ISBA Past President John O'Brien named vice president with Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund
O’Brien, who has practiced law in Arlington Heights since 1972, was president of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) in 2009-10 and is past president and current chairman of the board of directors of the Illinois Real Estate Lawyers Association (IRELA), an organization he founded in 1994. IRELA, composed of real estate attorneys from all corners of Illinois, is the only bar association that represents the interests solely of real estate attorneys. ATG and IRELA have partnered over the years to advocate for real estate attorneys and the clients they serve.
Largely through O’Brien’s advocacy efforts in the mid-90s, IRELA filed a lawsuit against a large Chicago-area realtor to prevent its agents from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law by their efforts to offer what amounted to legal advice to home buyers. IRELA won the lawsuit and continues, according to the ISBA, “to serve as a watchdog to prevent non-lawyers from offering what are essentially legal services to home buyers and sellers.” The impact of this ruling is clear not only for attorneys but also for the clients they represent.
The ISBA also credits O’Brien with traveling throughout the state during his presidency, which took place during a period of high foreclosure rates in Illinois, to help homeowners hang on to their homes and, if foreclosure was inevitable, to help them understand the process.
Of his service to the Illinois bar, Peter Birnbaum, ATG president and chief executive officer, notes, “John is one of the most beloved lawyers in Illinois. Through his founding and chairing of IRELA and his presidency of the ISBA, he has built valuable relationships with law firms throughout the state. We believe that John can use those skills to bring significant value to ATG, not only from a marketing standpoint but also through the advocacy we provide lawyers on a daily basis.”
In his new role at ATG, O’Brien will serve as special counsel to Birnbaum on industry matters both on the local scene and in bigger arenas. He has already been focusing his expertise in a variety of legal matters. For example, in early June, he testified on behalf of ATG before the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Mortgage Foreclosures. “ATG and its subsidiaries have progressive business plans and a significant consumer protection agenda. I will be charged with coordinating the efforts of those companies, bar associations, regulatory bodies and other interested parties to further these objectives,” he said.
O’Brien has lectured on real estate topics for the ISBA, the American Bar Association, numerous other bar associations throughout the state, as well as the Illinois Institute for Continuing Education and ATG.
“I’ve believed my entire career that ATG is the single greatest lawyer service organization in the State of Illinois. It has done more for what I’ll call ‘Main Street’ lawyers than anybody. ATG supports real issues, for real lawyers, and for real people. I’m energized and really looking forward to this (position). This is what I want to do.
O’Brien’s roles and accomplishments within the profession are many. In 2006, he was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to serve on the Minimum Continuing Legal Education Board. He is also vice chair of the board of directors of the ISBA Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Chancellor of the Academy of Illinois Laureates, which honors select Illinois lawyers for a lifetime of service to both the profession and the public.
He earned a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and a J.D. from Loyola University.
About Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, Inc.
Through its nearly 4,000 member attorneys across Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana, ATG has presided over more than 2.5 million home closings and provided homebuyers with competitively priced title insurance since 1964. The only bar-related title insurance company based in Illinois, ATG has built a significant market share by providing excellent service at competitive prices. It has been assigned a Financial Stability Rating®(FSR) of A′ (A Prime), Unsurpassed, by the independent ratings bureau, Demotech, Inc.