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Leaders of Major Bar Associations Celebrate Common Goals and Diversity at Seventh Annual Unity Dinner

Event to Honor Solovy, Hall and Von Hoene for Lifelong Commitment to Diversity


CHICAGO (Oct. 5, 2009) -- More than 50 new presidents of local and regional Illinois bar groups will meet for a symbolic swearing-in ceremony to commemorate their common goals and celebrate the Illinois legal community's commitment to diversity at the seventh annual Unity Dinner, being held on Thursday, October 8, at the Grand Ballroom at The Hilton Towers, 720 South Michigan Avenue.

The event, titled "2009 Unity Dinner: Embracing Diversity and Leading by Example," and co-hosted by the Filipino American Bar Association and The John Marshall Law School, and will bring together in one room scores of officers and members of participating bar associations, members of the judiciary, lawyers, and deans and faculty members of Chicago-area law schools.  Proceeds from the event will benefit the Diversity Scholarship Foundation, which fosters diversity in the legal profession through scholarships and grants for law students. 

"This one-of-a-kind event unites leaders of the legal profession who are unwavering in their commitment to making the Chicago legal community the most diverse in the country," said Jessica A. O'Brien, Chair of the event's planning committee and Special Assistant Attorney General at the Illinois Department of Revenue.

Three Local Legal Pros Honored

At the event, Jerold S. Solovy, Chairman Emeritus of Jenner & Block LLP, will be honored with the 2009 Unity Award.  The 2009 Advocate for Diversity Award will be presented to Justice Shelvin Louise Marie Hall, Presiding Justice for the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, First Division, and William A. Von Hoene, Jr., Executive Vice President, Finance and Legal at Exelon Corporation.  Please see below for biographies of the honorees.

"Jerry Solovy, Justice Hall, and Bill Von Hoene throughout their careers have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to diversity, justice and civil rights," said O'Brien, who is also President of the Diversity Scholarship Foundation.  "We are pleased to recognize their groundbreaking accomplishments at this year's Unity Dinner."
The bar presidents will be sworn in by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke, a recipient of the 2006 Unity Award who has consistently supported this event and actively promoted diversity in the legal community.  Veteran journalist and nationally known media personality Bill Kurtis will serve as the master of ceremonies. 

Proceeds of the event benefit the Diversity Scholarship Foundation, a not-for-profit organization established by judges and lawyers dedicated to assure that law school student bodies and the legal community be diverse, and that underprivileged and underrepresented minorities be able to attend law school through scholarships, grants and/or loans. 

In addition, the Foundation supports diversity initiatives by participating bar groups.  This year, the Foundation selected five initiatives to support: a judicial externship supported by the Illinois Judicial Foundation; high school court tours hosted by the Women Everywhere: Partners in Service Project; the Road to the Robe Bootcamp to be presented by the Illinois Judicial Council; the mentorship program offered by the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois; and the Women of Color Open Forum planned by the Women's Bar Association of Illinois. 

Jenner & Block LLP is a Diversity Program Sponsor; Exelon Corporation, DLA Piper, Clifford Law Offices, and Winston & Strawn LLP are Platinum Sponsors; Barclays Bank PLC, Goldman Sachs and McDermott Will & Emery are Gold Sponsors; West, a Thomson Reuters business, is a Silver Sponsor; and Laner Muchin Dombrow Becker Levin and Tominberg, Ltd., and Pedersen & Houpt are Bronze Sponsors of the event.