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Vol. 28, No. 6

Moving on up: Presenting our new Chicago headquarters

by Marilyn Cavicchia

Greetings from our new home! It took about 353 truckloads and a lot of packing and unpacking, but the Chicago staff of the ABA is now under one roof, in a beautiful new headquarters. Not everyone knows this, but for many years, our Chicago offices were in two buildings, with a few blocks in between.

For those of us who work here, it has been fun to bump into people we didn’t used to see every day because they were in “the other building.” On a personal note, Bar Leader meetings will be a whole lot more convenient now that they won’t require a walk outside.

Now, some 700 ABA employees occupy 225,290 square feet on 10 floors, making us the largest tenant here at 321 North Clark Street. The building, developed in 1987, is right on the Chicago River and is also home to a number of law firms and other businesses. The American Bar Endowment, American Bar Insurance, American Bar Retirement Association, American Lawyers Auxiliary, and the National Association of Women Lawyers are all here, too. The American Bar Foundation is still housed in the building on Lake Shore Drive, but has a presence here on Clark as well.

The move came about in part because of the work of an ABA board committee headed by Thomas Z. Hayward Jr. of Chicago. After considering various options to accommodate the ABA’s staffing and technology needs into the future, the decision to move was finalized in August 2001. Speaking of technology. . . Our offices have been wired with more than 68 miles of state-of-the-art cable, capable of carrying 1 mb/second.

A welcome and a challenge

The ABA was honored to have Anthony M. Kennedy, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States as the keynote speaker at a dedication ceremony on Saturday, June 12, a month after the move. Kennedy issued a challenge to the ABA and lawyers across the nation: to continue to support the spread of democracy worldwide.

While some may think bar associations exist to help lawyers, Kennedy said the ABA and other bars have a higher purpose—to “rise above self-interest in order to protect something greater, which is the rule of law.”

He continued, “The idea of the rule of law and the duty to teach it is part of your ethical undertaking, and part of the underlying ethic of your profession.

“The urgency is there, the duty is there, and the promise is there, because you can make a difference.”

In particular, Kennedy praised the efforts of American lawyers who are helping the Iraqi people establish their government and justice system. He mentioned Fern Holland, a 33-year-old lawyer who left a promising career in Washington and was killed earlier this year in Iraq, where she had been helping women. Such efforts and sacrifices don’t go unnoticed, Kennedy said; when he asked the 28 senior judges in Iraq what message they’d like to send to those in the American legal profession and justice system, the response was that they’d like to say thank you.

ABA President Dennis W. Archer struck a similarly inspiring note before proclaiming the new headquarters with the bang of a gavel.

“Within these walls, America’s lawyers will continue to be watchful and protective of human rights, and will work to assure that justice for all is a pillar of our character as a nation and not a cliché,” he said. “Within these walls, we will develop the responses of our profession to the increasingly challenging issues we face as a nation and as citizens of the world.” Hayward and Executive Director Robert A. Stein also spoke.

For those of us who work within these walls, it’s a new day and we’re thrilled to be among the ranks of bars that have moved, built, or remodeled their homes in recent years. We hope you come visit us in our new home, which is first, the home of all ABA members, and colleagues from other corners of the bar association world!