FONTANA, Wisconsin – Arlington Heights, Illinois attorney John G. O’Brien will be installed today as the 133rd president of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) at the organization’s annual meeting at The Abbey.
The 35,000-member ISBA, with offices both in Springfield and Chicago, Ill., provides professional services to Illinois lawyers, and education and services to the public.
During his term as president, O’Brien will continue the ISBA’s strategic marketing initiative begun in 2005 to inform consumers about the value of having legal matters handled by a lawyer and to direct consumers to either ISBA’s Illinois Lawyer Finder on-line or its phone referral service if they need help in finding a lawyer.
O’Brien, a solo practitioner who concentrates his law practice in real estate, noted that homeowners who are facing foreclosure, for example, could benefit by using an attorney. “It is extremely important to have an attorney at your side not only when facing crisis situations, such as foreclosure, but also for more routine legal matters,” he said.
Increasing diversity within the legal profession is another ISBA initiative which will continue under O’Brien’s year as president. “There are programs already in place that encourage minority youngsters to take a serious look at a career in law,” he said. “My goal is to help increase awareness of these programs and encourage local bar associations to get involved so that more minority students will become passionate about the law and consider it for a profession.”
The diversity effort will be headed by Alice Noble-Allgire, professor of law at Southern Illinois University School of Law. He noted that a mentoring program implemented by the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois and mentoring programs developed by many law firms are examples of successful diversity efforts which can be emulated. “We must find ways to increase the number of minority students in the legal pipeline so that ten years from now, the number of law school graduates of color will more accurately reflect our state’s diverse population,” he said.
Long active in the ISBA, O’Brien was elected in 2002 to the Board of Governors, the ISBA’s 25-member governing body, and, since 1997, has served as a member of the ISBA Assembly, the supreme policy making body of the association. He was elected ISBA third vice president in May 2006.
O’Brien is an appointed member of the Illinois Supreme Court’s Minimum Continuing Legal Education Board, and a member of the ISBA’s Special Committee on Strategic Planning and its Task Force on the Unauthorized Practice of Law. He is also a member of the Illinois Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the ISBA.
As founder and chairman of the Illinois Real Estate Lawyers Association, he helps lead an organization which serves as a watchdog to help guard against the unauthorized practice of law. The organization, with more than 2,000 members, also educates the public about matters related to buying and selling real estate. O’Brien is a board member of Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, Inc.
O’Brien received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 1968 and his J.D. from Loyola University School of Law in 1972.