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Seizing Opportunities During Challenging Times


By Wendy M. Musielak

When 2020 began, we all were accustomed to meeting people in person and not even remotely thinking about how we would need to handle a “remote” world. Then, suddenly, courthouses were limiting our ability to appear in person. Along with the restrictions that existed at the courthouse, we found offices closing or significantly limiting in-person meetings to protect their employees from COVID-19. While in-person contact was suddenly limited, our need and obligation to meet the needs of clients as lawyers and our members of the DCBA remained. But there was one big question – how were we going to meet that need? 

At my firm, we bought webcams and added services to allow us to continue to meet with clients remotely from our homes and our office. Days were suddenly filled with video meetings trying to remain connected to our clients while they were facing such uncertainty. What we learned is that we can do this. There are methods to remain connected and keep in touch with people from a distance. We may have been thrust into this Zoom world unexpectedly, but we are now all learning the necessary skills to navigate our new legal world. Video conferencing is here to stay. Meetings can be handled with people in other states without figuring out travel arrangements and worrying about weather-related delays (we do live in Illinois). Court can continue, albeit differently, with us logging in from our offices or homes to advocate for our clients. 

For the DCBA, one of the cornerstones of our organization has been offering quality continuing legal education to our members. Almost every day, you could go to the Attorney Resource Center and find one of our Sections offering topnotch MCLE. But, beginning in March, that was no longer an option and we found ourselves looking for answers to how we could continue to service the needs of our members from afar. Continuing Education Manager, Barb Mendralla, Executive Director, Robert Rupp and all the DCBA staff immediately met the challenge by offering online MCLE through Zoom. Suddenly, members could be at home or at their office and still get the quality MCLE that the DCBA has always been known to offer. We may not have planned it and we may not have wanted to be there right now, but because of the world’s circumstances, the DCBA is now better equipped to meet members’ needs from afar forever. We will always be able to simulcast an in-person MCLE with members live and members at their offices. Instead of limiting programs to the number of seats that are available (and now less with social distancing rules), we will be able to have more members participate in the MCLE from the comfort of their homes or offices. In fact, the number of attendees at our MCLEs has increased because of the convenience of being online. 

All our Section leaders have stepped up and have been creatively working to continue to support the DCBA. Our Family Law Section Chair, Vicki Kelly and Vice Chair, Rebecca Krawczykowski implemented a weekly newsletter to keep our members informed of changes in the court’s procedures and new information. These newsletters are just the tip of the iceberg of what our amazing leaders are doing to support the DCBA and its members. 

Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” Certainly COVID-19 has caused many difficulties for everyone. But within those difficulties are opportunities for us to grow as individuals and as an organization. Recently, the DCBA Board of Directors met for our Annual Board Retreat. For the first time, the focus was on how we handle this “remote” world. As we worked together, many ideas were developed as a team. As an organization, we are working to create an App for our phones to make information more readily available for all our members. We are looking at safe social events that meet CDC guidelines, but allow us to remain connected as a community both in person and virtually. We are looking at ways to celebrate the holiday season without the traditional holiday party. We are looking for ways that we can continue giving back to the community. This year will not be traditional, but as our discussion about the upcoming year evolved, I saw the commitment of each of our Board Members to work together to continue to support our organization and members. I am honored to be working with such an amazing team and as I said during my installation speech and my first DCBA Brief column, “Together We Are Stronger” and together we will seize these opportunities to grow the DCBA over the next year. 


DCBA President, Wendy M. Musielak is a Partner at Esp Kreuzer Cores LLP in Wheaton, where she concentrates her practice in family law. She graduated with highest honors from DePaul University College of Commerce with her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Management in 1999 and earned her J.D. from DePaul University’s College of Law in 2003. In 2015, Wendy was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. Wendy was recognized as the DCBA Lawyer of the Year in 2013. 

 

DuPage County Bar Association

2020-2021 OFFICERS

Wendy M. Musielak, President
Kiley M. Whitty, President-Elect
Angel M. Traub, 2nd Vice President
Richard J. Veenstra, 3rd Vice President
Stacey , A. McCullough, Immediate Past President
James J. Laraia, General Counsel
Jennifer L. Friedland, Assoc. Gen’l Counsel
Aaron E. Ruswick, Secretary/Treasurer
DeAnna C. Rosinski, Assist. Treasurer
 

DIRECTORS

Mark S. Bishop
Patrick L. Edgerton
James S. Harkness
Rebecca A. Krawczykowski
Ronald D. Menna, Jr.
Karen R. Mills
John J. Pcolinski, Jr.
Jay M. Reese
Arthur W. Rummler
Alissa C. Verson
Amanda M. Zannoni

Executive Director

Robert T. Rupp

ISBA Liaison

Kent A. Gaertner

Brief Editor

Dexter J. Evans