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December 2015 – Happy Holidays and Practicing Law

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

A GOOD TIME TO TAKE A BREATH, AND GIVE THANKS FOR THE MANY GIFTS WE ALL ENJOY PRACTICING LAW IN THE NORTHWEST SUBURBS

I am grateful this year for the many Board members and committee chairs who have volunteered their time and energy to help make the NWSBA projects and events so far this fiscal year very successful. I am also thankful for the diligent work of our dedicated staff: Julie, Linda, and Paula, and for the loyal support of our sponsors.

For all of us, the Holiday season is a perfect time to take a break from our regular work routine, count our blessings, and spend some time with family and good friends. Please join your NWSBA friends to celebrate the Holiday Season at our upcoming Holiday Party on Wednesday December 16th at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Arlington Heights. Those of you who attended last year’s Holiday Party will remember that this is a very cool venue in the lower level of Cooper’s Hawk, which resembles a wine cellar. Our Holiday Party committee chairs, Janet Maxwell-Wickett and Nichole Waltz, and committee member, Lenore Franckowiak, have planned a festive evening for us on the 16th. We will be honoring several special guests, and supporting the local charitable cause – Be Healthy, Stay Healthy. This is a community service program operated by the Northwest Community Hospital Foundation that conducts over 1,000 annual on-site nursing and social work visits to more than 300 local low-income senior citizens. Also, don’t forget the Matrimonial Law Committee Holiday Party on December 9th, at Westwood Tavern.

OUT AND ABOUT TOWN REPRESENTING OUR ASSOCIATION

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of attending several law/bar related dinners, representing the NWSBA. A few weeks ago, I attended the Jewish Judges’ Association annual dinner. Being neither judge, nor Jewish, I was thinking I might be a little out of place. But NWSBA past president, Judge Lauren Edidin, who MC’ed this awesome event, couldn’t have been more gracious. Judge Ediden introduced me to many of her friends, and I got a chance to chat with Chief Judge Evans, as well as the incoming president of the Jewish Judges’ Assoc., Judge Shelley Sutker-Dermer. (Check out our photo on Facebook!)

My wife Carol and I, along with Nichole Waltz, her husband Kevin, Mike Rothmann, along with too many Kelleys to mention, recently attended the Lawyers Assistance Program’s (LAP) annual dinner. Immediate past president, Bill Kelley, and the NWSBA were presented with the Michael J. Howlett, Jr. award for helping to spread the word about LAP’s services last year by regularly publishing articles by LAP in Newsbriefs. While at the LAP dinner, I had the opportunity to talk with Justice Warren Wolfson, who reminded me of the great works of another NWSBA past president, James Driscoll, whose brother, Jack Driscoll is one of my good friends and mentors. Justice Wolfson told me about the early days of LAP, which was started in 1980 by Justice Wolfson, James Driscoll and a few other concerned lawyers and judges. LAP helps lawyers, judges, and law students impaired by alcohol, substance abuse, or other mental health issues. LAP’s services are completely confidential.

Past presidents James Driscoll and Judge Lauren Edidin both represent part of our proud NWSBA history. Now, of course our challenge is to be relevant and of service to today’s practitioners. Our committee chairs have been hard at work this year strengthening their substantive law committees in order to provide greater educational, networking and mentoring opportunities for all of our members. For all of you young/ new lawyers in particular, all of the substantive law committees have several seasoned veteran lawyers who are happy to share their knowledge and experience – all you have to do is go to a committee meeting and ask. One such committee is the criminal law committee, which is chaired by Matt Fakhoury, Tom Moran, Charles Adler, and Moe Ahmad. The newest of those chairs, Moe Ahmad, is spearheading a move to hold regular monthly committee meetings of the criminal law committee, which has not been done for some time. And, we now have 8 substantive law committees which are holding regular monthly committee meetings – so please look at the schedule published in Newsbriefs and take advantage of this free member benefit, and check out a committee meeting or two each month.

PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE

As the leadership of the NWSBA, although we are primarily focused on delivering quality member benefits to today’s members, we are also working to prepare our association for the future. In part, I believe that means adding more younger lawyers to our group, and getting them actively involved in our committees, programs and events. We are taking steps now to make this recruitment process more efficient and effective. When you talk to a lawyer who is a potential new member, all you have to do is get their contact information (their area of practice and any other personal information is helpful too), and send that info to our administrative and membership coordinator, Linda Hamann at [email protected], or call Linda at (847)221-2601. Linda will contact the prospective member and hopefully facilitate their joining our membership.

Our association currently has about 535 members, 77% of which are over the age of 40. Can you imagine how the dynamic of this organization would change if within the next few years we added 200 new members, many under the age of 40? I think it would be a change for the better, and help prepare us for a bright future. Last year, under Bill Kelley’s leadership, we reduced membership dues for new lawyers practicing less than 4 years. The first year is FREE, the second year is $40, and the next 2 are a great bargain too. Over the past several years, we have made progress in lowering our average member demographic. In 2008, only 32% of our members were under the age of 50. Today 38% of our membership is younger than 50. In order to continue this trend, please invite every young/new lawyer you know who lives or works in the northwest suburbs to check us out!

On a personal note, our family traveled to the Caribbean last month to celebrate my son Kevin’s wedding. Kevin and Jamie (Allen) were married on November 8th on the island of St. Lucia. St. Lucia made a beautiful setting for a wonderful wedding of a fantastic couple. Happy Holidays to all of our members, staff, and to all our loyal sponsors as well!

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Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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