyone who has a worthy candidate in mind should contact me or the co-chairs of the Program and Services Subcommittee, Rosalyn Kaplan and Nancy Easum, by mid-September.

Another important goal this year is to pursue implementation, at least within state government, of the ISBA Resolution in support of bar association activities by government lawyers. The ISBA's Board of Governors passed this resolution in October 2001. It "encourages governmental entities at all levels to permit government lawyers to serve in leadership capacities within professional associations and societies...(and) to adopt standards that would authorize government lawyers to: (1) Make reasonable use of government law office and library resources and facilities ....(2) Utilize reasonable amounts official time for participation in such activities. (3) Encourage governmental entities to provide funding for the payment of lawyer licensing fees." We are hoping to discuss this subject with the new administrations of the executive branch.

Finally, it is my legal career ambition to obtain some kind of recognition from the Supreme Court of the ethical dilemmas and responsibilities of government lawyers, especially those who are employed by local, state and federal agencies. I raised this subject at last year's ISBA Annual Meeting, but have not had time to follow up with a specific proposal. It is my intention to elaborate on this issue in future editions of the newsletter during the course of this year.

It is my firm belief that the quality of one's ISBA experience depends upon how much one puts into it. Since its creation, I have been impressed by the quality, diversity, and experience of those who have led and been appointed to serve as members of the CGL, and this year's group is no exception. I expect, with the commitment and active participation of the committee and those among you who wish to join us in this endeavor, that we will have another productive year.

I hope that you will consider joining us in our efforts to improve the quality of the legal and work experience of government lawyers at all levels of government and in every corner of this state.

I look forward to serving with you, as well as to serving your needs. Please do not hesitate to call upon me during the course of the year if there is something that you wish to discuss or if I may be of service.