The newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law
Voice of a Co-Editor
This edition of The Challenge is the last edition where I will be serving as Co-Editor. In this capacity, this edition will focus on two areas, one an article regarding the possible implications for hiring in public employment of the twin University of Michigan cases issued by the Supreme Court regarding the issue of diversity as a factor in admissions. This is an article which was written by me with the assistance of Laura Anderson, a recent Northern Illinois College of Law graduate. This is the second article referencing these important cases that has appeared in The Challenge. The first was an article written soon after the decisions indicating the personal and professional perspectives on this case by me and my then-associate, Attorney Joy Roberts. The current article is being republished from the Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Reporter, September, 2005 edition. The second focus will be on our charismatic and multi-talented former Co-Editor, Susan Brazas, who recently resigned from this position after serving in this capacity for over two years.
Focus on Susan Brazas, Co-Editor
Susan Brazas began her service as The Challenge Co-Editor in 2003, after serving the previous year on the Committee on Minority and Women Participation of the ISBA. In this key position, Susan took the initiative to find news stories and articles of interest to our readership. She interviewed family law attorneys for their insight on important new case law. She gathered articles to promote significant upcoming service events such as Women Everywhere Service Day and ISBA workshops. Additionally she wrote and sought out biographical articles about notable attorneys and judges.
Susan brought wonderful writing and editing skills to this position. Susan has been practicing law in Rockford since 1990, after graduating from the University of Illinois College of Law. During law school she was fortunate to work as a Research Assistant to the renowned criminal law scholar, Professor Wayne LaFave, and to also serve as a Technical Editor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Susan also previously served as the Editor of The Lawyer, the monthly magazine of the Winnebago County Bar Association. In her term as Editor, she initiated a month column, “From the Editor,” and a monthly feature, “New Member Profiles,” and also brought a broader coverage of jury verdicts from nearby counties, in the “Out of County Civil Jury Reporter.”
Susan served as a law clerk to Judge Stanley Roszkowski and Magistrate Judge P. Michael Mahoney, of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Western Division, in Rockford.
As a practicing attorney, Susan worked in the area of the defense of personal injury and medical malpractice for 10 years; and for the past 4 years, she has worked on the Plaintiff’s side of such cases, at the firm of Barrett & Gilbert in Rockford. One of her most significant assignments was in October 2001, when she assisted the firm in representing at trial six former hostages of the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, before the U.S. District Court in Washington, D. C.
In addition to her busy practice, Susan has involved herself significantly in the work of the ISBA. Her service includes Past Chair of the ISBA Committee on Women & the Law; and currently on the ISBA Assembly, the ISBA Agenda & Program Committee, the ISBA Civil Practice & Procedure Section Council, the 2006 Allerton Conference Planning Committee, and appearances on two ISBA Cable TV shows. Additionally, this year Susan was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to serve on the Supreme Court’s Character & Fitness Committee for the Second Judicial District. That Committee conducts interviews and presides over hearings for applicants to the Illinois Bar on issues of character and fitness to practice law.
Susan’s talents and interests are wonderfully varied. Susan is an avid bicyclist. She combined her biking and writing talents in an article “It’s About the People,” focusing on her 10-day bicycle tour in Burgundy, France published in an earlier edition of The Challenge. She also combined her interests in family heritage, travel, and writing in her article, “Finding My Way Home,” about her two-week visit to Lithuania in 2003, which was published in the Lithuanian Heritage Magazine.
A special interest of Susan’s and one perhaps tied closely to her success as a lawyer is her interest in theatre. She has appeared onstage in “A Christmas Carol” at Rockford’s professional theatre, New American Theater. She has also appeared in several community theatre productions, including a current role in “Jake’s Women” by Neil Simon. She has had several solo performances in the annual Prairie State Legal Services benefit, “Legal Follies.” In 2004, she played the defense attorney for Dr. Victor Frankenstein, where she squared off against former prosecutor and appellate court justice Dan Doyle to a standing room only crowd at a non-scripted production of “The Trial of Dr. Frankenstein” in Rockford.
And one of the characteristics that I have found remarkable in Susan is her complete focus on whoever she is talking with, and whatever she undertakes. I’ve enjoyed participating in a professionally related conversation with Susan and other colleagues at the ISBA annual conference, and then see Susan interrupted by one of her children talking about an amazing creature they just found in Lake Geneva, and see Susan’s attention turned to the discussion of that creature as if nothing in this world topped her child’s interest and curiosity.
In this important bar association committee which focuses on the involvement of Minorities and Women in the bar association, a talented, multifaceted, and yet focused woman attorney certainly added dimension and value to this committee with her service. Thank you, Susan.