For the Arab American Bar Association of Illinois, 2016 was an outstanding year complete with record-turnout networking events, critical panel discussions, insightful CLE lectures and the celebration of its 25th anniversary!
In April 2016, AABAR held a panel discussion titled “Careers in Law,” where attorneys discussed with students their experience in a variety of legal careers and practice areas. That same week, AABAR held its first annual Building Bridges Reception with the Decalogue Society of Lawyers titled “Honoring Women in the Legal Profession.” The sold-out event honored six women, three of Arab descent and three of the Jewish faith, all of whom have worked tirelessly to fight stereotypes of gender, ethnicity, immigrants and LGBT to become leaders in our legal community. AABAR looks forward to hosting its second annual Building Bridges Reception in 2017, honoring two men, the Hon. William J. Haddad (ret.) and the renowned Michael Traison for their stewardship in establishing and growing the friendship between AABAR and Decalogue.
Judge Haddad’s efforts have not gone unnoticed and it came as no surprise when, on April 20, 2016, he was among those honored at the prestigious Vanguard Award held at the Standard Club. The award recognized Haddad’s efforts in making the law and legal profession more accessible to and reflective of the community at large.
That same day, past president of AABAR and current professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, John Breen, teamed up with Judge Haddad to host a CLE titled “Islamophobia and The Rule of Law: Professional Responsibility, Immigration and Constitutional Law Perspectives.” The presentation focused on constitutional and legal issues concerning hate speech, hate violence and discriminatory immigration policies against Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans. The presentation video was shared by the ABA, reaching more than 400,000 members.
On May 4, 2016, AABAR took part in the All Arab-American Professional Networking Event. More than 150 professionals gathered from the various Arab-American organizations in Chicago to network at this gathering. The event was held again on Oct. 27 with as much success.
On Sept. 15, Judge Haddad served as the emcee at the Decalogue Merit Award Dinner honoring Israel Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, the first Arab to receive a permanent appointment on that court. AABAR was honored to attend. In October, AABAR President Donna Haddad was featured by her alma matter, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in a video recognizing alumni who have made significant contributions to the practice of law. The video explored Donna’s outstanding work throughout the world, including her work for IBM in the Middle East.
On Nov. 2, AABAR, together with the DePaul Multicultural Law Student Association, Muslim Law Student Association and International Human Rights Law Institute, hosted an event titled “Combating Hate Speech,” which was presented by Judge Haddad, attorney Vivian Khalaf and professor Peter Kirstein.
On Nov. 17, AABAR held its 25th anniversary and installation dinner with guest speaker U.S. Rep. Darin M. LaHood and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas L. Kilbride. The installed officers included Donna Haddad, Sandra Frantzen, Anwar T. Shatat, Marvet M. Sweis Drnovsek and Nura A. Yanaki. The event also featured a tribute video, reflecting on AABAR’s 25 years of progress and success.
In December, AABAR was among countless bar associations for the annual swearing-in ceremony hosted by the Diversity Scholarship Foundation and The John Marshall Law School at the 2016 Unity Award Dinner and 14th Swearing-In of Bar Presidents Ceremony.
The momentum for AABAR did not wind down at the close of 2016 but rather continued head strong into the new year. Members played a key role at a major news conference held on Feb. 6, at the headquarters of The Chicago Bar Association to address the executive order banning Muslims from traveling to the United States. AABAR stood beside the Muslim Bar Association of Chicago, discussing the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution which serves to protect the rights of all citizens, regardless of religion. The support was overwhelming as representatives from 19 bar and professional associations stood together.
AABAR’s year was tremendous to say the least.