The Journal of The DuPage County Bar Association

President's Page

Another Edition of the DCBA Grief; Well, Isn’t That Special?
By Ted A. Donner

Since our Public Interest and Education Commission (“PIE”) was formed, now almost two years ago, its members have helped spearhead or develop a number of pro bono and public education programs. Some highlights include the work they did helping the courthouse staff develop an instructional video for working with self-represented litigants, developing a website for DuPage Legal Aid, the creation of a Veterans Assistance Program with DuPage Legal Aid and John Marshall, and Lawyers Lending a Hand’s recent participation in Lawyer Volunteer Week. As we celebrate Law Day, therefore, it seems a particularly good time to offer our thanks and a tip of the hat to the members of our PIE Commission. Their work has enabled us to collectively participate in a number of new public interest programs and has resulted in more comprehensive and constructive efforts in existing programs.

Among the various PIE initiatives this last year, most recently, the DCBA Board of Directors approved PIE’s developing an affiliation with the Public Interest Law Initiative (“PILI”). PILI is a not-for-profit group which has been focused on volunteerism among Illinois lawyers, law students and other legal professionals for some 40 years. It works with law firms, corporations, bar associations and other public interest groups to ensure that groups like DuPage Legal Aid have access to information, resources, and support to more effectively carry out their missions. In addition, PILI operates a Law Student Internship Program and a Graduate Fellowship Program through which it places law students and recent law school graduates at public interest law organizations, with PILI providing supplemental educational, networking and mentoring opportunities. As PILI Executive Director

Michael Bergmann explains, “In this last year, PILI made $260,000 in grants to support Law Student Interns across Illinois. PILI’s Alumni Network, made up of over 4,000 former Interns and Fellows, builds and maintains the connection between past PILI Interns and Fellows and the public interest law community through educational, networking, leadership and service opportunities.”

The PIE Commission’s role within the PILI network is described as that of an “Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee.” That means, in a nutshell, that the DCBA’s PIE Commission will continue to serve as a nexus for those involved in public interest and education work in DuPage County while also participating in a state-wide network of similar groups from other judicial circuits. According to Bergmann, “the Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees strive to achieve their goal of increasing pro bono within a specific judicial circuit by raising awareness of the need for free or low-cost legal services; identifying and reducing barriers to providing free or lowcost legal services; promoting pro bono legal services and recruiting attorneys to participate in existing pro bono programs; and recognizing the pro bono contributions of attorneys.” PILI started this effort a few years ago and is adding two circuits each year until a state-wide network has been established. Most of the Circuit Committees have taken awhile to develop because they require the participation of different courts, different bar associations and a range of public interest service providers. The committee for this judicial circuit has been inherently easier to develop because our PIE Commission is already similarly structured and focused on that same agenda.

Through the Commission’s affiliation with PILI, in turn, as issues involving pro se litigants and pro bono assistance continue to be a source of concern and debate in Illinois, our association will be at the forefront of the dialogue, ensuring that solutions are crafted in DuPage County that specifically serve the unique concerns of this community.

The PIE Commission’s participation in PILI’s Judicial Circuit program involves their attending an annual meeting with PILI here in DuPage County and participating in summits hosted by PILI once every year or so in Springfield. After Bergmann came to Wheaton for two introductory meetings with the full PIE Commission, this year for example, PIE Commission Chair Melissa Piwowar and Vice Chair Walt Jackowiec traveled to Springfield on March 15-16, 2017 to attend PILI’s 2017 Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee Summit. There, they participated in a dialogue with representatives of the existing Committees (from the Third, Fifth, Sixth, Tenth, Eleventh and Fourteenth Judicial Circuits) and with a number of other invited guests, including Dave M. Anderson, Executive Director, Illinois Bar Foundation, Lisa Colpoys, Executive Director, Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO), Leslie Corbett, Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, Clarissa Gaff and Susan Zielke, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Deborah Hagan, Chief, Consumer Protection Division, Office of the Illinois Attorney General, David T. Holtermann, General Counsel, Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, Honorable Lloyd A. Karmeier, Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, Brad Lane, President, PILI Board of Directors, and Samira Nazim, Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice. The purpose of the summit was to encourage involvement in public interest and education in Illinois and to discuss ways in which all concerned can learn from each other, helping everyone through whatever specific problems may be developing in their specific circuits or state-wide. The cost of the trip was covered by PILI, the benefits that came out of it were invaluable.

Ted A. Donner is the President of the DuPage County Bar Association. The owner of Donner & Company Law Offices LLC in Wheaton, Illinois, his practice is concentrated in commercial litigation and transactional work for small business. Recognized as DCBA’s Lawyer of the Year in 2011, he has been AV-Rated and recognized by Super Lawyers in each of the last ten years. He is an Adjunct Professor with Loyola University Chicago School of Law and the author of two treatises for Thomson Reuters (West), including Jury Selection: Strategy & Science and Attorneys Practice Guide to Negotiations.

DuPage County Bar Association

Ted A. Donner
Gerald A. Cassioppi
J. Matthew Pfeiffer
2nd Vice President
Stacey A. McCullough
3rd Vice President
James J. Laraia
Immediate Past President
Shawn S. Kasserman
General Counsel
Richard J. Veenstra
Assoc. Gen’ l Counsel
John A. Pleviak
Tricia Buhrfiend
Assist. Treasurer

Gregory P. Adamo
Terrence Benshoof
Mark S. Bishop
Ashley M. Bump
Patrick L. Edgerton
David S. Friedland
James S. Harkness
Wendy M. Musielak
John J. Pcolinski, Jr.
Amalia M. Romano
Arthur W. Rummler

Executive Director
Robert Rupp
ISBA Liaison
Kent A. Gaertner

Legislative Liaison

A. John Pankau, Jr.

Brief Editor

James L. Ryan
DCBA Brief