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March 2016 – Diversity Scholarship, IICLE, NWSBA Committees, High School Law Day

During the busy holiday season at the end of last year, my wife and I had the opportunity to attend the 2015 Unity Dinner & All-Bar Swearing in Ceremony and Reception. This annual dinner was hosted by the Diversity Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and was held at the Chicago Hilton’s Grand Ballroom. Second Vice President, Michael Rothmann, attended last year’s Unity Dinner and talked about what a wonderful event this Foundation put on each year. The DSF is a not-for-profit organization that provides scholarships to diverse and deserving law students. All bar presidents in attendance (well over 30) were introduced and sworn in by Chief Judge Timothy Evans on a very crowded stage. Mike Rothmann, my wife Carol, and I had the pleasure of sitting at dinner with one of this year’s very impressive scholarship recipients – Bianca C. Serrato. Ms. Serrato attended Rolling Meadows High School, and is now a 1L at Northwestern University Law School. Bianca is a bright young lady who speaks fluent Spanish, and has volunteered as a translator for Mexican doctors in the Yucatan and for under-represented persons needing assistance in the court system here. The photo shows Mike Rothmann, Carol and I with Ms. Serrato, who promised to come visit us at the NWSBA sometime soon.

Our new arrangement with IICLE to create online CLEs is off and running! In the past 30 days IICLE has recorded two of our live seminars – Estate Planning & Probate and Matrimonial Law. Both of these NWSBA recorded seminars will be available for sale soon both on IICLE’s website, and at a discounted rate to NWSBA members through our website. Watch the NWSBA Updates for more news on this exciting development.

The hard work of our substantive law committee chairs is starting to pay off. So far this fiscal year they have held 55% more monthly committee meetings than last year, and attendance at monthly committee meetings is also up 55%. Last month I enjoyed attending the monthly committee meeting of the Law Practice Management Committee, where a round table discussion about hiring of associates was lead by co-chair Jonathan Anderson. As you may know, Jon is the founder of Anderson & Associates, which focuses on Family Law and other consumer legal needs. With five offices and over 12 lawyers, Jon has hired many new graduate lawyers as well as associates with several years of experience over the past several years. I also picked up a few valuable tips, and made several changes to our office procedures after attending the civil litigation committee meeting last month. There, Joe Vito, formerly defense counsel to a major insurance company led a round table discussion of pre-trial and trial strategies in personal injury cases.

Also last month both myself and our parliamentarian (and associate attorney with our firm), Matthew “Matt” Hess had the opportunity to participate in High School Law Day. This consisted of a panel discussion by six attorneys from the Northwest Suburban Bar Association held at the Rolling Meadows Courthouse, and moderated by an attorney from the Law Office of Miriam Cooper, Kristin Flanagan. Along with Matt and I, the panel was past NWSBA president, Don Cosley, Dave Corbett, Kristin Flanagan, and Jennifer Howe. The panel of lawyers spoke with over 150 high school students interested in a career in law. The students were from HS Districts 214, 211, and Barrington High School. Each attorney on the panel gave their perspective on what it takes and what it is like to work as a lawyer in private practice. The student asked some pointed questions, like how much does a starting attorney make and how hard was the bar exam. The panelists gave the student audience a sense of the cost of going to law school today, and also stressed the importance of excelling in their studies, starting right now.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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