The Chicago Bar Association 150th Celebration

CBA 150th Anniversary Celebration A New Home for a Changing Profession, 1974-1999 By John Levin

T he period 1974-1999 saw signifi cant changes both in the nature of the practice of law and in The Chicago Bar Association. They were also the years in which I actively practiced law and was active in the CBA, so my personal experience is reflected in this institutional history. The practice of law changed in major ways during this period, institutionally and technologically. Institutional changes involved the growth of large, multijuris dictional law firms and the formal rec ognition that the practice of law was a business as well as a learned profession. Technological changes included the introduction of cell phones, computers, the internet, and online legal research capability. A New Home The CBA also went through some sig nificant changes during this period. The most visible change was moving from its long-time leased space at 29 South LaSalle Street to its current location at 321 South Plymouth Court. The move, itself, resulted in significant changes to the CBA. The building at 29 South LaSalle had two restaurants and several small dining rooms for members. One restaurant was a formal dining room for client meet ings; the other was an informal restaurant good for having lunch with colleagues. For some reason these restaurants leant an air of “clubbiness” to the CBA, a positive sense that this was “your” personal profes sional space. The new building started by recreating these restaurants, but they were not suc cessful and eventually closed. As a result,

the CBA Building lost some of its aspects of being a social center for lawyers and became more focused on the business and technical aspects of the profession, reflect ing what was happening in the profession and our society at large. The Law Library The building at 29 South LaSalle had a large, heavily used law library. In the 1970s and 1980s, legal research was still done with printed material, state and federal statutes, legal indexes, and case reporters. Unless you worked for a large law firm that had the space and finances to have a large law library, only two law libraries were available downtown, and the CBA had one of them. At its height, the CBA library had almost 100,000 visits a year, and by the mid-1980s it required an annual budget of approxi mately $900,000. The firm I worked for only had a limited library, and for most material I had to go to the CBA library. When the CBA moved to Plymouth Court it merged its library with the John Marshall Law School library next door, which resulted in a significant annual cost savings. Members of the CBA could use the JMLS library. However, the physical layout of the JMLS library was set up for students and was less suitable for practic ing lawyers. Also, the introduction of the merged library occurred just as technol ogy and the internet began to change the nature of legal research. Various jurisdic tions began putting their legal material online, and service providers such as Lex isNexis and Westlaw facilitated research without the need for printed case report ers and indexes. The profession was on the cusp of not needing extensive libraries.

These factors reduced the demand for use of the CBA as a research resource. Committees The new building, however, provided ample space for committee meetings. Over these 25 years, the number of com mittees grew from 74 to 133. While 40 of the committees involved the newly established Young Lawyers Section, other committees were formed that reflected advances in technology and specialization and administration of the law and law firms. Of special interest to me was the involvement of the CBA in the adoption by the Illinois Supreme Court of a Code of Professional Responsibility, which later incorporated the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. For several years the Professional Responsibility Commit tee issued formal opinions interpreting the Code. Another committee was the editorial board of the CBA Record, which, under its long-serving Editor-in-Chief, Justice Michael B. Hyman, replaced an earlier and much less comprehensive pub lication, the Chicago Bar Record. However, over this 25-year period there was a subtle change in the charac ter of committee meetings. While there were always colleagues to meet and proj ects on which to work, I began to attend committee meetings also to learn about developments in the law, technology, and administration. The time spent on com mittee work had an increasingly signifi cant personal educational component. A Changing Association Much of the credit for managing the CBA during these turbulent years goes to Terry Murphy, appointed executive director in

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