November 2020Volume 108Number 11Page 8

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President's Page

Keeping the ISBA on Track During the Pandemic

ISBA business is proceeding at a frenetic pace this autumn.

Dennis J. Orsey

While the pandemic has presented great challenges to the Illinois State Bar Association and my presidency, it has also presented opportunities for carrying out the work of the Association and representing the membership.

Access to Justice. Perhaps the most prominent event has been the ISBA’s joint sponsorship of Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke’s Access to Justice Listening Tour. I have served as moderator for each of these virtual listening events, which took place throughout Illinois. The listening tour obtained feedback from invited members of the judiciary, law enforcement, court personnel, and the practicing bar concerning present-day issues related to the court system. The listening tour began in Madison County and proceeded to Whiteside, Adams, Winnebago, and Cook counties. Invitations were extended to select residents throughout the state’s judicial circuits. At each event, various members of the Supreme Court listened to comments and suggestions from invited participants. Information gained from the listening tour may result in rule changes by the Supreme Court. Each of these sessions can be viewed on the ISBA website at the Access to Justice page.

Also, in August, the ISBA submitted formal comments soundly rejecting most of the recommendations contained in the CBA/CBF Task Force on the Sustainable Practice of Law and Innovation Report.

Virtual Candidates Forum. In September, the ISBA and the Appellate Lawyers Association (ALA) cohosted a Virtual Candidates Forum featuring Fifth District Appellate Court Justices Judy Cates and David Overstreet, who are competing against each other to fill the Illinois Supreme Court seat of retiring Justice Lloyd Karmeier. I served as moderator along with ALA President John Fitzgerald. Both candidates have been highly recommended by the ISBA and each did an excellent job in responding to questions.

Illinois Bar Foundation Gala-Palooza. October brought us the Illinois Bar Foundation Gala-Palooza, which was a first-time virtual event spread out over three days featuring magicians, lawyer bands, and award recipients. While not our typical black-tie event from the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, it afforded an opportunity for lawyers from around the state to come together and raise money for a variety of worthwhile programs. Thank you to all who donated this year!

Solo and Small Firm Conference. In late October the ISBA hosted its first virtual two-day Solo and Small Firm Conference, which drew attorneys from around Illinois who listened to quality programming designed to improve how solo and small-firm practitioners deliver their legal services. Along with ISBA Past President John Locallo, I enjoyed welcoming participants. Topics included how to successfully and securely use mobile technology to run your practice, how to use social media in the courtroom, how to communicate with your clients, and how to become a better leader. Thank you to ISBA Mutual Insurance and Inland Private Capital Corporation for sponsoring this event.

Board of Governors. Since I took office in mid-June, I have chaired four virtual meetings of our Board of Governors, which continues to address ongoing legal issues affecting ISBA members. We heard from our committee on elections on rule changes for ISBA candidates seeking office in this election cycle during the pandemic; we restructured our annual budget to reflect how meeting and events have been restricted; and we received an update from our Steering Committee on Racial Inequality.

COVID-19 survey. By now, I hope you’ve been able to respond to the ISBA survey issued in October seeking feedback on how the pandemic has affected your economic, physical, and mental well-being. Responses will help us address membership needs through additional programming and outreach. I have met with Dr. Diane Uchiyama, executive director of the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program (LAP), to discuss how the ISBA and LAP can better serve our members during these troubled times.

Works in progress. Our Steering Committee on Racial Inequality and the Special Committee on the Rural Practice Initiative have been hard at work addressing programs that will benefit Illinois lawyers and the practice of law. I commend them for their dedication to their difficult tasks.

While our Annual Meeting in June was cancelled, our Midyear Meeting with the Illinois Judges Association in December will be held virtually. In addition to our usual programming, such as committee and section council meetings, continuing legal education programs, and the Assembly Meeting, I will preside over a first-time town-hall meeting to hear directly from our membership. I hope you will join me and our officers in this discussion.

Trust me, there is no one in the Association who wishes more than Cathy and I that we were meeting in person at our Midyear Meeting in Chicago; but until the pandemic is behind us, we hope to see you at this virtual event. Please stay safe and healthy.

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