The Chicago Bar Association is pleased to recognize and celebrate Law Day, a time when we reflect on the importance of the role of law in the foundation of our country and the importance of the rule of law in the continued existence of our free society.

As we mark Law Day 2019 with the theme of “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society,” the CBA is proud to have chartered a course this past year to promote many of the fundamental values of this theme and how they apply to lawyers and the legal profession.

My goal as CBA president this year has been to focus our members on civics, civility and collegiality in the legal profession and how we can work to promote and reignite these important values in the practice of law.

Respectful public discourse and civility is at the core of our democracy, and it is a fundamental cornerstone of the legal profession.

Unfortunately, we are daily witnesses to a growing coarseness in our society in our social and political dialogue. Incivility is on the rise — with the legal profession being no exception.

This growing trend is corrosive to the constitutional rights and liberties that underpin America’s free society.

The CBA has engaged in a number of programs this past year to advance the recognition and discussion of this topic, and there has been a tremendous response not only from our members but across Chicago’s legal community.

The CBA’s Young Lawyers Section recently produced a podcast on the topic titled “The Civility in Uncivil Times,” featuring guests from the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism and the Circuit Court of Cook County to discuss methods to shift the legal profession’s culture to one of greater respect and civility.

In addition, the CBA and the American Board of Trial Advocates-Illinois chapter presented a Continuing Legal Education program on civility in the law in November, which focused on promoting and elevating the standards of integrity, honor and courtesy in the legal profession.

The program was extremely well-attended and received tremendous feedback from attendees.

On May 14, we look forward to presenting an in-depth civility program which will feature former Gov. Jim Edgar as the keynote speaker during the CBA’s Membership Appreciation Week, which takes place May 13-17.

As we mark Law Day with a focus on the important liberties that shape our free society, it is a wonderful opportunity to recognize that the legal profession plays a very important role in society. Civility is a key component to the ethical and public service work that lawyers perform on behalf of their clients.

Members of the legal profession can play a huge role in turning this around as leaders in our communities, our courtrooms and boardrooms. Civility is the cornerstone of a free society without which no society can last.