CHICAGO -- The Illinois Bar Foundation (IBF) on Friday presented awards to an Illinois Supreme Court justice and one of its former presidents.
The IBF gave Justice Rita Garman its “Honorary Fellows Award” and Mount Vernon attorney Mark Hassakis its “Award for Distinguished Service to Law and Society.”
The awards were presented during the foundation’s annual Fellows Awards Breakfast, which took place at the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA)/Illinois Judges Association IJA) Joint Meeting in Chicago.
The midyear meeting opened Thursday evening with a reception and came to a close on Saturday after the policy-making-body of the ISBA discussed and voted on a variety of issues and proposals.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Debra Walker, president of the IBF Board of Directors, welcomed attendants of the breakfast and stressed the importance of the IBF, which works to make legal aid available, encourage pro bono work, educate residents on their rights and help colleagues in need of support.
Walker also introduced Garman, who she met about 20 years ago as a young attorney serving on a panel geared toward female law students.
Not only was she “in awe” of Garman back then, but Walker said she continues to be inspired by Garman, “a woman of many firsts,” including being the first female judge in the 5th Judicial Circuit and on the Fourth District Appellate Court.
Garman said that after being questioned over her desire to attend law school and having trouble finding a job after law school, she is “honored and humbled” to receive the IBF’s “Honorary Fellows Award.”
With her husband, Gill, in the audience, Garman said that the foundation’s goals of providing access to the legal system and supporting colleagues in need are also “very important goals for me.”
Orland Park attorney David Sosin, a past president of the IBF, introduced Hassakis, who received the group’s “Award for Distinguished Service to Law and Society.”
Saying that Hassakis might be the only attorney to have served as president of the ISBA, IBF and ISBA Mutual Insurance Co., Sosin referred to Hassakis’ participation in Illinois’ legal community as “legendary.”
Hassakis has been instrumental in the success of a variety of IBF events, including its annual gala and “Lawyers Rock Legends” event.
“Mark has left a mark on this state that will be there for many years,” Sosin said.
Hassakis said he had a lot of help over the years and truly enjoys being so involved in the state’s legal community.
Both Garman and Hassakis received standing ovations at the breakfast that was attended by several dozen IBF fellows, supporters and past presidents, as well as Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride and Justice Mary Jane Thies.
Bloomington attorney Timothy W. Kelly, who serves as vice-chair of the IBF Fellows Program, said fellows are attorneys who have committed to donate between $1,000 and $25,000 to the IBF.
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