The Journal of The DuPage County Bar Association

Back Issues > Vol. 14 (2001-02)

The Roger K. O’Reilly Symposium on Civilty and Advocacy
Held August 1, 2001, Northern Illinois University
Introductory Remarks by Attorney General James Ryan

I want to thank the DuPage County Bar Association and Northern Illinois University for hosting this symposium. I am here because I have so much respect for the memory of Roger O’Reilly, but also as the Attorney General for the state, as the chief legal officer, I think civility in the courts is very, very important. I know you know this, but sometimes we need to be reminded: Being a good advocate, being an aggressive advocate, is not inconsistent with being civil to your opponent. I guess it is obvious to say this, but the legal profession is different from any other profession. Doctors and dentists and accountants and architects are not in an adversarial setting. We are. In order to do our job effectively, we have to be aggressive advocates representing our client’s interests. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t be gentlemen and that we can’t be civil to one another. Being a good lawyer is very important. Being a good person is even more important. Frankly, we advance our profession when we are civil to one another.

I’m honored to be here not only for what you are trying to accomplish through the DuPage County Bar Association and Northern Illinois University, but also to honor the memory of Roger O’Reilly as a role model. Roger practiced law for 40 years. I think most people would say he was one of the best civil trial lawyers, certainly in the county and one of the best in the state. He represented my family in a very, very difficult moment in my life. He was very gracious, very understanding. He was aggressive in court, but he was a gentleman. And I think if we are looking for a role model—someone that really got it—it was Roger O’Reilly.

We belong to an important profession, but it’s also important for us to be good people. We want not only be to good people, we want to make sure that our clients and the rest of the world understand what we do. We are often misunderstood, and that’s too bad. I compliment you on what you are doing, and I just want you to know that it is important to me, and I’m glad it is important to you. Thank you very much.

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