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LAW DAY 2022 CHANGE AS OPPORTUNITY: MAKING THE PRACTICE OF LAW MORE PERFECT
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4 LAW DAY 2022 • CHICAGO DAILY LAW BULLETIN
Law Day 2022: Sights Set on Progress Welcome to Law Bulletin Media’s celebration of Law Day 2022, based on the theme “Toward a More Perfect Union: The Constitution in Times of Change.” When COVID-19 dropped an inertia-blasting new reality on the world more than two years ago, leaders quickly realized they not only had to steer through a crisis, but also build a better future for the long-term, driven by imperatives of technology and collaboration. Inspired by the Law Day idea of striving for that “more perfect union,” we decided to examine how leaders could seize this once-in-a-career opportunity to create a better justice system in Illinois.
ANDREA HANIS Editor, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
Many of their insights grew from the idea that the pandemic pierced grandeur, formality and plain old routine in so many
areas, while refocusing attention on the practical needs of the people being served. Some hustled to meet essential needs that were more urgent than ever. Others took a pause to examine which traditions should stay and which should fall away. Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reporter Grace Barbic took the pulse of the courts, asking sources around the state to describe the immense impact of hybrid proceedings and other changes in the system. Judges descried an initial culture shock and even fear, with faster-than-imagined adaptations. That ripened into an appreciation of the benefits of new approaches — and now an examination of how to integrate it all into the future. We also wanted readers to hear directly from the VIPs drawing up the plans for what’s next in the legal community. Our double dose of Law Day Letters includes essays by top leaders of the courts, professional groups, bar associations and more, introduced by Peter Mierzwa, president and publisher of Law Bulletin Media.
Special thanks to all who took the time to write and share their progress and their views on leadership.
On a national level, talk of change and the courts centered around the Supreme Court and the historic confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman justice. With momentous issues on the docket this year, CDLB reporter Emma Oxnevad spoke to Carolyn Shapiro of the Chicago-Kent College of Law about how these times compare to other transformative eras in society and the high court.
To keep up with it all — or just wonk out with some extended discussion — regular contributors Pat Eckler and Dan Cotter recommend 10 podcasts featuring Supreme Court analysis and conversation.
We hope you’ll find our special issue thought-provoking as you take a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come in the past two years and the challenges still ahead. On behalf of the editorial team at the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and all our colleagues at Law Bulletin Media, I thank you for reading all year round as we navigate the future together.
6 LAW DAY 2022 • CHICAGO DAILY LAW BULLETIN
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CHICAGO DAILY LAW BULLETIN • LAW DAY 2022 7
A FLEXIBLE FUTURE THE PANDEMIC UPENDED TRADITION IN THE THE COURTS. IT ALSO PRESENTED AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE THINGS BETTER. By Grace Barbic
8 LAW DAY 2022 • CHICAGO DAILY LAW BULLETIN
T he COVID-19 pandemic arrived as a cataclysmic shock to the court system, demanding quick decisions to adapt to fast-changing circumstances. What came as a surprise was how positive and potentially lasting some of those changes could become. It’s by no means clear what lies ahead. But many leaders see the opportunity to draw on the lessons of the past two years and release some of the conventions of the past. Ideally, they’ll continue to welcome fresh perspectives and bring newfound energy to the idea of building a better system, one that prioritizes access, efficien- cy, communication and collaboration. Some of the most evident benefits came from remote proceed- ings, which removed hurdles that hassled the public. For many, transit, parking and other logistics and expenses are a very real
burden. User-friendly features born of the pandemic, including the ability to pay for tickets online or over the phone, quickly became favored. Other positive impacts came from establishing new ways to connect, even when not physically together. Hosting remote marriages and Zoom adoption ceremonies al- lowed celebration from afar, connecting family and friends who might have otherwise missed out on these milestone events. Vic- tims and survivors were shown a new level of empathy as they re- lived some of their most difficult or traumatic experiences from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Still more improvements came from the revelation of forced, but ultimately flowing, collaboration across the statewide system of courts.
