The Journal of The DuPage County Bar Association

President's Page

Interesting Times
By Gerald Cassioppi

“May you live in interesting times.” Whether seen as a blessing or curse, I think it safe to say we find ourselves in such times. Through the sixties, I observed what seemed to be a blur of constant social and politically impactful events that even at my young age were impressionable. And today there seems to be even more stress, and wide differences of thoughts and opinions in our socio-economic and political fabric.

On behalf of our members, DCBA has an absolute duty to stay relevant in these times. As similarly referenced by other bar associations both formally and informally,1 the DCBA can be part the political and social process as appropriate. However, we are not a political organization. Our primary mission does not support our being overly engaged in social issues and we are called to stand above partisan dissension and demonstrate a better way. Our members can and should have opinions, but there are numerous other organizations that include political advocacy as their primary purpose.

DCBA should engage in a way that respects the organization’s Mission. Principles of law tend to have a much longer life cycle than the issue of the day. Though our profession certainly supports an adversarial approach, we need to rise above the fray and encourage professional and respectful debate. Further, we are in a perfect position to provide such a forum and should. It is also important to remember that the DCBA has members of many political parties, as most join this organization not based on ideology, but rather profession.

We must remember that the DCBA is funded primarily by member dues, supported by voluntary efforts and our members are part of the legal profession. Per our Mission, the DCBA exists to benefit and serve the legal profession, judiciary and the public, by providing legal education and networking opportunities and by offering the public an enhanced understanding and respect for the law – all done “while upholding the highest degree of civility and professionalism.”

Over 2,600 DCBA members cannot be told how to think or act on emotionally charged, political, legal, and social debates. The issue facing many bar associations, as referenced in the cited article, is whether and when to enter into a debate about public policy, and still be viewed as a professional, impartial organization and further, not risk alienating significant numbers of its members.2 So practically, where are the lines drawn for an association based on its guiding principles?

For most bar associations, including the DCBA, advocacy is secondary to program administration to benefit the bar and the public. However, if appropriate, through its resources – technical expertise, money, prestige, and professional connections – the DCBA and its members, individually and as a cohesive bloc, can wield considerable and successful influence.

When determining whether to take a position on a matter of political or public policy, general DCBA considerations align with others3 and would be: how the practice of law is impacted; how the effectiveness or accessibility of the legal system is impacted; how legal training assists in understanding the issue; and how such action might impact the association’s effectiveness or its membership. By thoughtful, transparent and good faith consideration, the DCBA can maintain its reputation as non-partisan and maximize its effectiveness.

DCBA members can recognize that this balanced approach, consistent with our Mission and allowing for a diversity of viewpoints will permit our organization to continue through many more ”interesting times.”

1. Illinois State Bar Association Policy on Participation as Amicus Curiae, Adopted, Illinois State Bar Association Board of Governors, January 25, 2002; The Role of Bar Associations in Advocating for Public Policy Change, The Hennepin Lawyer, Greg Simpson, published by the Hennepin County Bar Association, September, 2012, pp. 4-
2. The Role of Bar Associations in Advocating for Public Policy Change, The Hennepin Lawyer, Greg Simpson, published by the Hennepin County Bar  ssociation, September, 2012, P. 7
3. The Role of Bar Associations in Advocating for Public Policy Change, The Hennepin Lawyer, Greg Simpson, published by the Hennepin County Bar Association, September, 2012, pp. 8-9 ; Illinois State Bar Association Policy on Participation as Amicus Curiae, Adopted, Illinois State Bar Association Board of Governors, January 25, 2002

Gerald Cassioppi is the current DCBA President and is a Partner with Momkus McCluskey Roberts LLC, in Lisle. He counsels businesses, not-for-profits and government entities. He received his law and undergraduate degrees from the University of Illinois, is also a CPA and is active in community leadership, including the Naperville District 203 School Board and as DuPage County Ethics Commission Chairman. Gerry was recognized as DCBA Lawyer of the Year for 2012 and also served as DCBA General Counsel and on its Board of Directors.


DuPage County Bar Association

OFFICERS

Gerald A. Cassioppi

President
J. Matthew Pfeiffer
President-Elect
Stacey A. McCullough
2nd Vice President
Wendy M. Musielak
3rd Vice President
Ted A. Donner
Immediate Past President
Richard J. Veenstra
General Counsel
Charles G. Wentworth
Assoc. Gen’ l Counsel
Tricia Buhrfiend
Secretary/Treasurer
Jeffrey M. Jacobson
Assist. Treasurer


DIRECTORS

Terrence Benshoof
Mark S. Bishop
Ashley M. Bump
Patrick L. Edgerton
David S. Friedland
James S. Harkness
John J. Pcolinski, Jr.
Amalia M. Romano
Arthur W. Rummler
James L. Ryan
Kiley M. Whitty

Executive Director
Robert T. Rupp

 
ISBA Liaison
Kent A. Gaertner


Legislative Liaison

A. John Pankau, Jr.


Brief Editor

Azam Nizamuddin
 
 
DCBA Brief