CBF Works to Sway Hearts and Minds in Washington

Outside Supreme Court

In front of the Supreme Court building are CBF Executive Director Bob Glaves, ABA Director of the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section Mary Ann Peter, Chair of the ABA Law Student Division Matthew Kerbis, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride, and CBF Manager of Pro Bono & Advocacy Jessica Bednarz

Earlier this week, attorneys and staff members representing the CBA and CBF, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the American Bar Association traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in ABA Day, the ABA’s annual advocacy event in Washington. Each year, Congress considers legislation that impacts access to justice, the justice system and the legal profession. That’s why it’s vital that leaders in our legal community in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois participate in ABA Day each year, cutting through the noise of other special interests and educating Congress on important issues impacting access to justice for Illinois residents. Proudly representing the CBF were CBF President Bill Conlon, Executive Director Bob Glaves, and Manager of Pro Bono & Advocacy Jessica Bednarz.

This year our delegation met with counsel for both Illinois Senators and all but one Illinois Representative or legislative staff member (the only exception due to scheduling issues). We advocated on three important access to justice issues: Legal Services Corporation funding, comprehensive immigration reform, and public service loan forgiveness, as well as another significant issue impacting our profession: burdensome tax reform proposals that could negatively affect law firms and other personal service businesses. Several members of our group also were invited to attend a special White House Forum on Increasing Access to Justice on Tuesday afternoon, where an innovative pro bono program in Chicago led by LAF and DLA Piper was among those featured.

Quigley Award 2

Representative Mike Quigley (center) receives an ABA Justice Award. Left to right are ISBA President-Elect Richard Felice, ISBA President Paula Holderman, Past ABA President Laurel Bellows, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride, and CBF Manager of Pro Bono & Advocacy Jessica Bednarz.

On Wednesday evening, Congressman Mike Quigley was honored with the ABA Justice Award for his strong support and leadership on funding for the Judiciary, the Legal Services Corporation and the Federal Defender; comprehensive immigration reform; and other issues impacting the justice system. His acceptance speech was both inspiring and funny.

Day three led off with an Illinois constituent breakfast hosted by our two Senators Durbin and Kirk. Our delegation then stormed the Hill for the final time this week before heading back to Illinois.

Rep. Bustos Meeting

Meeting with Rep. Cheri Bustos (center) are LAF Board President Maja Eaton, and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride

Overall, this year’s trip was a great success for the CBF and for the many thousands of low-income and disadvantaged Illinois residents on whose behalf we advocate. Everyone had a great time, was inspired by the process, and was pleased to see firsthand that our Illinois congressional delegation overall is very supportive of our key issues.

To learn more about ABA Day or how you can get involved in CBF Advocacy work, please contact Jessica Bednarz at jbednarz@chicagobar.org or (312) 554-4952.