CHICAGO DAILY LAW BULLETIN • LAW DAY 2022 9
When the COVID-19 crisis hit, said Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis, the high court knew the problems it bred would be beyond the scope of just seven justices. The new world of the court system was not only about judges, either – it was also about litigants and lawyers and how they could work toward solu- tions together. The justices began working with leaders across the state, from chief judges of the trial courts to clerks’ offices. Although leaders may have been squared away in little boxes on a small screen, scat- tered miles apart, they felt more connected than ever. “People from all across the state could now, because of this new technology, talk about the crisis, the problems they were hav- ing and ask each other for solutions,” Theis said. “What happened in that
‘NECESSITY MADE US DO IT FASTER’ Although courts have seemingly adjusted well to new norms, there is still much to learn and needs to be met. Many say the pan- demic forced a re-evaluation of the courts’ technological prowess, or lack thereof. While judges have traditionally had a “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mindset — as Chief Judge David Vancil of the 9th Judi- cial Circuit in Macomb put it — there appears to be a sense of open-mindedness surrounding remote proceedings two years after the system’s hand was forced. In March 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court came close to shutting down court operations, limiting them to “essential” op- erations. Eugene Doherty, chief judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit in Rockford, was at the forefront of figuring out how to move the courts forward as vice chair of the Court Operations During COVID-19 Task Force. Doherty said courthouses were struggling to figure out how to continue to do business in some manner without bringing people inside the building. Many did not have the infrastructure or the technology to do business remotely. “There was scrambling that went on all over the state,” he said. The 12-member task force was charged with lessening that scramble. Members had to deter-
moment was that we could collaborate and work togeth- er to come to solutions. That dynamic was amazing. It has never been there before. There are all these 102 counties and 24 circuits ... we’ve never had that kind of free-flowing, con- sistent communication.” Courts often better known for traditionalism than agility felt their perspective shift. “We realized we can change if we need to,” Theis said. “It’s just amazing that we
mine how technology might appropriately be used for jury selection and trials, as well as the use of remote proceedings in civil and criminal cases. There had to be particular regard to assurances of due process and the logistics of maintaining safety for court personnel, lit- igants and the public. “If you had convened the committee in January of 2020, and said we’d like to move our courthouses to have a remote capability in all of our court- rooms ... I think that commit- tee would still be meeting,” Doherty said. “Because it looked like a very daunting task until necessity made us do it faster.” Now, it seems, circuit courts have settled into equi- librium. “The question for the fu- ture is how many of the chang- es the court might decide to keep in one form or another, and how many will ultimately be repealed,” he said. Doherty said there are difficulties in offering a hy- brid model where people can
Mary Jane Theis Justice, Illinois Supreme Court
didn’t need to have the big courtrooms and big pillars in front of the courthouses or stairs leading up to the grand doors. We could actually do this essential work in a new way.” Other, unrelated shifts in the courts are occurring in tandem with pandemic adjustments. The state is preparing to implement a statewide pretrial service system, adjust to new appellate court districts and consider changes to the Code of Judicial Conduct. In day-to-day operations, hybrid courtroom operations could be the future of Illinois’ judicial system, several judges say. In coun- ties from Cook to Winnebago, a newfound reliance on technology revealed unprecedented ways of operating. The Supreme Court’s Illinois Judicial Conference recently created a Remote Proceedings Task Force charged with evaluating the state of remote proceedings and connecting best practices for virtual hearings from across the state. The next challenge will be ensuring courts have the technology and resources necessary to accommodate new functions. Another will be maintaining a sense of community when physical proximity isn’t forcing it. “The court as a place is not going away,” said Sanjay Tailor, Presiding Judge of the County Division in Cook County Circuit Court. “It just might be different. ... At 9:30 in the Daley Center, the elevators may not be as crowded as they used to be.”
