We All “Win” When We Work Together
By James L. Ryan
Recently, I read a blog article by a Washington DC lawyer which began “Collaboration as applied to lawyers is like “student athlete” to big-time college football and basketball players: more feel-good myth than reality. Because lawyers – like elite athletes – have been taught that competition yields winners and losers; theirs is a zero sum game. Yes, there are teams/firms, and one is encouraged to be a good teammate/colleague, but star ballers become pros just as top lawyers are paid like them.” This lawyer had excellent credentials with stints as a federal prosecutor, partner at a large law firm, and in-house counsel at a major company, but his observations about the legal practice astounded me in its cynicism.
My experience practicing mainly in DuPage County has not been that way. I don’t think that the practice of law is a zero-sum game with only winners and losers. We are fortunate at the DCBA to have members who believe in collaboration and in working together. President Kennedy often remarked that a rising tide lifts all boats. As the editor of this magazine, I am consistently amazed at our membership’s efforts to collaborate with each other and to “raise the tide” on the delivery of legal services to our community.
This collaborative spirit is on full display in this issue. It begins with a wonderful letter that I received from Grant Eckhoff memorializing the late Terry Mullen. Although Terry passed away a few years ago, his legacy of professionalism, collegiality, and cooperation continues to permeate throughout our bar association and our culture. Our President’s Page contains a guest column from Patricia Lee Refo, the Immediate Past Chair of the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates showing the ways the DCBA collaborates with the broader legal community. We continue our efforts to highlight the collaboration DCBA enjoys with our area’s law schools by including a piece on DePaul’s Public Service Program. Just as we collaborate with those outside our ranks, we also collaborate within our ranks. This month, we introduce a new 101 Series aimed at providing new members with an opportunity to “learn the ropes” of various practice areas and we also introduce one of our newest judges, the Hon. Bryan S. Chapman, with a biographical profile.
On the articles side, we showcase the excellent collaboration our editorial board has with the substantive law sections within the DCBA. Jane Nagle served as our articles editor for this issue and gave the articles a family law theme. Lisa Demonte provided us a summary of the Illinois putative spouse statute. Megan Harris gave us her thoughts on Motions to Strike directed against claims for dissipation. Andrea Kmak went through the latest revisions to the Illinois Child Support statute and explored the meaning of “income for child support purposes”. Lastly, Danya Gruynk and her excellent team at the Gruynk Family Law firm served as editors for the case law updates. Special thanks to Jane and her excellent authors for their contributions!
We also have a new member to the editorial board team to introduce to you. Joe Nichele joins us from the Broida-Nichele law firm in Naperville and concentrates his practice in family law, employment litigation, and commercial litigation. He is a 2005 graduate of Valparaiso Law School where he was associate editor of the Valparaiso Law Review. This
past September, Joe won the Lincoln Award from the Illinois Bar Journal with his piece “The Shield Turned Into a Sword: A Plaintiff’s Perspective of Negligent Spoilation of Evidence Claims After Martin v. Keeley & Sons, Inc.” We look forward to adding Joe to our excellent team.
Perhaps it is our culture that encourages collaboration as opposed to one that views the world as a competition with only winners and losers. We have all been involved in matters in which there were no “winners”, and we have also all been involved in matters in which everyone “won” something and felt at the end that justice had been done. Regardless, I think we are at our best when we encourage each other, educate one another, and “win” together.
Jim Ryan is an associate at the law firm of Roberts & Caruso in Wheaton. He focuses his practice primarily on contested probate, business litigation, and construction law. Jim serves as a member of the DuPage County Bar Association’s Civil Law & Practice Committee, Business Law Committee and Estate Planning Committee. He is also a member of the federal trial bar.