The following column by ITLA President J. Matthew Dudley appeared in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin on Thursday, June 17, 2021.
New ITLA president charts course for term
Initially, I want to express how honored I am to have the privilege of serving as president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. Our organization has a long history of protecting the legal rights of those individuals and families who have been harmed by negligent conduct.
The global pandemic has showed us all, in harrowing fashion, how vulnerable we all are to events that we simply have little ability to control. It is only through the collective vigilance of our citizens that we are nearing the end of this awful period. The shared sacrifices of social distancing, masking, and now vaccinations, are allowing us to get back to “normal.”
We have witnessed our state without a fully functioning civil justice system due to the pandemic. Regrettably, some interested parties have used the absence of jury trials to simply avoid and delay resolution of meritorious cases. My primary goal as ITLA president is to assist both bench and bar in any way possible to achieve the rapid and safe resumption of jury trials throughout our state.
I want to integrate with the lawyers and firms who represent many of the new legal specialties of our time. The shared goal is the protection of individuals from powerful and well entrenched groups and organizations. These issues range from individual privacy rights violated and abused by large tech and social media groups, to the victims of gun violence and maliciously marketed opioid medications.
I will continue the progress of my predecessors by expanding on the diversity within our association. Our Women’s Caucus has become one of our greatest assets. Whether mentoring to younger (and older) lawyers, strengthening legislative relationships, or providing valuable insight, it is now the fastest growing caucus within our organization.
ITLA’s Minority Caucus is likewise rapidly expanding and provides a perspective which we, unfortunately, lacked at times in the past. Our greatest strength has become the breadth of life experiences of our membership which allows ITLA to better understand the issues facing all our clients and their families.
During this time of recovery from the pandemic, I will work with the judiciary and other bar association leaders to ensure a prompt and efficient return to a working civil justice system. The individuals and families the members of our association represent have born the burden of having no real access to the courthouse over the last year, and I will do all I can to correct that inequity as soon as practical.
J. Matthew Dudley
President, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association