Sanjay Tailor Presiding Judge, County Division, Cook Circuit Court
David Vancil Chief Judge, 9th Judicial Circuit
10 LAW DAY 2022 • CHICAGO DAILY LAW BULLETIN
“Before the pandemic, people would have to take a day off of work. We used to hear stories sometimes that if people were on probation with a job, they would lose their job because they had to take a day off work to come to court. We used to hear mothers of young children tell us that they had to bring all their kids down to court because they can’t find a babysitter,” Marsalek said. Many people complained of how expensive and incon- venient it is to find parking downtown or to use public transportation. “A lot of these people have very limited financial re- sources. This has basically alleviated all those concerns and those problems because people now are Zooming in from their homes or from their job.” Although there was initially a learning curve, Marsalek perceives a level of comfort with the system now. “Overall, the lawyers have told me they’re very happy that the cases are still moving, and that there is this huge
choose to show up or dial in. From his perspective, hybrid arrange- ments present more of a challenge than choosing one way of op- erating or the other. The task force will present its professional perspective to the Illinois Supreme Court in September. It will examine issues beyond
remote appearances, so its recommendations will be on a wider array of pandemic-era measures, Doherty said. “The big-picture sense is the change that can seem im- possible, can still be achieved when it’s necessary. ... That we can respond to a chal- lenge, that the judicial system is flexible enough to meet the challenges that we couldn’t have foreseen — we have that arrow in our quiver. And so that knowledge is invaluable for future challenges.” Theis said the transforma-
backlog that some other areas are expe- riencing because they weren’t moving as many cases through as we did. We’ve been able to really get a lot of cases disposed of during the pandemic, thanks to Zoom.” The Illinois Su- preme Court has been working on initiatives prior to the pandemic to set time standards for case closures in trial courts across the
Eugene Doherty Chief Judge, 17th Judicial Circuit
tional period of the courts has been both amazing and frightening. While every courthouse in the state shut down on March 17, 2020, the road ahead appeared very unclear. As the pandemic loomed over court operations, all services felt essential. “We thought, well, people can be locked in their houses; we need domestic violence courts. People may have psychotic breaks; you need mental health courts. Vulnerable people can be isolated; we need guardianship courts. Crime is still going to happen; we need those courts,” Theis said. “The big lesson is that everything we do is essential, especially at a time of crisis.” A SPUR TO UPGRADE Some judges would prefer that hybrid courtroom operations remain in place, and the creation of the Remote Proceedings Task Force is evidence they will likely continue in some form. Chief Justice Anne M. Burke has made several statements advancing the idea of hybrid court operations since the onset of the pandemic. In a 2021 letter to judges and court personnel across the state, Burke said the significant benefits of remote proceedings cannot be ignored. She noted the option to appear remotely “will continue as a key component in keeping our court system open and accessible.” Tailor believes remote hearings present the opportunity for effi- ciencies in the system. He said judges in the County Division appear in person two to three days a week. Even when in the building, they hear cases remotely as well. “It doesn’t make sense to require a lawyer or a pro se litigant to come down to the Daley Center for a two-minute hearing when they can do it from the comfort of their office or home.” But at the same time, he noted, there’s tremendous value in having an in-person hearing in select situations, particularly in a dispositive motion type setting or a trial. Diann Marsalek, presiding judge of the Traffic Division in Cook County Circuit Court, said litigants have adapted well to remote court proceedings in her division and she anticipates that all minor traffic cases will remain remote.
Diann Marsalek Presiding Judge, Traffic Division, Cook Circuit Court
state. It also created the Technology Modernization Pro- gram, which has given chief judges and trial court admin- istrators the opportunity to thoroughly assess technology needs and request funding for upgrades. “A lot of courts were probably getting maximum use out of the technology they had before they would replace it. It’s common to wait until something fails to upgrade it,” said Vancil, the chief judge in Macomb. “But with the various sources of funds that were made available, it sped that process up tremendously.” Technology upgrades will allow the courts to operate when a physical location is closed for any reason, be it the pandemic, a snowstorm or any other event, he noted. The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts brought on enterprise technology provider Guidehouse as con- sultant for the upgrade program. “They came around to each of the circuits and visited with chief judges, trial court administrators, our IT people and circuit clerks, and did a survey of things, technology wise, that we needed,” Vancil said.
