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Illinois Professional Responsibility MCLE Marathon 2020

Speaker(s): Athena T. Taite, Christine P. Anderson, Farah Harris, MA, LCPC, John C. Koski, Samuel J. Manella, Sandra S. Yamate, Sari W. Montgomery, Sharon E. Jones, Steven R. Splitt, Trisha M. Rich
Recorded on: Jul. 22, 2020
PLI Program #: 277593

Athena T. Taite is a senior counsel with the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois and is the Commission’s Director of Professional Development.  Since 1999, she has represented the Commission’s Administrator in attorney disciplinary matters.  She has investigated reports of attorney misconduct and represented the Administrator at disciplinary hearings.  Since 2011, she has represented the Administrator in appeals to the Commission’s Review Board and to the Supreme Court of Illinois.  Before joining the Commission, Athena worked in the Illinois House of Representatives and in the legal department of the Illinois State Bar Association.  She is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and Northwestern University School of Law.

Athena is currently Chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Government Lawyers, Immediate Past Chair of the ISBA Diversity Leadership Council, and a member of the ISBA Leadership Academy Governing Board and the ISBA Standing Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law.  She is also Immediate Past Chair of the National Bar Association Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee.

Christine Anderson is a 1986 graduate of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.  In 1988, Ms. Anderson joined the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission as counsel and currently holds the position of Director of Probation and Lawyer Deferral Services, Intake Manager and Senior Litigation Counsel.  During her employment with the ARDC, Ms. Anderson has investigated and prosecuted hundreds of cases of attorney misconduct and has argued several disciplinary cases before the Supreme Court of Illinois.  She currently monitors the attorneys placed on diversion, supervision status by the Inquiry Board and probation and conditional admission by the Supreme Court of Illinois.  She is also a frequent presenter at continuing legal education programs on topics related to professional responsibility and lawyer regulation.  She is also on the advisory board to the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs.

Farah Harris’ field is mental health, and her passion is wellness – on an individual and global scale! Farah’s mission is to help individuals find and own their voice. She works to connect people to their stories to bring truth, freedom and self-actualization. Taking a pragmatic approach, coupled with humor, she helps clients by highlighting their growth areas and take real steps to achieving their goals.

Along with the work she does with her clients in private practice, Harris goes beyond the couch to help improve the work environments in which her clients spend most of their time. Farah is the owner of WorkingWell Daily, LLC a company dedicated to addressing work-life alignment. As a workplace wellness advocate, her personal mission is to help individuals and organizations decrease symptoms of stress and burnout, elevate their emotional intelligence, increase productivity and improve morale by implementing strategies to create healthier work culture. Because we spend most of our lives at work; why not work well.

Farah resides in the south suburbs of Chicago with her husband of fifteen years and their three young children. 

John Koski is the Global Chief Legal Officer for Dentons, where he is responsible for meeting the legal needs of the world's largest law firm. John chairs the Global Risk Management Committee, serves on the Global Management Committee, and reports to the Global Board. 

John is a partner in the firm, resident in Chicago.  For more than 20 years, John has counseled law firms (including his own), corporate law departments, and lawyers on governance, structure, litigation, transactions, insurance, regulation, compliance, investigations, and professional responsibility matters. 

He speaks and writes frequently on legal ethics, risk management, and professionalism matters.  He has conducted more than 100 accredited CLE presentations.  He has taught individual classes on professional responsibility at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and The John Marshall Law School, and is currently a Lecturer at Law at the University of Chicago Law School where he co-teaches a class in professional responsibility. 

John is a member of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, the American Bar Association’s Center for Professional Responsibility, the Illinois Bar and the Florida Bar, and several federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court.

Ms. Jones is a diversity consultant who specializes in providing diversity/inclusion consulting and training to law firms, professional services firms, corporations, not for profits and other types of organizations. She is the President of Jones Diversity, Inc.  Her firm’s broad range of services enable the organization to fully utilize, retain and promote diverse employees into leadership roles and to build diverse and inclusive workplace cultures and communities. She has served as the Interim Founding Director for the Center for Diversity Innovation at the University at Buffalo which focused on research in diversity and inclusion and bringing those best practices to employers in all sectors.

Ms. Jones has practiced law and been a community leader over a 25-year career, including positions as a federal prosecutor, with major law firms and with Fortune 500 Corporations.  She has been highly successful as a litigator, a counselor, an educator and a problem-solver regarding extremely complex and sensitive matters. From 1985-1989, Ms. Jones served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, based in Chicago, where she conducted federal grand jury investigations and trials in high profile white-collar criminal cases.        In private law practice, she was a partner at Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert & Matz and Senior Counsel at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe in Los Angeles.

In the corporate sector, Ms. Jones managed litigation matters worldwide for Abbott Laboratories, as well as advising senior management in matters of crisis management and in fashioning creative solutions to highly complex business issues.  Most recently, Ms. Jones acted as Senior Counsel at SBC Communications (now AT &T).                   

Ms. Jones was Counsel of Record in the amicus curiae brief filed in the United States Supreme Court in 2003 by the Black Women Lawyers Association of Chicago in Grutter v. Bollinger and the University of Michigan in support of diversity in higher education.

She is the author of “Mastering the Game:  Career Strategies for Success” which provides the unwritten rules for career success for women and diverse professionals (May 2018).

Ms. Jones is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College.

