Randolph Stone Welcomes New Members of Illinois State Bar
University of Chicago Law School Clinical Professor Randolph Stone welcomed about 500 lawyers into the Illinois State Bar last week, encouraging them to find mentors and treat each case with seriousness and respect.
"Every case is big and important to the client and deserves all of our talents and interest," Stone said in his address to the crowd. "We have the rare opportunity to make a difference, and we should take advantage of that opportunity."
Stone was the first African American Public Defender of Cook County, Illinois, before becoming the Director of the Law School's Mandel Legal Aid Clinic in 1991. After his arrival, he helped create the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project. Stone was invited by Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court Thomas Fitzgerald to deliver an address and make the motion for admission when they were sworn in May 6 at McCormick Place.
In doing so, Stone urged the lawyers to look beyond monetary pursuits and find opportunities that allow them to help someone change his or her life, a service that will allow them to become better lawyers and human beings.
"While you're trying to pay your debts, provide for your family, educate your children, and enjoy the fruits of your labors, think about the less fortunate," he said.
He also recounted one of his first jobs after graduating from law school-work in a small experimental neighborhood defender office. When an old friend asked about Stone's job, he replied that he was handling "small cases," such as misdemeanors and minor offenses.
His friend's reaction taught Stone a lesson that he shared with the new lawyers: "There are no small cases, only small lawyers."