CHICAGO DAILY LAW BULLETIN • LAW DAY 2022 11
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“They took that information back to form a report, then made grant applications for those things with Supreme Court funding. In this circuit, we’ve pretty much got 100% of what we have asked for ... that upgraded our core facilities to make things easier for us.” Vancil said in his circuit, remote proceedings have shown clear benefits in juvenile court, where some parents lack transportation or, in some circumstances, are incarcerated and otherwise unable to participate in a family or juvenile case. Appearing remotely, espe- cially in those types of circumstances, will continue in Vancil’s court. A BROADER POINT OF VIEW Other ongoing efforts also present the opportunity to sweep in new thinking. Theis said the Illinois Supreme Court has also started looking at the court system as a whole, rather than divided into categories of law. Oftentimes, she said, justices and judges get too “into their silos.” She noted the work of the diversity, equity and inclusion officer and the hiring of a behavioral health expert as initiatives that aim to address issues that cut across divisions, “looking holistically, organically at everything we do.” Data-driven decision-making will lead some future endeavors. Judges across the state have started logging their judicial activity as part of an effort to garner detailed data on the timeline and resources needed to move cases through the judicial system.
The first appellate court redistricting in decades up- dates districts by population to rebalance caseloads and better serve litigants. The Judicial Code of Conduct is in the process of a potential overhaul that would modernize standards, including guidelines on judges’ use of social media. “These initiatives all reflect on a judiciary that’s
extremely aware of the necessity to examine and con- sider and, where necessary, implement changes,” said Doherty, the chief judge in Rockford. “It’s a sign of a healthy judiciary that we are not sitting back letting events control us, but that we are responding quickly when challenged and planning out new directives to make the fu- ture a better one for our judiciary.”
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We all must answer the call to transform TIMES OF C HANGE DRIVE LEADERSHIP
President and Publisher, Law Bulletin Media
W hile we often think of leaders as driving change, it is usually change that is the catalyst for leadership. Consider how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the workplace and the ways we interact with one another. These changes have been the most profound catalyst for leadership that I’ve experienced in my 30 years as a lawyer and business executive. Leadership is pivotal to adapting to and leveraging change. As leaders we need to understand how changes impact our business and make thoughtful decisions on how we react to improve, rather than changing without purpose. We need to create a vision and effectively communicate to everyone impacted to ensure buy-in and adoption. We also need to recognize that some initiatives take time, especially when displacing long-held procedures or policies, and remain committed to bringing that vision to fruition. As lawyers, we understand that the law is constantly changing, and our role is to lead our clients and the commu- nity through the often complex process of justice. Just as we analyze changes in the law to chart the best path forward, we need to examine how new technologies can improve the practice of law. “The role of technology here is not to support and
enhance our old ways of working but to overhaul and often replace our practices of the past,” said Professor Richard Susskind, writing on the future of the courts for the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School. In my role leading Law Bulletin Media, I’ve had to un- derstand how the changes caused by the pandemic have impacted our staff and our customers. While we have been transitioning to a digital-first organization for some time, the pandemic drove increased adoption of our digital solutions. Recognizing hybrid as the new norm for the workplace, we are researching and developing solutions to deliver more in- formation more effectively to the legal profession. GE executive Jack Welch advised leaders to “change be- fore you have to.” Ideally, we have the luxury of time and resources to be able to plan a strategic vision. However, unexpected changes such as the pandemic or ever-present technology upgrades create opportunities for us to lead our organizations and communities to a better place. In the coming pages, you’ll read legal leaders’ own words on how they aspired to leverage change for improve- ment. We hope you find it inspiring and informative as you look to the future – and to building a more perfect system of justice in Illinois.
