In November I had the wonderful opportunity to accompany my wife on a trip to Ireland. She is Associate General Counsel and an officer in a large corporation headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois and the trip was the annual meeting of all of its lawyers throughout the world; I was one of the "corporate wives" for the week. Last name notwithstanding, it was a chance for me to meet some of my extended family and to get reacquainted with a friend whom I met during my first year of law school. What a great time.
I also had the opportunity to tour the "Four Courts" Building in Dublin, which is named after the four individual courts in the Irish legal system. While waiting to meet my barrister guide (the brother of my friend), I was drawn into conversation with a woman who was complaining about a variety of perceived injustices wrought by the Irish courts. It was apparent that she was a "regular" in the court building. Her complaints were not any different than one hears from the "regulars" in any courthouse here in the U.S. and, even accounting for the differences in their system from ours, it was clear that the complaints were based upon fundamental misunderstandings of how the legal system works and should work as opposed to any actual injustice which had occurred. What struck me the most about her, and the theme carries over to world politics and our legal system, was that her faith in her government was undermined because she had not been properly educated as to how fairly the system works and the good it does.
The Chicago Tribune ran an article on December 5, 2005 examining the phenomenon of heated judicial recall campaigns arising out of public frustration with the legal system fomented by one-issue interest groups. In Washington D.C. this month, the Senate will make a lot of noise during the confirmation hearings for Justice Alito with little heed paid by some as to the total picture or the accuracy of what some senators and commentators suggest. As lawyers, we should make sure to take every opportunity to truly educate the public as to the total picture of how the system works fairly and eschew the temptation to blame poor results on "incompetent judges". If we don’t, we risk the very real possibility that the rules will change and not for the better.
This month we have articles on recent changes to the Business Corporations Act of 1983, law and the music business, estate planning updates, an interview with our new Chief Judge and the reminiscences of a true ham. As always, we could not have published this edition without the help of our Publication Board, staff and desktop publisher. Thanks to all. I also want to thank this month’s Lead Articles Editor Bill Knee.
On behalf of the Publication Board, I want to wish you all a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.
John Pcolinski, Jr., Editor