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January 23, 2023 Judicial Division

JD Director's Column

By Ms. Tori Jo Wible, Chicago, IL

In the Upper Midwest, winter is a great time for introspection. Gardeners pour over seed catalogues and plan out overly ambitious herb gardens; baseball enthusiasts bemoan or cheer offseason trades; and those of us who aren’t bears do our best imitation of hibernation. Personally, I like a nice cup of hot tea and a new book or puzzle. Books take me to places I may never visit in person, and puzzles give my brain time to think without my conscious mind gumming up the works. 

What’s on my mind this hibernation/winter? The future! Will the triple threat of Covid and flu variations, as well as other respiratory maladies reoccur every winter? Are remote hearings here to stay? Will the media ever stop announcing who appointed particular federal judges, as though the identity of the appointer means the judges will make decisions based on politics rather than applying the facts to the law? Will I be able to fit into my mother’s Mother of the Groom dress for my son’s wedding? Will I ever find another staff member willing to work with the three conferences that I have worked with so patiently?  So many questions.

Before I spin into a cycle of gloom and doom, I will now take a moment to focus on what makes my job at the ABA so fulfilling.  It’s the people, the tremendous volunteers, judges who are already overworked, taking on committee work, leadership positions, and outreach programs because of their passion for the law.  How can I resist the enthusiasm of a member leader who reaches out before taking the bench to confirm a meeting time when this passion is contagious?

Passion and dedication are the liaisons who attend more meetings than any sane person ought to; or my favorite – retired judges who suddenly are doing more work than there are hours in the day - you know who you are!  It’s also the JD staff.  We are truly a team, with everyone pitching in to help.

I’m grateful that after the first two uninspiring ‘holiday parties’ they came to me with another idea, doing a team service project. B.P. (before the pandemic), we collected travel sized hygiene products for Sarah’s Circle.  A. P. (after pandemic), we decorated and distributed flower pots to care facilities, helped run the gear check at the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Race Judicata and last month, and served dinner at the JUF Uptown Café. Three of the JD Team ran in Turkey Trot races, challenging each other to train and participate. The team is strong, creative, cohesive, and an amazing group of women of diverse backgrounds and experiences, we are truly stronger together.

Thank you all for a great 2022 and a bright 2023 to look forward to.

Ms. Tori Jo Wible

Ms. Tori Jo Wible

Judicial Division Director, Chief Counsel

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