CHICAGO DAILY LAW BULLETIN • LAW DAY 2022 15
Broadening the Reach of Justice
O n behalf of the Illinois Supreme Court, my colleagues and I extend to you our best wishes for Law Day 2022 as we reflect on the idea of “Building a More Perfect Practice of Law in Illinois.” For more than two years now, the COVID pandemic has affected every facet of society, including our court system. Yet, it has also provided us with the opportu- nity to re-examine how our court system functions and dispenses justice. Due to the pandemic, the court opened up new lines of communication with judges, stakeholders and the public — including the Illinois State Bar Associa- tion-sponsored Virtual Listening Tour. With the collabo- ration and cooperation of our judiciary and many newly created task forces, the Court rapidly generated many lasting and positive advances in the last two years. One example is the Illinois Supreme Court’s Tech- nology Modernization Program. Through this program, circuit court chief judges and administrators are work- ing with the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts to identify the circuit courts’ technology needs and to assist them in obtaining funding for necessary up- grades. With these upgrades, in conjunction with new Supreme Court rules permitting remote hearings in a number of contexts, we are revolutionizing the way that justice is dispensed in Illinois. We have come to realize that justice is not a place, but a service. The improved technological capabilities of our courts and our new rules not only increase the overall efficiency of court operations, but also assist attorneys in their ability to provide services to their clients in a more cost-effective and efficient manner. This benefits both attorneys and their clients, and is especially im- portant now that redistricting has greatly expanded the areas of the four judicial districts outside Cook County. Attorneys and all court users will also benefit from the new Illinois Supreme Court Policy on Portable Elec- tronic Devices in state courthouses, adopted in Jan- uary of this year. This new policy permits the use of portable electronic devices — such as smart phones and tablets — permitting court users to work more productively. The pandemic has been an enormous challenge. However, at least for our court system, it has been the challenge we needed. Again, best wishes for this Law Day 2022!
“ We have come to realize that justice is not a place, but a service. ”
ANNE M. BURKE Chief Justice, Illinois Supreme Court
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Ingenuity Allowed Court to Adapt
T he coronavirus pandemic created immense challenges for the Circuit Court of Cook County. The court had to balance how to keep the public, judges, and court personnel safe from a lethal virus, while continuing to provide justice. In thinking back on the last two years on this Law Day, I have been pleased and humbled at how creatively and ef- fectively court staff and judges have met this unprecedented difficulty. The court never closed, and we learned new ways to do things that will improve access to justice going for- ward, even after the pandemic is a memory. Soon after the pandemic’s onset, our staff outfitted ev- ery courtroom with Zoom technology to allow litigants and judges to interact remotely through teleconference. We dis- covered that not only did this aid in the disposition of cases, but it created new opportunities for those appearing before the court, eliminating the need for travel for minor proceed- ings, such as status hearings. Now judges are planning to extend the use of teleconference and video conference even after the pandemic for certain matters. Improvements to the court’s audio and video equipment also had the benefit of improving and increasing capacity for extended media coverage and for digital presentation of evidence. The court was creative and flexible in restarting jury tri- als this past year. Court personnel worked with government health experts to ensure safety and proper distancing and studied best practices from other courts. Courtrooms were outfitted with clear, plastic shields, and accommodations were made to provide social distanc- ing in jury assembly and deliberation areas. The courthouses are ready in case of a resurgence to continue with trials and other in-person proceedings. One of the most significant changes was the court’s re- sponse to requests for increased and improved services for survivors of domestic violence. Funding provided by the Cir- cuit Court of County will pay for additional personnel and equipment, including 40 laptop computers, to boost current operations and ultimately to facilitate 24/7 access to orders of protection for these cases. Our court recognizes that petitioners in Domestic Vi- olence cases are often undergoing tremendous stress and may face physical danger, and they cannot wait for regular business hours to obtain emergency protective orders. We have been encouraged that despite the pandemic, our Restorative Justice Community Courts and Problem-Solv- ing Courts have continued to help people charged with low-level offenses get second chances. Conducting proceed- ings by Zoom did not interfere with people getting the guid- ance they needed. These last two years have shown that the courts can adapt to difficult circumstances through technology, inge- nuity, and the strong will to continue to serve the public.
