The Women’s Bar Association of Illinois is one of the oldest and largest bar associations in the state of Illinois. It was first established in 1914 by nine women lawyers practicing in the Chicago metropolitan area.
It was founded to promote the interests and welfare of female lawyers and also to aid in the enactment of legislation for the common good and the administration of justice. Its activities have always been divided between social and political issues and the practical need to help its members gain employment.
The WBAI was one of the first minority bar associations to extend its membership to males.
It has been both a privilege and honor to lead the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois. My theme this year is “The Opportunity to Promote, The Ability to Advance.” As I reflect upon my year, I have strived to serve the members of our organization and our community and to create an environment for growth.
In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared May 1 as Law Day. This day is meant to reflect on the role of law in the foundation of our country and to recognize its importance for our society. Since 1914, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois has been supporting women attorneys to exercise their freedom and to advance themselves.
This past year, our organization honored four incredibly accomplished women at our Top Women’s Lawyers in Leadership event in the fall. The distinguished group of women who were honorees are trailblazers. The award recipients included Felicia Frazier, Debra Nahrstadt, Nancy Paridy and Catherine Reiter.
At our annual judicial reception, we recognized and honored four accomplished judges from our judiciary system. The honorees included former judge Russell E. Hartigan, Chief Supreme Court Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier, Appellate Justice Joy V. Cunningham and U.S. District Judge Ilana D. Rovner.
Law Day is important because it allows us to reflect on the concept of separation of powers, the system of checks and balances in our legislative, executive and judicial branches and to reflect on our governmental structure and the protections it provides our citizens.
It is important that we as lawyers, judges and elected officials continue to reflect on the issues that face our society today and continue to support the freedoms that we have been afforded.
As president of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, I have worked hard to ensure that the members of our organization have a forum in which to speak and grow.
I encourage our members and the entire legal community to continue to support each other, promote each other and advance each other.