Samuel J. Manella is a sole practitioner, Samuel J. Manella, PC, in Chicago, concentrating his practice in the areas of attorney discipline and professional responsibility.  He received his law degree from De Paul University and was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1985.  Mr. Manella was employed as a staff attorney by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission between 1985 and 1991.  He has taught ethics and Business Law courses at De Paul University since 1989 and has testified as an expert in legal ethics cases.

Sandra S. Yamate is the CEO of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession. She spent the preceding ten years as the Director of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. She was the first Executive Director of the Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms. Prior to that, Sandra was a litigator in Chicago for ten years.

Currently, Sandra serves on the boards of the National Judicial College, where she chairs the Nominations and Governance Committee, and the National Association of Women Lawyers, where she is part of the Advocacy and Survey Committees.  Sandra was a founding member of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, where she served as the first Central Region Governor and continues to serve on the Leadership Advisory Council. She is a former president of the Japanese American Service Committee, the oldest Asian American social service agency in the Midwest and the Harvard Law Society of Illinois. She is a former member of the boards of the Japanese American Citizens League, the Asian American Institute, the National Women’s Political Caucus of Metropolitan Chicago, the Girl Scouts of Chicago, Friends of the Chicago Public Library, the Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute, and Asian Americans for Inclusive Education. She has written and spoken extensively on diversity in the legal profession and on multicultural children’s literature.

Sandra earned her AB in Political Science (cum laude) and History (magna cum laude) from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received her JD from Harvard Law School.

Sandra, her husband, Brian Witkowski, and their dogs, Cashew and Filbert, live in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood.

Sari Montgomery is a partner in the Chicago firm of Robinson, Stewart, Montgomery and Doppke, LLC. After more than a decade as Litigation and Senior Litigation Counsel at the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois (ARDC), where she conducted hundreds of investigations and prosecuted dozens of cases before the ARDC Hearing Board, Sari Montgomery now applies her extensive knowledge of the ARDC and legal ethics to helping lawyers facing disciplinary proceedings or who otherwise need guidance on ethics matters. She has successfully represented lawyers at every stage of the disciplinary process, judges before the Judicial Inquiry Board and bar applicants in the Character and Fitness process.

Sari also provides legal advice to lawyers regarding ethical and practice management issues. She has issued opinion letters on behalf of lawyers, law firms, government agencies, and law-related businesses to assist in clarifying their ethical obligations and to ensure their business models are consistent with the Rules of Professional Conduct. Sari also serves as an expert witness in legal malpractice and fee litigation.

Sari was appointed to serve as a member of the ABA Committee on Professional Regulation and is on the Board of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL). For more than a decade, Sari has served on the Illinois State Bar Association’s (ISBA) Committee on Professional Conduct (Past Chair). She was also appointed to serve on the ISBA President’s Special Committee on Alternative Business Structures, Special Committee on ARDC Matching Services Study, and the Special Committee on Collaborative Law. Sari is also a member of the Chicago Bar Association.

Sari frequently presents at national, state, and local CLE programs. She has taught as an Adjunct Professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and is an accomplished author on legal ethics issues.

Sari is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Steven R. Splitt, as senior counsel, handles appeals of disciplinary cases before the ARDC’s Review Board and the Illinois Supreme Court. As ARDC Public Information Officer, he prepares press releases and answers media inquiries for the ARDC. He also presents information about the ARDC and lawyer ethics to law schools and bar groups. He taught Lawyering Skills II at the John Marshall Law School from 1994 to 2015. Prior to joining the ARDC in 1998, he spent several years in the Illinois Attorney General’s Criminal Appeals Division working on death penalty cases at various stages of state and federal review. He also served as a law clerk to former Justice Lawrence Inglis of the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District.

Trisha Rich is the national co-chair of Holland & Knight’s Legal Profession Team and a member of the firm’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution practice.  In her professional responsibility practice, Ms. Rich advises lawyers, law firms, and in-house counsel on a variety of issues related to professional responsibility and legal ethics, including professional responsibility, malpractice, partnership and corporate structuring, law firm management and employment issues, fee disputes, conflicts, confidentiality, and privilege, as well as all areas of legal ethics.  She also serves as an expert witness on legal ethics and professional responsibility matters.  Ms. Rich works in Holland & Knight’s Chicago and New York offices.

Ms. Rich is active in the legal ethics community. She founded and coordinates the Attorney Defense Initiative, the first privately sponsored pro bono initiative in the nation that focuses on assisting impaired lawyers facing disciplinary charges. Ms. Rich is a member of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, and a frequent speaker and author on a variety of issues related to ethics and risk management. She has worked as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University School of Law in the area of legal ethics and professional responsibility. Ms. Rich also serves as the Deputy Professional Responsibility Partner for the Chicago office of Holland & Knight. Prior to practicing law, Ms. Rich taught practical and theoretical ethics at two universities.

In her commercial litigation practice, Ms. Rich represents a wide variety of clients in litigation and other disputes, including national and international companies, small businesses, municipalities and state agencies, and individuals. She has extensive experience in resolving disputes between businesses and represents clients at the trial and appellate levels in a wide variety of matters, including actions for breach of contract, tort claims, breach of warranty, fraud, consumer fraud, deceptive trade practices, tortious interference and all aspects of real estate, property management and receivership litigation. Ms. Rich also has extensive experience in financial services and consumer financial litigation.

Ms. Rich has first- and second-chaired a number of trials and evidentiary hearings in both state and federal courts, and also has represented clients in administrative hearings. She is a member of the Trial Bar for the Northern District of Illinois, has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and is a 2012 graduate of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy's national trial practice program.