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 Jayne Reardon, the Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.
What is the most important lesson you have learned during your legal career about how to thrive in the profession?
To thrive in the legal profession you need grit and the related characteristic of resiliency. Earlier in my life, I called these qualities determination and the ability to “shake it off.” These qualities are important because so much of the legal system is adversarial, where there is a winner and loser. Lawyers cannot take a loss, on a motion for example, personally. They need to be able to move along to the next client’s matter.
What do you believe are the most important attributes of a leader in the legal profession?
The most important attributes of a leader in the legal profession are to listen to others openly and to have the courage to act on their convictions.
Please provide an example of a person, or a quotation that inspires you. Explain why you are inspired by that person or quotation.
A quote that Simone Biles—and others—have said resonates with me: “I’d rather regret the risks that didn’t work out than the chances I didn’t take at all.” Like many lawyers, I have been risk-averse and tried to mitigate risks for clients. But I have come to realize that in our personal circumstances, if we want to effectuate changes, we need to take risks. To not take a chance means to accept the status quo.
Jayne Reardon is the Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism where she oversees programs to increase the civility and professionalism of attorneys and judges, create inclusiveness in the profession, and promote increased service to the public.
Jayne developed the Commission’s Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Program, which weaves professionalism topics – like civility, well-being, and diversity, equity, and inclusion — into a traditional attorney mentoring curriculum. In addition, she led the development of the Commission’s interactive communications platforms, connecting constituencies through digital and social media.
Jayne frequently writes and speaks on the changing practice of law, asserting that, by embracing inclusiveness and innovation, the profession will remain relevant and impactful in the future.
Prior to joining the Commission, Jayne was a successful trial lawyer, handled attorney discipline cases as counsel to the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission Review Board, and served on committees working on diversity and recruiting issues.
She is active in numerous bar and civic organizations. She serves on the board of the Institute for the Future of Law Practice, the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers Future of Lawyering Committee, is past Chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Professionalism, and is a steering committee member of the National Lawyer Mentoring Consortium.
Jayne was selected as a 2021 Legal Rebel by the ABA Journal and the ABA Center for Innovation, to the 2020 Women of Legal Tech list by the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center, as a member of the 2019 Fastcase 50, and received the Distinguished Service to Law and Society Award from the Illinois Bar Foundation in 2017.
Jayne received a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and a bachelor’s from the University of Notre Dame.