Law Day breakfast with Justice Garman

There was no better opportunity for a group of women lawyers to celebrate law day than to spend it having a breakfast with Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman in her hometown of Danville. Sponsored by Women and the Law, the event was attended by members of the Standing Committee, and by area women lawyers. The event was hosted by Stephanie Spiros, in the Danville home she shares with husband James Spiros and their twin boys.

Justice Garman has been a friend of ISBA's Standing Committee on Women and the Law for some time, and has appeared at many of the networking events that we have sponsored in the various appellate court districts throughout Illinois. As well, Justice Garman is a stalwart supporter of women in the practice of law and, whether she knows it or not, has been a valuable mentor for women lawyers, myself included, throughout her career in law and on the bench. That career includes several years as an Assistant State's Attorney, and in private practice, in Vermilion County. She was an Associate Circuit Judge for 12 years and a Circuit Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit for nine years. Most of those nine years Justice Garman served as the Presiding Circuit Judge. She was assigned to the Fourth District Appellate Court in 1995 and elected to that position in 1996. She was appointed to the Supreme Court on February 1, 2001, and was subsequently elected.

Born in Aurora, Justice Garman was the 1961 Valedictorian of Oswego High School. In 1965, she received a B.S. in economics, with the highest honors, from the University of Illinois. In 1968 she was graduated, with distinction, from the University of Iowa School of Law. Since those days, she has made her home in Vermillion County, which she is "happy to call home."

In her gracious but direct style, Justice Garman regaled those of us at the breakfast with stories of attending law school in the 60s, and being a young lawyer in the 70s. She explained how, at that time, women lawyers were not taken as seriously as male lawyers. She told us of being asked questions no one would dare ask us today. Though we've made many strides in bringing women into the practice of law, Justice Garman sagely advised that we "continue to persevere." Every day is a challenge, especially for those of us who balance our careers with motherhood and volunteer work. Obviously, those challenges have strengthened and enhanced Justice Garman. Like her, we should proudly carry a sense of professionalism as a lawyer-and responsibility as a woman.

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June 2004Volume 9Number 4PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)