Message from 2023-2024 Illinois ABOTA President Jill M. Webb

Jill M. Webb – President

Law Offices of Jill M. Webb
20 N. Clark, Suite 720
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 877-5790
Illinois ABOTA has a deep bench of superb plaintiff and defense trial lawyers. In addition, and more importantly, each member is respected for their talent as well as a commensurate reputation for honesty, integrity and civility. I look forward to serving as your President for the next two years.
The Illinois Chapter of ABOTA hosts two luncheons a year. We celebrate Law Day in May and honor a “Judge of the Year” each November. We welcome a large number of local judges to these two annual luncheons. Judges typically feel more comfortable attending such gatherings where both sides of the trial bar are represented. As we know, it is near impossible for judges to ethically defend their record publicly. ABOTA is committed to preserving and protecting an independent judiciary and to defend judges who have been unfairly criticized.
ABOTA was first organized in 1958 to counter a movement to eliminate civil jury trials in response to media criticism. Membership is spread throughout all fifty states and is limited to civil trial attorneys. The organization strives to maintain a balance of an equal split between plaintiff and defense attorneys. Members of ABOTA are committed to the preservation of the right to trial by jury.
ABOTA is an organization of consisting of both plaintiff and defense trial lawyers who have earned the respect and approval of both sides of the trial bar. Membership is by invitation only. To become ranked as a member, an applicant or member must have no less than ten civil jury trials as lead counsel. To obtain the rank of advocate, at least fifty jury trials or its equivalent is required.
ABOTA’s primary purpose is to ensure the protection of the Seventh Amendment. The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to trial by jury in civil cases. It was established as a check on the arbitrary power of the government. Thomas Jefferson and others were initially concerned that the right to a jury trial in civil cases was not in the original Constitution. They objected that the liberties which they fought for in the Revolution were not being constitutionally protected. The right to a jury trial in civil cases had been included in the Jamestown Charter of 1607. By 1776 all of the thirteen colonies protected it in one form or another. The United States Constitution was ratified by eleven states in 1788 without a right to a trial by jury in civil cases. The Bill of Rights, including the Seventh Amendment authored by James Madison, was passed by Congress three years later in 1791.
In addition, ABOTA, has resolved to oppose the British Rule of loser pay all, caps on pain and suffering and non-economic damages, mandatory alternative dispute resolution, peer review and approval before suit, no-fault legislation, frivolous actions or defenses, direct client solicitation, and unsolicited contact by lawyers with victims of disasters. ABOTA strongly supports vital access to the courts, diversity, and fair compensation for federal and state judges and justices. ABOTA also recommends that any candidate for federal judge have no fewer than ten jury trials.
General Purposes
The general purposes of this Association shall be to foster improvement in the ethical and technical standards of practice in the field of advocacy to the end that individual litigants may receive more effective representation and the general public to be benefitted by more efficient administration of justice consistent with time-tested and traditional principles of litigation.
Specific Purposes
The specific purposes of this Association are:
(1) To elevate the standards of integrity, honor and courtesy in the legal profession;
(2) To aid in further education and training of trial lawyers; to work for the preservation of our jury system; to improve methods of procedures of our present trial system; to serve as an informational center; to discuss and study matters of interest to trial lawyers; to advance the skill of its members as trial attorneys; to honor the members of the Association who have the requisite qualifications; to provide a forum for the expression of interests common to trial lawyers and to act as an agency through which trial lawyers in general, and members of the Association in particular, shall have a voice with which to speak concerning matters of common and general interest;
(3) To establish relations and cooperate with other legal organizations and associations for the purpose of promoting the efficient administration of justice and constant improvement of the law;
(4) To cultivate a spirit of loyalty, fellowship, and professionalism among our members; to advance the interests of the members of the Association professionally and to enable trial lawyers as a group to have an active association of standing in the community and nation through which they may learn and be heard.
The Executive Committee is composed of me as well as ABOTA Illinois Past Presidents and its Officers. The Past Presidents including some of the most preeminent trial lawyers in Illinois are: Bill Rogers, Tim Tomasik, Catherine Coyne Reiter, Robert Napleton, Joe Power Jr., Margaret A. Unger, Geoffrey Gifford, John Bell, Wendell Clancy, Frank Petrek, James Keating, Bruce Pfaff, Rudy Schade, Nick Motherway and Kevin Martin.
Our officers this year are:
Jill M. Webb
Law Office of Jill M. Webb
20 N. Clark Street, Suite 720
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 877-5790
Vice President/Treasurer
Kevin Golden
Dudley & Lake
20 N. Clark Street, Suite 720
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 263-6300
Christopher M. Norem
Law Offices of Parente & Norem
221 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 1750
(312) 641-5926
Sammi Renken
Johnson & Bell
33 W. Monroe Street, Suite 2700
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 984-0261
Nicholas J. Motherway 
Motherway & Napleton, LLP
140 S. Dearborn Street, Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 726-2699
Foundation Representative
Donna Kaner Socol
Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd.
70 W. Madison Street, Suite 4000
Chicago, Illinois 60602
(312) 604-2604

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