Chair’s Column

This past June I found myself in a room filled with people who had a passion for the law. The attorneys I was with were motivated not by self-interest, but a desire to do what is right for the legal profession. In that room I found camaraderie, enthusiasm and solidarity of purpose. This gathering at the ISBA Annual Meeting in Lake Geneva showed me all that was right with our profession. Over the course of this inspiring weekend, I came to realize something: The ISBA is the best large law firm I never worked for!

I realized that the ISBA can be:

1. Your Professional Development Consultant. Many large firms have staff specifically dedicated to the professional development of female attorneys. Of course, solo or small firm practitioners do not generally have such a resource. To assist in this, the ISBA Women and the Law Committee will bring “big firm” expertise directly to you in the lunchtime program “Seek Power: A Woman Lawyer’s Guide to Authentic Self-Promotion.” Paula Hudson Holderman, the attorney development officer with a large law firm, will share her expertise about authentic self-promotion as a woman attorney. We will discuss self-promotion in the broadest sense. This includes promoting oneself to get business and referrals, but also promoting oneself for purposes of awards, appointments, and to receive work-related benefits such as flex-time. The program will be held at the Chicago Regional ISBA Office on October 20, 2009 from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. No MCLE credit. Please watch for details about registration.

2. Your Marketing Department. In a large law firm, a marketing department or public relations firm will ensure that their attorneys are recognized for their accomplishments. Similarly, the ISBA offers many awards, and the Women and the Law Committee has been committed to seeking out strong nominees. The list of ISBA awards can be found at <>. As women, we often feel more comfortable promoting each other rather than ourselves. So, if you know of an impressive woman attorney, review the list and ask yourself if she is deserving of any of the awards. If you would like our Committee to consider nominating the person, please do not hesitate to e-mail me at <>. Bring deserving women to our attention and we will help!

3. Your CLE provider. Just as many large law firms have their internal CLE programming, so does the ISBA. The ISBA has been at the forefront of CLE, providing programs in virtually every practice area. The Women and the Law Committee is currently developing a day-long CLE about Women in the Criminal Justice System, a follow-up to our previous successful program on Girls in the Criminal Justice System. We are planning a multi-disciplinary program which discusses the issue from all perspectives.

4. Your Diversity Committee. At a large firm, diversity-related issues have received much attention. Similarly, ISBA President John O’Brien has ensured the optimum coordination of ISBA diversity-related efforts. The diversity-related committees and section councils are now organized under the umbrella of the Diversity Leadership Council, chaired by Alice Noble-Allgire, a professor who has been at the forefront of diversity awareness. The ISBA has recognized that diversity matters, and needs strong advocates. The work of all the ISBA diversity-related section councils and committees, including our Women and the Law Committee, will be aided by the coordination of efforts under the Diversity Leadership Council.

5. Your Community Outreach Coordinator. At a large firm, there are often concerted efforts to provide pro bono service to the needy in our communities. In the same vein, our diversity-related committees and section councils have planned the program“The Lincoln Legacy: The Lawyer’s Role in Protecting Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” It will be held on Thursday afternoon, December 10, 2009, and will conclude with a “marketplace” of legal volunteer opportunities. After hearing the inspirational panel of attorneys who have made powerful contributions to the public good, the marketplace will allow each of us to individually explore ways we might continue to use our skills to serve society.

In this struggling economy, it seems we are forced everyday to do more to maintain our practice, as well as meet the needs of our families and friends. In this time, it is essential that we take advantage of the resources which have been designed to help us become more successful. As women ISBA members we are, in a way, one large law firm. We are made stronger as a whole with every individual accomplishment of our members. Take advantage of the resources of the ISBA and the Committee in order to promote yourself as well as others. This will make our “firm” more powerful, and we will all reap the rewards. ■

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September 2009Volume 15Number 1PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)