Remembering A Champion of Professionalism

This week the legal profession lost a man who was the epitome of professionalism.

On November 1, 2015, former Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald passed away after his long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Justice Fitzgerald will be remembered in the legal community as a model of integrity. His commitment to advancing the quality of justice for those he served was unapproachable. He often reminded lawyers that they are guardians and champions of the legal process.

Justice Fitzgerald is most often acknowledged for his professionalism in presiding over the impeachment trial of Governor Blagojevich. However, he holds a special place in the hearts of those at the Commission on Professionalism for his work with the law school orientation program over the years. We will always remember and often repeat what he told law students:

Your reputation is like a fine china vase. Once broken, it is nearly impossible to put it back together.

Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court on Professionalism, Jayne Reardon, sat down with the former Chief Justice two years ago, and recounted several highlights of his career.

Former Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald was an excellent lawyer and a wise jurist who exuded clarity of purpose and kindness toward all.  His unwavering dedication to the law and to integrity will never be forgotten.

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