October 2020Volume 108Number 10Page 8

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President's Page

Hearing From You and Giving Credit Where It’s Due

Announcing an ISBA COVID-19 survey and winners of last year’s Board of Governors Awards.

Dennis J. Orsey

The COVID–19 pandemic has profoundly affected our society and our legal community. As president of the ISBA, I recognize the importance of serving our members and examining the full extent the pandemic has had on their economic, mental, and physical well-being. We have received much anecdotal evidence on the impact of the pandemic. But to better understand the extent to which the pandemic has affected our members, the ISBA has commissioned a member survey to help us determine the best way the Association can assist them. We hope to complete the survey by the end of October and take affirmative action thereafter. When you receive the survey via email, please take a few moments to complete it.

The honor goes to …

Typically, the Association conducts an awards ceremony during its Annual Meeting in June and an additional awards ceremony in July. I was hoping to personally hand out, along with Immediate Past-President David Sosin, awards during the Annual Meeting in St. Louis this past June, but because of the pandemic, we were unable to hold this event in person. The pandemic has limited our ability to honor well-deserving members and give them the public recognition they have earned. Each year the Illinois State Bar Association recognizes members for their exemplary service to the profession and the Association by presenting them with the prestigious Board of Governors Award. Therefore, I would like to highlight and recognize the five Board of Governor Award recipients for 2019-2020.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier. The first recipient of the Board of Governors Award is Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier, who will retire at the end of this year and is being recognized for his career-long, steadfast commitment to the Illinois legal community.

Justice Karmeier has served with distinction on our Supreme Court since 2004. During his time as chief justice, the Supreme Court successfully implemented the statewide eFileIL system that has streamlined the administration of justice in Illinois. He also served as the Supreme Court’s liaison to the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) and the Minimum Continuing Legal Education Board, where he faithfully kept practicing attorneys in mind when considering the operations of those agencies.

Former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Robert R. Thomas. The second recipient of the Board of Governors Award is former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Robert R. Thomas, who retired in February and is being recognized for his commitment to the Illinois legal community, civility in the profession, and the rule of law.

Justice Thomas was instrumental in creating the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, which promotes civility and inclusion in the legal profession in service to the administration of justice.

Under his leadership, the Court issued an order establishing the Special Supreme Court Committee on Civility in November 2001. The committee presented its final report in 2005 recommending the adoption of Supreme Court rules that would establish the Commission on Professionalism and enact mandatory continuing legal education requirements with professional responsibility components.

J. Matthew Pfeiffer. The third recipient of the Board of Governors Award is J. Matthew Pfeiffer, who is being recognized for his steadfast commitment to the Association and its mission.

Mr. Pfeiffer expertly served as the vice-chair of the ISBA Special Committee on Succession and Transition Planning, which created a library of resources to assist members in succession planning. These invaluable resources are available to all ISBA members and include videos, articles, CLE seminars, and many sample legal documents. (For more information, see the committee’s website)

Mr. Pfeiffer was also instrumental in several meetings the ISBA leadership held with the ARDC to resolve differences regarding the commission’s recent matching-services study and proposal.

Judge Grace G. Dickler. The fourth recipient of the Board of Governors Award is Judge Grace G. Dickler and her team at the Cook County Domestic Relations Division for guiding attorneys and preserving the rights and protections of Cook County citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through a series of general administrative orders, Judge Dickler was instrumental in communicating information about how the court was responding to the pandemic. She first implemented protections for the most vulnerable, such as victims of domestic violence and people experiencing true emergencies. She also put into place comprehensive temporary procedures necessary to allow her division to function, keep cases moving forward, and to address the multitude of issues that might arise for attorneys and litigants. Throughout all of this, she personally fielded concerns and accepted suggestions from attorneys.

Governing Board, ISBA Leadership Academy. The final recipient of the Board of Governors Award is the governing board of the ISBA Leadership Academy. The academy was created last year to enhance the professional careers of young, diverse members of the ISBA. The program aims to prepare the next generation of legal professionals by training them to become effective leaders in the community.

During its inaugural year, 22 participants matriculated through the academy, which consisted of five sessions where they learned about professional development, diversity and inclusion, the Illinois Supreme Court, credibility development, and more. The next Leadership Academy class will begin in December 2020. The application process will open this autumn.

Please join me in honoring these fine individuals for their continued contributions to the ISBA and the profession. They are truly deserving of our thanks and recognition.

I hope everyone remains safe and healthy during these difficult times.

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