The Chicago Bar Association is pleased to celebrate 2022 Women’s History Month which commemorates and encourages the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. As a part of the celebration, the CBA is profiling a diverse group of women lawyers and judges who share their personal stories, their perspectives on how to thrive within the profession, their advice for women entering the profession and their predictions for the future. For a full list of the CBA’s Women’s History Month events and programs, visit the CBA’s website here: Women’s History Month (chicagobar.org).
Below is our featured interview with 2021-2022 CBA President E. Lynn Grayson.
What is the most important lesson you have learned during your legal career about how to thrive in the profession?
I believe at its core that law is about people and our relationships with one another. It is critically important to be mindful of all you say and do in order to safeguard your personal integrity and professional reputation. Equally important, special care must be taken to ensure interactions and communications with others are civil and respectful at all times.
What do you believe are the most important attributes of a leader in the legal profession?
Reliance on the golden rule and ensuring that we treat others with kindness and civility as we would like to be treated.
Please provide an example of a person, or a quotation that inspires you. Explain why you are inspired by that person or quotation.
One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It is a good reminder that we have the ability to make a difference in the lives of others if we act with kindness and empathy.
E. Lynn Grayson is a partner in the environmental law firm of Nijman Franzetti LLP in Chicago. She is consistently recognized as a leading environmental lawyer by Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers in America, Who’s Who: Environment, Illinois Super Lawyers, and the Leading Lawyers Network. She is AV Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell’s highest peer recognition for ethical standards and legal ability. Ms. Grayson formerly was a partner and chair of the environmental practice group at the Chicago office of a national law firm. While in government, she served as the Chief Legal Counsel for the Illinois Emergency Services and Disaster Agency and the State Emergency Response Commission and as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois prosecuting environmental enforcement actions.
She serves as national environmental counsel supporting corporate law departments with the management of day-to-day environmental compliance challenges and cleanup obligations. She counsels corporate leadership on material environmental risks and liabilities, advises clients on critical enforcement, regulatory and litigation matters, and serves as lead environmental counsel in U.S. and international transactions. Ms. Grayson defends clients in natural resource damage claim matters, manages all aspects of site cleanups including CERCLA, RCRA, state-led and voluntary private party investigations and remediation, and represents clients in substantive environmental enforcement proceedings related to air pollution and chemical use and emergency response.
Ms. Grayson is a member of the Leadership Council of the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, DC. She is a frequent author and speaker on environmental law and policy matters and also teaches natural resources law as adjunct faculty. She received the National Law Journal’s “Energy and Environmental Trailblazer” Award and in 2021, was recognized as Best Lawyers’ Environmental Lawyer of the Year in Chicago and one of Lawdragon’s 500 Leading Environmental and Energy Lawyers.
For her work to promote diversity in the legal profession, she is the recipient of the Chicago Bar Association’s first Alta May Hulett Award, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois’ Women with Vision Award, the Illinois State Bar Association’s Diversity Leadership Award, and the Best Lawyers’ Women of Influence Award.
Ms. Grayson is the 2021-2022 President of the Chicago Bar Association, one of the oldest and most prestigious urban bar associations in the U.S. She serves on the Board of Trustees of her alma mater Franklin College, the Board of Directors of the Chicago Bar Foundation, the Geneva Lake Museum (Secretary) and the Geneva Lake Association (Vice-President). Ms. Grayson received her J.D. from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and her B.A. from Franklin College. She is admitted to the Illinois bar and several federal courts including the Supreme Court of the United States.