Top-tier Lawyers to be Honored with Chicago Bar Association’s 21st Annual John Paul Stevens Awards

Post Authored by: Ann Glynn, Public Affairs Director with the CBA

The Chicago Bar Association has selected five influential attorneys who stand out in their respective areas of practice as recipients of the Association’s top legal award, bestowed to lawyers who demonstrate the highest commitment to integrity and public service.

Named in honor of the legendary Supreme Court Justice and native Chicagoan John Paul Stevens, the awards will be presented by The Chicago Bar Association and The Chicago Bar Foundation at the 21st Annual John Paul Stevens Celebration which will be hosted virtually on October 28 at 2:00 p.m.

This year’s recipients are Marisel Hernandez, Partner at Jacobs, Burns, Orlove & Hernandez and Chairwoman, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners; Jennifer Nijman, Founding Partner, Nijman Franzetti; Terry Murphy, Retired Executive Director, the Chicago Bar Association; Zaldwaynaka (“Z”) Scott, President, Chicago State University; and Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr., Presiding Judge, First Municipal District, Circuit Court of Cook County.

The awards recognize lawyers and judges who best exemplify Justice Stevens’ commitment to integrity and public service in the practice of law. Stevens retired from the High Court in 2010 after 35 years of distinguished service and died in 2019.

“The CBA and the CBF are proud to honor this distinguished and diverse group of attorneys and jurists with the John Paul Stevens Award,” said CBA President Maryam Ahmad. “Each has made a significant impact in the legal community and in their respective careers through their commitment to the rule of the law and service to The Chicago Bar Association and our community.”

More About the Winners

Marisel Hernandez has served on the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners since 2007. She was the first Latinx person ever appointed to the Board. In 2016, she became the Chairwoman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, where she is charged with overseeing elections within the City of Chicago. Hernandez is also a partner with Jacobs Burns Orlove & Hernandez in Chicago, where for over 30 years she has represented labor organizations, public and private employee benefit plans and employees in a variety of labor and employment matters. Prior to Jacobs Burns, she worked as a trial attorney for the National Labor Relations Board and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She is a member of the Board of Kent Law School Institute for Law and the Workplace, the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center Advisory Board, and the 2019 Magistrate Judge Selection Panel for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Jennifer Nijman is a founding partner of the women-owned, environmental firm Nijman·Franzetti LLP. She was formerly a partner and Chair of the Environmental Practice Group at the Chicago office of a national law firm. Jennifer served as President of the Chicago Bar Association in 2002-2003 and as past Chair of the CBA Alliance for Women. Since 2012, she has served as a Commissioner on the Illinois Supreme Court Commission for Access to Justice where she chairs the Remote Appearance Committee., responsible for proposing amendments to Illinois Supreme Court rules to promote access to justice through remote access to the Courts. She also chairs the Strategic Planning Committee. She is a past President and Board Member of the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois and a past President and Board Member of the Center for Conflict Resolution. She has served on the Boards of the Public Interest Law Initiative and the Justice Entrepreneur’s Project for promoting socially conscious law practices. She is a member of the Federal Trial Bar for the Northern District of Illinois and is admitted to the Illinois and Wisconsin Bar, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. She is a Fellow of the American College of Environmental Lawyers and a member of the Chicago Network for Chicago’s Women Leaders.

Terry Murphy began his career with The Chicago Bar Association in 1971 and held several management positions with the Association before being appointed Executive Director in 1985. In addition, Murphy held a number of positions outside of the Association including: Local Bar Delegate, Vice-President and President of the National Association of Bar Executives and founded NABE’s Minority Committee; Reporting Secretary for the Metropolitan Bar Caucus; former member of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Workforce Board; Chair of the Training Subcommittee for the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Special Committee on Domestic Violence; and former member of the Elmhurst Art Museum’s Ethics Committee. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession, Vice-President of the CBA Insurance Agency, and Director of The CBA Condominium Board.

Zaldwaynaka (“Z”) Scott is the 12th permanent president of Chicago State University. Scott oversaw the development and advancement of the Chicago State University Strategic Plan 2020-2025 and supervised the launch of a historic re-brand of the University, putting into motion new brand assets and campaigns to revitalize the institution’s reputation and raise awareness among new stakeholders. She is also a well-known advocate for equity in higher education, having formed and co-chaired the Equity Working Group, a body of leaders from across the education, public, private, philanthropic, and community development sectors to formulate an action plan for addressing Black student access and success in Illinois higher education. Scott serves on: the Board of Directors for the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital Medical Center Board, where she co-chairs the board’s subcommittee on diversity; the Board of Trustees of the United States Coast Guard Academy; and the Board of Directors for Just the Beginning, a nonprofit organization devoted to improving the diverse pipeline in the legal field. President Scott is also the former Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Housing Authority, the nation’s third largest housing authority. She also previously served on the Board of Visitors at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, as the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at Chicago State University, and as Chapter General Counsel for the Chicago Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Scott spent more than 16 years as a federal criminal prosecutor in the position of Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois, where she served as Chief of the General Crimes Section. Upon leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Illinois State Senate confirmed her appointment as Illinois’ first Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Governor and its public universities.

Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr. has served as the Presiding Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s First Municipal District since 2003. He has served as President of Center for Conflict Resolution and served on numerous boards and committees. He is co-editor of the Bench and Bar newsletter and member of the Bench and Bar Committee for the Illinois State Bar Association. He was appointed to the Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions committee by the Illinois Supreme Court and is Chairman of the subcommittee for the Special Supreme Court Committee to Study Courtroom and Judicial Safety. He was President of the Chicago Bar Association from 2008 -2009, past Chair of the Civil Practice Committee and current Chair of the Earl B. Dickerson Committee. He is an Inquiry Board and Hearing Board member for the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission and past President and member of Board of Managers for the Center on Conflict Resolution. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Lawyers Lend-a-Hand program, the charitable fundraising arm of the Chicago Bar Association.

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