09 Aug, 2011
American Bar Association Names Illinois Lawyer Laurel Bellows President-Elect
Chicago lawyer Laurel Bellows was voted in today (Aug 9) as the American Bar Association president-elect at the association’s Annual Meeting in Toronto. She will serve a one-year term before becoming ABA president in August 2012. Bellows is principal of The Bellows Law Group, P.C.
“I am grateful for your trust and the opportunity to serve the profession and the organized bar in the coming years,” said Bellows. “I am also pleased to receive this honor in Toronto,” she added. “In this global economy where our members and clients frequently cross borders and work with lawyers of other backgrounds, it is important we recognize and strengthen the bonds we share with our North American neighbors.”
As president-elect, Bellows will continue to support the vision and mission of ABA leadership and will further the goals and messages of the organization.
“Despite the current recession, our association remains strong in membership and strong financially because of the many ways we serve the needs of our members and address issues that traditionally define us as lawyers—issues such as liberty, justice and fairness,” Bellows said. “We stand here today ready to fight for adequate funding to ensure the survival of our justice system. And, we stand here today proud of our response to our members’ expectations to make each lawyer a better lawyer for having joined the ABA.”
Bellows’ remarks to the association’s House of Delegates focused on the unique role lawyers play in society. “We have the ability to change the lives of others in a positive way,” she said. “The ABA helps lawyers become better at what they do. Our outstanding Continuing Legal Education programs and skills training provide newly minted lawyers, sole practitioners and lawyers in small firms the ability to practice law more effectively and efficiently,” Bellows added.
Bellows also emphasized the ABA’s role in protecting and promoting core American values. “The ABA is a strong voice for all lawyers advocating for justice and rule of law, here and abroad,” she said. “As lawyers, we have the ability to shape the laws and legal institutions of this country and to ensure that all citizens are equal before the law.” Speaking to the House of Delegates, Bellows paraphrased John F. Kennedy Jr., “I ask you to join me in making America a place where the strong are more just and the weak are secure.”
Finally, Bellows will continue to advocate strongly for laws that encourage gender fairness. “I would not be true to myself if I did not use my office to continue to speak out on issues of equality and diversity,” she said. “I believe that the quality of our lives is directly correlated to the quality of the laws that govern us.”
Before being chosen ABA president-elect, Bellows served as chair of the association’s policymaking House of Delegates (2006-2008), the second highest elected office in the ABA. Bellows chaired the Commission on Women in the Profession and served as a member of the ABA Board of Governors, where she chaired the Finance Committee. She was also president of the National Conference of Bar Presidents and chair of its Metropolitan Bar Caucus.
Bellows’ work in the law and her community has been recognized by many publications. Crain’s Chicago Business lists Bellows among its annual list of Power Players; in 2006, she was named one of the 28 Power Lawyers in the City by Chicago Magazine; she was cited as one of Chicago’s 100 Women of Influence in 1996, also by Crain’s Chicago Business; and Bellows was listed among Working Mother Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Working Mothers in the country in 1997.
Bellows served on the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on the Administration of Justice, and on the U.S. Senate Judicial Nominations Commission for Illinois. She has served as chair of the Chicago Network, a networking organization of diverse, professional women in the Chicago area. Bellows was the second female president of the 22,000-member Chicago Bar Association, where she founded the Women’s Alliance.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Loyola University School of Law, Bellows has practiced law for more than 30 years. She practices law with her husband, Joel, in Chicago. They have four children and four grandchildren.