One of our own to become Bar president
Irene Bahr, one of the founders of ISBA's Special Committee on Women and the Law, and a tenacious advocate of women's issues within the legal community, is to become President of ISBA in 2006. She will be the third female president in ISBA's entire history, having been preceded by Cheryl Niro (1999-2000) and Judge Carole K. Bellows (1977-78). Irene, who lives and practices law in DuPage County, will be the first female ISBA president to be elected to the position from outside of Cook County. In addition to being ISBA's first Chair of the Special Committee on Women and the Law, Irene is a past president of the DuPage Association of Women Lawyers. She has been very active in DuPage County and was particularly instrumental in establishing the Child Friendly Courts Foundation that operates the "Safe Harbor" children's room in the DuPage County courthouse. She has received the YMCA Woman of the Year award in the Business category, and has served on the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women.
Irene's involvement in ISBA is also long-standing. After many years of service as a DuPage County representative on the Assembly, she was elected to the Board of Governor's in 1997. On the Board, she served as Secretary and Treasurer. She also served as Board liaison to various ISBA committees, including the Special Committee on Women and the Law and the Administrative Law Section Council, both of which she had previously served as Chair. She is also an active member of the Illinois Bar Foundation.
Irene's interest in women's legal issues dates back to her time at DePaul Law School where she was very active in the women's law caucus. After her graduation from DePaul in 1977, Irene worked for 10 years as an attorney for the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. Upon leaving the Commission, she set up her own solo practice where she specializes in representing liquor retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and others who interface with the state and local liquor control commissions. Her work also involves litigation of contract disputes, defense of retailers who are accused of violating liquor laws, and negotiations with suppliers. She also has had several cases go to appellate court, where she has argued commercial free speech, due process and equal protection issues.
While many of us are fully aware of the value of Irene's input and participation in the ISBA over the course of many years, few of us are aware of the personal background that helped forge her legal career and service mentality. Raised in a family of t10 on Chicago's southeast side Irondale neighborhood, Irene lived in a Chicago Housing Authority townhouse until she was graduated from high school (St. Peter and Paul) and went off to college. Her father (a Chicago firefighter) and her mother (an Irish immigrant who worked as a school crossing guard) instilled in her the idea that she needed to work for what she wanted and that she needed to value her education. Heeding that advice, Irene worked her way through college, graduate school and law school. She attended the University of Illinois Circle Campus (now, UIC) and majored in secondary education and sociology. She attended graduate school in sociology and, after one and one-half years in graduate school, decided that she wanted to become a lawyer. She attended DePaul and was graduated in 1977.
Irene now lives in DuPage County with her husband, Circuit Judge Robert Anderson, and their three children. Please join our Special Committee on Women in the Law in congratulating Irene Bahr on her well-deserved election and ascendancy to the presidency of the Illinois State Bar Association. We know that she will be a relentless advocate of the practice of law in this State‚--for the benefit of all Illinois lawyers and those we serve.