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Focus for the ISBA

Setting Out to Make a Difference for Illinois Lawyers

I believe that by working together, the 29,000 members of the ISBA can overcome several of the challenges facing today's legal profession. Specifically, there are three battles that must be fought and won.

First, the ISBA must bring the legal community together in a way that maximizes technology but doesn’t neglect relationships. The new ISBA website is fantastic! It connects members to each other, to legal resources, and to current events, as well as opportunities to get involved. The ability for our members to log on and contribute, learn, advise, and be advised is unparalleled by any other bar association. The ISBA must leverage this tool by teaching our members how to utilize the website and how it will enhance their law practice.

As our members interact through the virtual communities, the ISBA must continue to be cognizant of the importance of face-to-face contact. We can find new ways and enhance old ways of membership getting together – for a fist bump, a handshake, discussion, and ultimately, friendship. My earliest memory of an ISBA Annual Meeting was in St. Louis, where I saw my Grandad honored for fifty years of commitment to the legal community. I was struck at how strong and plentiful the friendships were and how they seemed to reveal themselves every twenty-five feet we walked. It was apparent to this young lawyer all those years ago that these folks loved being lawyers and cared for each other.

Second, it’s extremely important that the ISBA improve leadership development. I would have this process originate at the law student level by implementing mentorship programs at each law school. New lawyers should easily be afforded the opportunity to develop a rich relationship with seasoned lawyers. These programs should be based on the premise that the privilege of being a lawyer comes with the obligation to mentor, assist, and promote other lawyers. It’s absolutely imperative that these relationships value and promote diversity in race, gender, and sexual orientation. The ISBA must strive to have the training and development of less experienced lawyers be a personal and professional obligation each of us proudly shoulders. The benefits will be reciprocal.

Finally, it’s time to respond to the attack on the profession itself. The law is, at its core, a service profession. The ISBA is made up of lawyers who are responsive, proactive, and empathetic. When I envision our members, I see people of integrity; folks who are straightforward and trustworthy. Illinois lawyers are respectful and professional in their dealings with clients, judges, adversaries, other lawyers, staff, and strangers. The lawyers in this state are quick to give back to their communities by way of pro bono work, community service, sitting on boards, and teaching/lecturing. The ISBA must never lose its heart and soul – which arises out of the relationships we develop, foster, and treasure – and our commitment to help others.

I am proud to be a lawyer and am eager to let the world know that the ISBA members are honored to share their talents of analysis, expression, and persuasion for the public good.


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