LINCOLN: OUR ILLINOIS LAWYER - PRESIDENT
By Stuart Lefstein
Justice Kilbride -
Thank you so much for inviting me here today and for your kind introduction.
Justice Lytton, Chief Judge O'Connor, Judge Vespa, Honorable Justices of the Appellate Court, Honorable Judges of the Circuit Court, President O'Brien of the Illinois State Bar Association, and most distinguished honorees - my soon to be fellow Illinois "attorneys and counselors at law" - a phrase that is inscribed on the licenses you will receive today -families of the honorees, friends and other guests:
When Justice Kilbride asked me to say a few words on this occasion, I was delighted to say "yes." As an old man, I enjoy being in the company of young lawyers. I also don't say "no" to the Supreme Court, unless it's the correct answer to a question from the bench during oral argument.
But the problem with accepting invitations like this is that when you are up here you have to say something! What is there left to say to a group of young lawyers who have already sat through commencement speeches at high school, college and most recently, law school graduations? In the few minutes I have, I doubt if I could be very helpful in telling you how to practice law or handle whatever other employment you might choose. Also, and sadly, I lack a blueprint for what young lawyers need to do in order to successfully navigate these very difficult economic times.
So I am departing today from the conventional words of wisdom that are usually imparted on occasions like this.
Because you are about to be sworn in as Illinois lawyers, I thought it might be appropriate to briefly reflect on the most revered lawyer that ever practiced in our state - particularly this year - this year because February 12th marked his 200th birthday - so to borrow a line from his most famous speech, "It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this." That speech, of course, was given at Gettysburg 146 years ago this month, and the small town Illinois prairie lawyer who gave it was, as we all know, President Abraham Lincoln.