As I look back on the past year, it has been my privilege to lead the Illinois State Bar Association as we work to address issues that are significant to Illinois’ attorneys, judges and citizens.
Law students and recent graduates were among this year’s top priorities, with efforts made to welcome them to the profession and encourage their involvement in our association. To assist the next generation of our profession, we worked to address student loan debt and practice-oriented training during law school. We have also focused on helping solo and small firm practitioners with succession planning.
As a native of Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, however, I take the problem of gun violence in that and other communities personally. The issue is complex and widespread — violent and deadly gun-related tragedies are increasingly taking the national spotlight — and the answers are not simple.
They require thoughtful, continuous, communitywide dialogue. Recognizing that our member lawyers and judges are uniquely positioned to lead the discussion and support Illinois’ response to gun violence in our communities, I formed the ISBA’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention.
On March 14, our committee hosted a roundtable discussion on gun violence and logical solutions at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. This event will bring together subject-matter experts and key stakeholders from all corners of the state to discuss strategies for tackling the issue. This includes using crime data and intelligence-based focused deterrence and looking at violence as a public health issue.
With every year that passes, it seems our nation becomes increasingly polarized, from nationwide gun violence and calls for greater gun control in the wake of deadly shootings, to widespread claims of sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement, to the open displays of bigotry and racism in Charlottesville, Va.
With these events as the backdrop, this year’s Law Day presents an opportunity for all lawyers to reflect on the importance of the rule of law and the principles underpinning our Constitution.