“ We learned new ways to do things that will improve access to justice going forward, even after the pandemic is a memory. ”
TIMOTHY C. EVANS Chief Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County
CHICAGO DAILY LAW BULLETIN • LAW DAY 2022 17
Judges, Lawyers Can Be Change Agents
I have been a judge for many years, and the Chief Judge of our court since 2019. A title like this one is humbling. We have done our best here in the federal court to respond to current challenges. The court offered a pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic, provides COVID tests to members of the public in the courthouse lobby, and conducts naturalization ceremonies in the courtyard outside our building and in large venues throughout the Northern District of Illinois. This was all made possible, not by the court alone, but in partnership with local universities, public health organizations and cultural institutions that comprise the community we serve. In our court, as elsewhere, remote proceedings have offered economies and convenience. We will continue to be sensitive to the value, for the practicing bar and the public, of such proceedings. We also look forward to more in-person hearings and events, and we will maintain protocols to ensure that the public is safe and welcome in the dignity afforded by the federal courthouse. Leadership is a great challenge in these times, when a global pandemic, deep political divisions, increased violence, and fears about the future seem intractable. Judges and lawyers alone can’t solve these problems — but surely there has never been a time when our profession is so important as it is now. Our courthouse, and our judicial system, are the site and symbol of the rule of law, a guiding principle in our democracy. We judges do our best to make hard deci- sions, and we take our roles seriously. But judges can’t do anything completely on our own. That’s why lawyers are so important. Lawyers and their clients can be agents for change. They lift the curtain to expose corruption, challenge wrongdoing, organize against injustice, and speak up for the voiceless. Abraham Lincoln, perhaps this nation’s greatest leader, spoke to those who opposed him, and said, “We are not enemies, but friends.” Lincoln hoped for a time when “the mystic chords of memory” would be touched “by the better angels of our nature.” We in the legal system, we the leaders in 21st centu- ry America, must do everything we can to sound those mystic chords. I am proud to be part of a profession that has the tools to make our city and nation, better, stronger, and more just.
“ Our courthouse, and our judicial system, are the site and symbol of the rule of law, a guiding principle in our democracy. ”
REBECCA PALLMEYER Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
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Committed to Keeping Appeals on Track
A s we observe Law Day 2022, the 1st District Appellate Court can look back and be justifiably proud of our commitment to keep cases moving even during a pandemic, while at the same time looking forward to coming out of the COVID cocoon to serve the people of Cook County. Starting under the leadership of executive com- mittee chairs Justice Maureen Connors (2019-2020) and Justice Mary Kay Rochford (2020-2021), the Jus- tices and staff of the 1st District have worked tirelessly throughout this COVID period to fulfill our commitment to provide access to efficient, fair, service-oriented ap- pellate proceedings for the lawyers and litigants in our community. For the period January 2021, through March 14, 2022, the justices of the 1st District conducted 302 vid- eo-conferenced oral arguments and closed 2,598 cases. We appreciate the cooperation of the attorneys who participated in the oral arguments. During a program started by Justice Bertina Lampkin, we watched with gratitude as private attor- neys stepped up and offered pro bono assistance to criminal defendants as the Office of the State Appellate Defender faced unprecedented staff shortages affect- ing its clients. We are pleased to report that OSAD has notified us that it is now able to handle its full caseload without the assistance of the volunteer attorneys. We actively participated in the development of Illinois Free Legal Answers. The online project, with the assistance of the ABA, Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, Public Interest Law Initiative, and private attorneys has provided virtual assistance to appellate litigants. And we are grateful to our exceptional staff. Their cooperation in maintaining good public health and safety protocols resulted in a fully functioning court, which minimized the need to close our court for only four days for COVID issues. E-filing and lobby drop-off boxes allowed for all documents to be processed with same-day file stamps. Finally, we thank the other stakeholders in the Appellate process, the trial court judges and staff, the Clerk of the Circuit Court, the Court Reporters’ Office of Cook County, the State’s Attorney, the Public Defender, the Office of the State Appellate Defender and private attorneys for doing everything possible to keep the court system in Cook County up and running during these difficult times. We are looking forward to returning to normal!
