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Cynthia Fountaine is a professor of law at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, where she focuses on issues relating to the powers of government and access to justice, with particular emphasis on the federal courts’ role in enforcing individual rights. She was appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism in 2014. Why did you want to become a lawyer? I wanted to be a lawyer since I was pretty young—in high school or maybe even before that. I wanted a career in which I could make a difference, and I grew up observing the power of law…
When Jesse Ruiz was sworn in as Chicago Bar Association (CBA) president in June 2019, he said his primary focus was investing in the future. To combat declining membership in professional associations nationally, Ruiz said that through career advancement and educational opportunities, the CBA must be “indispensable to our members by preparing them for the future.” Ruiz, the son of an undocumented immigrant, also wants to make the CBA “a kind of focal point for other diverse groups.” During his tenure, he will focus on collaboration with diverse bar associations and prioritize advancing diversity on the bench. We caught up…
Steve Fus is a pro bono attorney and legal advisor. He formerly served as Associate General Counsel for United Airlines, Inc. What’s your primary practice area? What drew you to this area? I’ve been fortunate during my 30-year career at United [Airlines] to have practiced in several different practice areas. Most recently, I oversaw international, regulatory, alliances, environmental, health and safety. I’ve always loved aviation and spent virtually all of my career working for an airline. After obtaining Federal Aviation Administration certifications as an aircraft mechanic and pilot, I started my career as an airline mechanic. I wanted to advance and learned that I could leverage my experience, with additional education,…
Steven Fus is a pro bono attorney and legal advisor. He formerly served as an Associate General Counsel for United Airlines, Inc. What’s your primary practice area? What drew you to this area? I’ve been fortunate during my 30-year career at United [Airlines] to have practiced in several different practice areas. Most recently, I oversaw international, regulatory, alliances, environmental, health and safety. I’ve always loved aviation and spent virtually all of my career working for an airline. After obtaining Federal Aviation Administration certifications as an aircraft mechanic and pilot, I started my career as an airline mechanic. I wanted to advance and learned that I could leverage my experience, with additional…
Erika Harold is a litigation attorney at Meyer Capel, P.C. in Champaign, Illinois, where she handles complex commercial litigation matters and disputes involving wills, estates and trusts. She has served on the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism since 2017. Why did you want to become a lawyer? When I was in high school, I was the victim of racial and sexual harassment and ultimately had to transfer to a different school because of the hostile environment that had been created. After leaving the school, I explored various forms of legal recourse. However, lawyers explained to me that the case law…
John Gallo serves as the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director of Legal Aid Chicago. He’s based in Chicago. How has your practice evolved over the last few years? Quite a bit. From 1996 to 2017, I was a partner at Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago. I was Co-Chair of Sidley’s White Collar Practice from 2010 to 2017, and Head of Litigation in Sidley’s Chicago Office from 2014 to 2017. While at Sidley, my practice had two areas of focus. First, I represented institutional clients in circumstances where the client discovered actual or alleged internal wrongdoing. I led and conducted confidential internal investigations for those…
Eileen Letts is a Chicago-based equity partner at Zuber, Lawler & Del Duca LLP where she specializes in personal injury law. What drew you to personal injury law? I started practicing personal injury defense work when I was with the City of Chicago. I enjoyed it and have continued to practice in the area ever since. How has your practice evolved over the last few years? [I] have been involved in more mediations/arbitrations to resolve cases before trial. From your perspective, how can lawyers adapt to the changing legal profession? We have to adapt to the practice now being 24/7.…
Each year, Illinois law schools welcome hundreds of new students to the legal profession. The Commission on Professionalism is privileged to once again facilitate a professionalism orientation for incoming students at each of Illinois’s nine law schools. The professionalism orientation is designed to introduce first-year law students to the core concepts of attorney professionalism. The orientations are held in conjunction with broader law school orientation activities. 2019 marks the 13th year that the Commission has led the program. At each orientation, judges and justices from across Illinois deliver remarks reflecting on the importance of civility and professionalism in the law.…
Angel Wawrzynek is an associate at Tapella & Eberspacher LLC in Charleston, Illinois, where she focuses on estate planning, trust and estate administration, and guardianships. How has your practice evolved over the last few years? As part of representing personal injury clients for years, I regularly had to open estates and guardianships. Ultimately, as I learned more about that area of law, I found myself drawn to the puzzle of crafting individualized estate plans, which is now the focus of my practice. How can lawyers adapt to the changing legal profession? We lawyers need to remain open to new methods of…
I’m a Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Skadden. I’ve always been involved with diversity and inclusion (D&I), but after graduating from law school, I litigated for 7 1/2 years. I worked at both a boutique and a mid-size firm where I focused on premises and product liability work. I also had the opportunity to serve as Assistant General Counsel to Governor Bruce Rauner, where I oversaw all legal issues pertaining to child welfare, public safety and education, as well as his clemency process. I also currently sit on the state’s Executive Ethics Commission. How has your practice evolved in…
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to announce the appointment of Dan Davies as Education Manager. Mr. Davies will manage the Commission’s educational programming aimed at promoting a more professional, civil and inclusive legal profession. “We’re thrilled to welcome Dan to the Commission,” said Jayne Reardon, Executive Director of the Commission on Professionalism. “Dan brings to the Commission a strong background in eLearning and instructional design. He has led the development of workplace learning solutions across multiple industries including technology, finance and nonprofit. We look forward to leveraging Dan’s passion and expertise to continue to deliver superior…
Justice David Cerda shares the unique trajectory of his groundbreaking legal career. Born in Chicago to immigrants who fled the Mexican Revolution, Justice Cerda was the first person in his family to graduate from high school. After a brief stint in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II, three Navy buddies convinced Justice Cerda to attend college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He went on to become one of two Latino students in his J.D. class at DePaul University College of Law, the first Latino judge in Illinois and the first Latino to be named…
Since I graduated from law school in 2012, I’ve made a point to travel across the country and put my law license and Juris Doctor to work. This June I moved home (Benton, Illinois) to work for the Federal Public Defender for the Southern District of Illinois. Before moving home, I was in Tallahassee, Florida, working on capital habeas cases. Prior to Tallahassee, I had the amazing opportunity to move to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to clerk for Judge Harris L. Hartz of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. However, the two positions that I feel first…