“The goal is not perfection; the goal is excellence,” Randolph Stone, Clinical Professor of Law, is often heard saying in the halls of the Law School’s Mandel Legal Aid Clinic.
Stone, who was Director of the clinic from 1991 to 2001, has embodied this value to strive for excellence throughout his career, and is now being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers on Friday, Nov. 13.
“He has dedicated his entire legal career to promoting social justice and equality in the law,” said Carol Brook, Vice-President of the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a not-for-profit organization devoted to defending all individuals’ constitutional rights. “His dedication to giving voice to the poor and the disadvantaged, to children and young adults, in a system that regularly shuts its ears to their cries, is truly an inspiration to us all.”
Before coming to the Law School in the early 1990s, Stone was the first African American Public Defender of Cook County, Illinois, responsible for managing a $32 million budget and leading a 750-person law office. In that position, he significantly increased the number of women and minorities in that office.
He also has served as deputy director and staff attorney for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, partner in the Chicago firm of Stone & Clark, clinical fellow for the Law School, staff attorney for the Criminal Defense Consortium of Cook County, and as a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow for the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in Washington, D.C.
“When he became Director of the Mandel Clinic, he used that position to help his students understand the racial disparity that pervades our nation’s criminal justice system, while also creating programs to improve the advocacy skills of his students by introducing them to talented lawyers of all races,” said Brooks.
Stone is very good at gently nudging students to improve their work and at crystallizing and synthesizing information for colleagues, added Herschella Conyers, Clinical Professor of Law, who has worked closely with Stone on the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project since he created it at the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic more than 15 years ago.
“His expectation for excellence is really infectious,” she said. “He also has a collaborative sort of soul. He has taught me there is always another way of doing or saying things.”
Stone has been a past chair of the American Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section, and serves on several boards and committees including the Sentencing Project, Inc., Treatment Alternatives for Special Clients, and the Illinois Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee. In addition to clinical legal education, his teaching and writing interests have included criminal law, juvenile justice, the legal profession, indigent defense, race and criminal justice, evidence, and trial advocacy.
More information about the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers dinner in Stone’s honor at the Union League Club of Chicago, Friday, Nov. 13, may be obtained by contacting Angela Ramage-Wolf at (312) 401-8090 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org before Monday, Nov. 9.
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