“ The Justices and staff of the 1st District have worked tirelessly to provide access to efficient, fair, service-oriented appellate proceedings. ”
AURELIA PUCINSKI Chair, Executive Committee, 1st District Appellate Court of Illinois
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Ideals Drive Changes in Justice System
T he COVID-19 global pandemic presented a novel coronavirus with prevention and treatment methods then yet unknown. The Illinois Supreme Court’s response — pursuant to its administrative and supervisory authority over all courts in the state accorded by the Illinois Constitution — was to immediately lead a transformational effort, starting in March 2020, to mitigate the impact on access to justice for all Illinoisans. Through this monumental effort to keep the trains running in our justice system, the Supreme Court, in turn, fostered “a more perfect practice of law in Illinois” through innovative means such as remote access to court proceedings and hybrid proceedings with some stakeholders present in the courtroom and others par- ticipating remotely. On a separate but related front, judges and court stakeholders charged with the administration of justice in Illinois, the United States and, indeed, the world also experienced the urgency of significant societal issues re- ceiving increased attention during the pandemic. The events and zeitgeist of these past two years challenged public institutions, including the court systems, to ac- knowledge and confront realities associated with the fair administration of justice. Courts recognized their unique position at the van- guard of responding to societal issues and refocused efforts towards examining what systemic change is needed to make equality under the law a reality for all. This includes issues such as a lack of diversity in the bench, bar, and court workforce and what we need to do to build a more diverse pipeline toward the legal profession. To support this mission, the Supreme Court created the position of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Of- ficer in 2020 to work with court leaders throughout the state and nationally. Courts also are learning more about the effects of mental health and substance use on the profession and the relationship between impairments to mental well-being and associated conduct leading to justice involvement. In response, the court created a State- wide Behavioral Health Administrator to support all the judges, attorneys and justice stakeholders who regularly experience these issues in their work. As the pandemic and forces of change subside and shift, the courts are not simply recreating past systems and processes; rather, courts have embraced the poten- tial to learn from these experiences and create better systems that continue to meet the collective needs of our changing society. In this way, we build a more per- fect practice of law in Illinois.
“ As the pandemic and forces of change subside and shift, the courts are not simply re-creating past systems and processes. ”
MARCIA M. MEIS Director, Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts
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Legal Profession Will Adapt and Prevail
B uilding a More Perfect Practice of Law in Illinois” is a never-ending construction project, filled with revised architectural plans, change orders and interim phase deadlines. This construction process had its “footings” by the English Common Law. The “foundation” of American Jurisprudence was “poured” by our Constitution. Floor by floor of construction has been added by statutes and case law precedent, with each floor guiding us to the next. But construction will continue; our law and legal system will never be a finished, turnkey product. The pandemic has ushered in a plethora of changes to the legal profession. Our profession rose to this chal- lenge and was able to provide legal services despite the obstacles of masks, social distancing and Zoom. Even before that, in my 45 years as a lawyer, and the last 25 of those as a judge, our profession has proven that it is capable of change — from attorney advising, carbon paper to photocopies, letters to emails, law books to the internet and newspapers to social media. The list goes on, but it proves that our profession has been able to navigate challenges through our pro- fessionalism, civility, integrity, and the collective desire and goal to interact with and complement each other through education, bar associations, and respect for our profession’s integral place in society. It is these very skills that will continue to ensure we are able to add more floors to our building. It is with profound respect, civility, and the ability to adapt that our profession approaches the future, awaiting the next challenge. We will need to figure out how to stay connected in an increasingly virtual world while maintaining the trust and respect that the third branch of government deserves. We also need to attract the next generation to this important endeavor. Finally, we must ensure that the public maintains faith in the non-partisan neutrality of all courts, from the U.S. Supreme Court to the local traffic court. Con- fidence in the judicial system is imperative to the future of our democracy. For the past 250 years, our profession has proven that, despite any seemingly impossible change, it has prevailed. The future awaits, and today is the first day of that future. So, let’s keep building and let’s take pride in the completion of each new, successive floor, as we strive toward a “More Perfect Practice of Law in Illinois.”
