Hon. Christopher E. Lawler, (Ret.), senior mediator and arbitrator at ADR Systems, recently published a Letter to the Editor in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Referencing the central theme and final song in the 2006 Disney Channel Original Movie smash hit High School Musical, Judge Lawler encourages the legal community to “band together” amid trial-setting challenges and make mental health a priority within the profession.
Judge Lawler’s letter responds to the significant changes imposed upon the legal profession by the COVID-19 pandemic—good and bad. The world halted because of the pandemic, he wrote, and the once-busy halls and hallways of the Daley Center went silent. Court backlogs and trial-setting delays worsened. And yet remote work and the ascendancy of Zoom made it possible for lawyers to “get to four different courthouses without leaving their office, and travel time to depositions was eliminated.” Since joining ADR Systems in September 2021, Judge Lawler has himself settled numerous personal injury and commercial disputes remotely with the help of videoconferencing technology.
Even so, a question remains to be fully answered, according to Judge Lawler: What is the fallout from all of this? How will this change the collegiality and connectedness of the legal profession, the atmosphere of the Daley Center, and the wider city in the long term? In the meantime, Judge Lawler encouraged all members of the legal profession to be especially mindful of the mental health of those around them.
“Don’t forget the lessons of Judge Flannery,” wrote Judge Lawler, paying homage to the late Hon. James P. Flannery, Jr., former presiding judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County Law Division. “Graciously share your knowledge and experience. Reach out to colleagues if you have not seen them in court. A call, text or email with a few kind words can be a big boost. Stay connected and pay attention to signs a colleague may need help.”
To read Judge Lawler’s Letter to the Editor in full, go to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin website.
Hon. Christopher E. Lawler (Ret.) has more than 33 years of experience in personal injury and commercial matters as a respected litigator and sought-after pretrial judge. As a jurist, he pretried over 1,200 cases, handling some of the largest cases in Cook County history. Judge Lawler applies his legal knowledge and his experience from decades of community involvement to his mediations and arbitrations. His volunteer service has given him important insight into the needs of a wide variety of people, helping him to better facilitate the resolution of disputes.
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