October 05, 2009

 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.




About Jerold S. Solovy
Jerold S. Solovy, Chairman Emeritus of Jenner & Block LLP, is widely regarded as one of the preeminent trial lawyers in the country.  He has been repeatedly recognized for his career-long advocacy of equal rights for all and for his efforts to ensure the effective administration of justice in society. Among his many honors and awards, he was a 2007 recipient of The American Lawyer magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award and in that same year, he was honored as Chicago Lawyer’s Person of the Year.  Solovy also has been praised for his career-long commitment to pro bono representation and public service, in particular for his groundbreaking efforts as a leader in the movement for court reform in Chicago and Illinois. In 2005, he received the American Bar Association Section of Litigation’s prestigious John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award.  For Solovy’s complete bio, please visit:  www.jenner.com/jsolovy.

About Justice Shelvin Louise Marie Hall
Justice Shelvin Louise Marie Hall, Presiding Justice for the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, First Division, is widely respected as a leading member of the judiciary and as a tireless advocate for diversity.  From her earliest work at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, to founding the first all-black, all-female law firm in the country, to being the first woman judge on the Executive Committee of the Illinois Judicial Conference, Justice Hall has consistently embodied the legal profession’s highest ideals.  Justice Hall is the former Chairperson of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association and the former National Vice President of the National Bar Association, and she also served as Chair of the Illinois Judicial Council, President of the Houston Lawyers Association and Vice President of the Cook County Bar Association.  She has been repeatedly honored for her accomplishments by a range of local and national organizations, and she recently received the Liberty Achievement Award from the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section. For Justice Hall’s complete bio, please visit: http://www.state.il.us/court/AppellateCourt/Judges/Bio_Hall.asp.

About William A. Von Hoene, Jr.
William A. Von Hoene, Jr., Executive Vice President of Finance and Legal at Exelon Corporation, has been nationally recognized as a leader in addressing diversity within the corporate counsel community, as well as for his career-long devotion to pro bono representation of those in need.  At Exelon, one of the nation’s largest public utilities and the owner of the largest fleet of nuclear plants in the country, he is responsible for the finance, legal, communications and public affairs, audit and controls, and strategy departments, and he has spearheaded numerous successful diversity and community service initiatives within the organization.  Most recently, Von Hoene was honored with the 2009 Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, and was named by the National Law Journal as one of the 20 most influential general counsel in the country. For Von Hoene’s complete bio, please visit: http://www.exeloncorp.com/aboutus/management/#VonHoene.