Since it was founded in 1990 by a handful of Arab American attorneys, the Arab American Bar Association of Illinois (AABAR) has continually strived to serve the public and our community.

Our ethnically and religiously diverse membership remains dedicated to the rule of law and is pleased to celebrate Law Day 2018 and its theme, “Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom.”

This theme is particularly timely, reminding us of one of the most fundamental governing legacies of our Constitution. While we reflect on the importance of the separation of powers, we can see its influence over the past year for AABAR in particular.

In January 2017, as the first of the executive orders banning certain travel into the U.S. went into effect, several of our members rushed to O’Hare Airport to volunteer to assist stranded and detained travelers.

In many cases, we stood with loved ones who waited patiently for hours, hoping to see their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends walk through the airport gates. We felt so grateful to see lawyers of all ethnicities, races, and religions on the ground helping these travelers and their families.

Within days, the Arab American Bar Association of Illinois, along with several other Arab American organizations united with numerous bar organizations to hold a press conference at The Chicago Bar Association to address the effects of these executive orders.

We believed lawyers could make a difference, and they did. We saw the importance of the separation of powers in full effect.

Over the past year, AABAR was privileged to work with so many other organizations and communities to further our mission of inclusiveness.

In February, AABAR co-sponsored a timely panel discussion on “Of Civil Wrongs & Rights” in honor of Fred Korematsu.

In April, we joined The Chicago Bar Association’s Vanguard Ceremony to honor those attorneys who have dedicated themselves to principles of inclusion including our own past-president, Sana’a Hussien.

In August, we joined the Decalogue Society in an event to condemn anti-Semitism and later jointly held the second Annual Building Bridges Awards ceremony where one of our founding members, former judge William J. Haddad, was honored.

We participated in many other events showcasing our legal knowledge, celebrating our diversity, and honoring the hundreds of attorneys who work tirelessly to make our community better.

In July, we were proud to see a board member, Samuel J. Betar III, sworn in as a judge for the Circuit Court of Cook County. We culminated the year with our first-ever judicial reception, organized by past-president Donna Haddad and vice president Marvet Sweis Drnovsek, where we welcomed over 250 judges and lawyers who turned out to support our bar at the Alhambra Palace.

It was an amazing year of firsts for AABAR, and we are continually humbled to be welcomed so warmly by so many bar organizations. We believe 2018 will be even stronger with our members making each of three, separate but equal, branches of government stronger.