The Chicago Bar Association 150th Celebration

CBA 150th Anniversary Celebration Into the 21st Century, 1999-2024 By Pamela Sakowicz Menaker

T he CBA has been rocked by events impacting the world at large and the legal profession in the 21st Century, book ended by the dawn of a new millennium and jolted by the meteoric rise of artificial intelligence. The CBA has weathered it all and more and continues to be vibrant through its membership and dedicated leadership; indeed, the last 25 years have seen CBA leaders leave a trail of unparalleled accomplishments while look ing forward to the future. Unique to the 21st Century Events occurred soon after ringing in the new millennium that reverberated throughout the legal community and beyond. Everyone remembers where they were during the horrific attack on America on September 11, 2001. On a happier note, every one also remembers how Chicagoan and lawyer Barack Obama became the first Black U.S. President (2009-17), with thousands celebrating his historic election-night victory at Grant Park. As the century moved on, the Covid-19 pandemic impacted every lawyer, every firm, every client. When the pandemic brought the world to a virtual halt in March 2020, Illinois Deputy Governor and CBA President Jesse H. Ruiz (2019-20) jumped into action. With the closing of courts countywide for some 18 months, CBA leaders tried to help combat the many issues confronting an efficient judiciary, including instituting remote proceedings and wellness screenings. Judge Maryam Ahmad (2020-21) continued these efforts and more, to keep the organization relevant when many had other worries. With the pandemic receding but not completely gone, one of the main missions of CBA President Timothy Tomasik (2022-23) was to return to in-person programming. Famous Faces Headline CBA Events The year 2000 marked the inaugural Justice John Paul Stevens Award, an honor the CBA now bestows annually to recognize lawyers and judges who best exemplify Justice Stevens’ legacy and commitment to pro bono work and public service as well as his commitment to ensuring a fair and accessible justice system. Jus tice Stevens, a former member of the CBA Board of Managers and a Chicago native who attended many of the Stevens awards ceremonies, retired from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 after 35 years of distinguished service. He passed away in 2019. Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr. (2008-09), Presiding Judge of

the Municipal Division of Cook County, celebrated year-long events to mark the bicentennial birth of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. President. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley kicked off the Bicentennial Luncheon, and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin spoke at a gala at Navy Pier. (Later, in 2009, Wright also introduced Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who spoke at the Interfaith Dinner about restorative justice.) During Robert Clifford’s CBA presidency (2011-12), Meet the Press moderator David Gregory, Chief Justice of Canada the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, and Justice Jose Fer nando Franco Gonzalez-Salas from Mexico’s highest federal court spoke to CBA audiences. Clifford also brought former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, former FCC Chairman Newton Minow, and former Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court Thomas Kilbride, among others, to speak on the CBA-sponsored WYCC TV public broadcasting show Justice and Law Weekly. Terri Mascherin (2010-11) introduced Justice Sonia Soto mayor to a packed CBA audience. Patricia Brown Holmes (2015-16), along with hundreds of others, saw U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at a highly acclaimed CBA interview conducted by Judge Ann Claire Williams. Holmes also spearheaded the formation of the Leadership Institute that continues to provide invaluable training to associates in Chicago law firms. Other U.S. Supreme Court Justices traveled to Chicago to speak to CBA audiences, including Justice Sandra Day O’Connor during the term of Anita Alvarez (2009-10), the first Hispanic woman and first-ever sitting Cook County State’s Attorney to serve as CBA President. Many Other “Firsts” Justice Joy V. Cunningham (2004-2005), the first African American woman to serve as President, went on to become an Illinois Supreme Court Justice. Illinois Appellate Court Justice Michael B. Hyman (2005-06) evidenced his commitment to human rights in initiating the CBA Human Rights Committee, overseeing a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and holding a multi-day Nurem berg trial program under the auspices of Nobel Peace Prize recipi ent Elie Wiesel. Recognizing the need for increasing pro bono services, Justice Hyman also started the first annual CBA/CBF

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