July 2017 • Volume 105 • Number 7 • Page 10
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A Running Start
A bar president's work begins months before the installation ceremony.
One of the realities of becoming ISBA president is that the work begins in the months leading up to taking office. The following partial list gives you an idea.
- For me, it started with the two-day ABA Bar Leadership Conference at the Chicago Marriott in March, where bar leaders throughout the nation exchanged ideas and learned about developments in the legal profession and the bar world.
- I spent two days in Springfield making section council and committee appointments. It was encouraging that so many talented lawyers sought leadership positions.
- I attended the American Bar Association's Midyear Meeting in Miami, where there was a spirted discussion of the bar passage rate, among other significant topics.
- I met with deans at selected ISBA-affiliated law schools to learn about developments in legal education and discuss how bar associations can work with law schools to help prepare the next generation of lawyers.
- I went to Washington, D.C. with ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington and representatives from the ABA and Chicago Bar Association to help make the case for continued funding for the Legal Services Corporation. U.S. Rep. Bill Foster was very helpful in listening and sharing ideas with us, as were Representatives Dan Lipinski, Raja Krishnamoorthi, and others in the Illinois delegation. I really enjoyed our interaction with them.
- I traveled to Rock Island, where the Illinois Bar Foundation honored longtime ISBA leader Robert Park and the legacy of Martin Katz, with both families present. They received the IBF Fellows Award. I was honored to speak about Bob Park's service to our association.
- I spoke at three CLE programs. To be a leader, you must share your knowledge.
- I participated in the Allerton House Conference at Starved Rock in Utica, which is held every two years and presented by our Civil Practice Section Council. One of the presenters, Professor Dan Katz of Chicago-Kent Law School, spoke about the future of our profession and how practice technology has evolved. I spoke on the benefits of mediation.
- I attended the installation of Sandra Blake as president of the West Suburban Bar Association in Lombard. Sandy has been a leader in many bar groups, including the ISBA.
- I spoke at the swearing in of new lawyers at the Thompson Center in Chicago and reminded them to be positive and optimistic in their approach to their new profession. Despite the abundance of gloomy news these days about the market for legal services, new opportunities will open to them as their careers unfold.
- I went to William Tribler's memorial service at the Chicago Cultural Center, where I spoke about my fondness for Bill and how he loved being on the ISBA Assembly. Many lawyers throughout the state shared wonderful stories about this brilliant, colorful downstate-born-and-bred Chicago lawyer and proud Bradley and U of I College of Law alum.
- I attended the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism's The Future is Now: Legal Services 2.017 conference at the Art Institute of Chicago. We were an event cosponsor. Attendees learned about new ways of communicating, collaborating, and marketing using innovative technology and business models. Illinois Supreme Court Justice Robert Thomas gave the opening remarks, and conference speakers discussed how to thrive in our digital age and give real value to clients. Jayne Reardon, executive director of the commission, expertly presided over the program.
- I underwent media training, a rite of passage for all ISBA presidents.
All of this led up to my June 16 installation as the 141st ISBA president at The Abbey in Fontana, Wisconsin on Lake Geneva. Members expressed their happiness about returning to this family-friendly environment. For many, it's a mini vacation. For more about my background and plans for the coming year, read Ed Finkel's cover story.
Now you can understand why I decided to retire from the bench despite protests from colleagues and friends as I approached my presidential year. But if the pace is challenging, it is also exciting. As I travel around the state, I hope I get the chance to talk to you personally. Let's have a great year!