“ Construction will continue; our law and legal system will never be a finished, turnkey product. ”
KENNETH POPEJOY Chief Judge, 18th Judicial Circuit Court
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Integrity Leads Way in Difficult Times
T he Lawyers’ Assistance Program is grateful to commemorate Law Day, which recognizes the importance of the Rule of Law in our country and the legal underpinnings that make this country unique. After two years of grief, loss, changes and uncertainty, addressing the topic of leadership in changing times is more important than ever. LAP is a not-for-profit organization that has been helping judges, lawyers, and law students since 1980. We have seen significant increases in outreach related to men- tal-health and substance-abuse problems, career issues and interpersonal and family relationship challenges. Often these challenges increase when leadership is not adaptive to the needs of their community. As the econo- mist John Kenneth Galbraith once said, “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.” When so many factors are constantly changing, we need today’s leaders to display integrity, kindness, com- passion, empathy, emotional stability, and predictability, showing that decisions are made with the employee’s and organization’s best interests at heart. The Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, former President of the University of Notre Dame, said “The very essence of leader- ship is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” Finally, you must show a level of flexibility that allows people to thrive under adverse conditions. You must clearly communicate your expectations and goals, while holding people accountable for their role in the work product. You must rise to the challenge of navigating complex and novel challenges with innovation and transparency, so that those who work for you know that you are focused and committed to growing and developing the organiza- tion as well as the people who work within it. And you must hold yourself accountable to the highest standards, so that those who work for you trust you to work with honesty and integrity, even when decision making is chal- lenging and difficult. Every leader should remember that the rule of law that makes us strive for truth, justice, fairness, and equity, also relates to great leadership under challenging times. Focus on creating healthy, happy, and creative employees with flexibility and compassion. As business leader Harvey Fires- tone once said, “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”
“ You must rise to the challenge of navigating complex and novel challenges with innovation and transparency. ”
DIANA UCHIYAMA Executive Director, Lawyers’ Assistance Program
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Reach Out for Guidance, Referrals
T he Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) has begun its 50th year of assisting the Illinois Supreme Court in its regulation of the legal profession in Illinois. The ARDC offers valuable resources to help Illinois lawyers serve their clients competently, ethically and professionally. Lawyers can access 30 free, on-demand webinars on the ARDC’s website, www.iardc.org. The webinars are available 24 hours a day, provide 23.75 hours of professional responsibility MCLE credit, and cover every- thing from maintaining client trust accounts to succes- sion planning for law firms to attorney wellness. The Proactive Management Based Regulation (PMBR) Self-Assessment Program is an innovative tool for lawyers to examine their practices and minimize malpractice liability and lawyer disciplinary risk. While the program is mandatory for lawyers in private practice who do not maintain malpractice insurance, any Illinois lawyer can view the free PMBR course modules to earn four hours of MCLE credit. Lawyers who encounter a perplexing ethical issue in their practices may call the ARDC’s Ethics Inquiry Ho- tline at 312-565-2600 and speak to an ARDC lawyer for research assistance and guidance in resolving the issue. The ethics call program has continued apace despite the COIVID-19 pandemic and took 2,817 calls during 2021. The ARDC, under the guidance of the Supreme Court, has also endeavored to help lawyers who are the subject of disciplinary investigations. The ARDC works with the Lawyers’ Assistance Program (LAP) to benefit lawyers whose struggles with substance abuse or men- tal illness may be impacting their practices. The ARDC refers attorneys to LAP during otherwise confidential disciplinary investigations in order to give those lawyers an opportunity to meaningfully address such issues. The ARDC has also begun a program whereby in- dependent intermediaries reach out to attorneys who have not responded to repeated ARDC contacts during disciplinary investigations with an aim to have those attorneys engage in the process and avoid the conse- quences of a default. Additionally, lawyers who are the subject of partic- ular types of grievances and who agree to comply with certain conditions may be eligible to have their disci- plinary investigation closed under the ARDC’s diversion program. In the event of a lawyer’s death or disability, the ARDC can assist the lawyer’s family, friends, or col- leagues in returning client files and otherwise respon- sibly closing the lawyer’s practice. The ARDC may be appointed receiver for the practice when appropriate. Please visit the ARDC’s website for more informa- tion to help you build a more perfect law practice.
“ The ARDC offers valuable resources to help Illinois lawyers serve their clients competently, ethically and professionally. ”
JEROME LARKIN Administrator, Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission
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Podcasts – some irreverent, some scholarly – delve into top court and its decisions
The Supreme Court of the United States has long been a mysterious operation. Despite being the top and final court in the third branch of our government, the Court has operated in relative obscurity for most of its existence. But a number of podcasts focused on the U.S. Constitution and the Court provide a new avenue for analysis and conversation about its doings. Here are some recommended listens as the legal community celebrates the Constitution and change theme of Law Day.
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