My primary practice areas are environmental law and commercial litigation. I have practiced in these areas for most of my career as well as in the areas of health & safety, banking, bankruptcy, creditor’s rights, and enforcement of obligations.
How has your practice evolved in the last few years?
In the last few years I have had the opportunity to assist businesses navigating the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program and the application process for medical cannabis cultivation licenses and dispensary permits. In 2015, a group of attorneys launched the Illinois Cannabis Bar Association and I currently serve as the Membership Chair.
In the next few years, I think there will be additional opportunities to expand the program. The Governor recently signed Senate Bill 10, which will allow for the extension of the state’s Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act through July 1, 2020.
If you could offer one piece of advice for young lawyers, what would it be?
Read your law school application essay and remember why you decided to become a lawyer. Get involved with organizations and activities that help you grow and pursue your passion.
What’s one technological device, application or tool you could not function without?
Besides my cell phone, I would say my breast pump. Yes, I know this is an odd technological device to share with the world. But it helped me continue to feed my babies after I returned to work. It also made me realize how hard it is to continue to breastfeed an infant while traveling for work or attending court hearings. In 2015, I had my first victory as a breastfeeding advocate or “lactivist”. The bill I helped draft in February 2015 made its way through the Illinois General Assembly and to the Governor’s desk. On August 2, 2015, the Lactation Accommodation in Airports Act, 410 ILCS 140/1 et seq., was signed into law. This breastfeeding legislation requires large Illinois airports to provide lactation rooms in each terminal by January 1, 2017. Smaller Illinois airports will be required to add lactation rooms when building new terminals or renovating existing ones. This Act does not change the current Illinois law which allows mothers to breastfeed their babies in public. Rather, it provides nursing mothers with the option of utilizing a private place to pump breast milk or nurse their baby in the airport (which includes a chair and an electrical outlet outside the confines of a public restroom).
Hopefully one day all of the courthouses in Illinois will have a clean, private space for nursing moms to pump in between court hearings or jury duty.
How has civility made a difference in your practice of law?
Positive displays of civility or professionalism usually take place when you are running to different court calls at the Daley Center or juggling competing deadlines. When someone holds the elevator, passes the case until you arrive, or works jointly to set case deadlines, those are the little things that make practicing less stressful. Be nice and don’t press the “close door” elevator button even if you are in a hurry.
What do you do for fun?
I spend time with my husband and family. I enjoy going to spin and yoga classes whenever I can squeeze them in.
Emily Masalski is Counsel at Rooney Rippie & Ratnaswamy LLP (R3) and a member of the firm’s environmental and natural resources, health and safety, and litigation practice groups. Ms. Masalski represents companies in all aspects of environmental and commercial litigation. She also has an appellate litigation practice.