“Building a More Perfect Practice of Law in Illinois” is a never-ending construction project, filled with revised architectural plans, change orders and interim phase deadlines.

This construction process had its “footings” by the English Common Law. The “foundation” of American Jurisprudence was “poured” by our Constitution. Floor by floor of construction has been added by statutes and case law precedent, with each floor guiding us to the next. But construction will continue; our law and legal system will never be a finished, turnkey product.

The pandemic has ushered in a plethora of changes to the legal profession. Our profession rose to this challenge and was able to provide legal services despite the obstacles of masks, social distancing and Zoom. Even before that, in my 45 years as a lawyer, and the last 25 of those as a judge, our profession has proven that it is capable of change — from attorney advising, carbon paper to photocopies, letters to emails, law books to the internet and newspapers to social media.

The list goes on, but it proves that our profession has been able to navigate challenges through our professionalism, civility, integrity, and the collective desire and goal to interact with and complement each other through education, bar associations, and respect for our profession’s integral place in society.

It is these very skills that will continue to ensure we are able to add more floors to our building. It is with profound respect, civility, and the ability to adapt that our profession approaches the future, awaiting the next challenge.

We will need to figure out how to stay connected in an increasingly virtual world while maintaining the trust and respect that the third branch of government deserves. We also need to attract the next generation to this important endeavor.

Finally, we must ensure that the public maintains faith in the non-partisan neutrality of all courts, from the U.S. Supreme Court to the local traffic court. Confidence in the judicial system is imperative to the future of our democracy.

For the past 250 years, our profession has proven that, despite any seemingly impossible change, it has prevailed. The future awaits, and today is the first day of that future. So, let’s keep building and let’s take pride in the completion of each new, successive floor, as we strive toward a “More Perfect Practice of Law in Illinois.”