A Legacy of Leadership
Active participation in bar associations and other legal service organizations is a part of the Corboy & Demetrio ethic. Thomas A. Demetrio readily acknowledges that when it comes to serving the bench and bar, the firm has indoctrinated all the partners and associates to take the time, effort, and energy to get involved in the work of the organized bar.
Phil Corboy served as president of the Chicago Bar Association (CBA) from 1972 to 1973. During his term, Corboy articulated a long-range plan to reduce backlogs and expedite justice in our court system. He maintained that lawyers must act to meet rising public expectations and to effect a judicial delivery system, which makes the promise of justice and efficiency under the law a reality. He urged that these efforts, however, should not be restricted to the confines of the courthouse, with injustice left in the streets. He advocated that the CBA must be a force for decency and progress in the community.
Thomas Demetrio assumed the CBA presidency from 1992 to 1993. He focused on public education programs, which highlighted the importance of the law and the role of lawyers in our society. He extolled the affirmative benefits that lawyers, to whom prosperity has come through the promotion of justice, give back to their communities. Countless lawyers are responsible for innumerable good works throughout the city. He worked aggressively to publicize the CBA’s judicial evaluation results to inform the electorate which judges, in the largest unified court system in the United States, deserved retention. He hosted a weekly cable television series–"You and the Law"–to heighten public awareness of the value of our legal system, which often is not appreciated until a loved one is horribly injured or an injunction is needed. One of Thomas’ greatest accomplishments as President was implementation of the Lend-A-Hand program which is now known as the Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Lend-A-Hand Program. The mission of the organization is to encourage professionals to "lend a hand" to at-risk young people by providing resources for mentoring projects in Chicago's neediest neighborhoods. Since the planting of its first "seeds" in 1993, Lend-A-Hand has grown from sponsorship of one mentoring project with the Boys and Girls Clubs to a source of volunteers, funding and in-kind resources for hundreds of community-based organizations serving inner-city youth. Over the years, the grants awarded by the Program to deserving grassroots mentoring programs have totaled over $1.7 million.
In 2003, Michael K. Demetrio, Thomas’ brother, became President of the CBA. It was the first time in the CBA’s 130 year history that two brothers held the office. During his term, Michael worked tirelessly to significantly enlarge the Lend-A-Hand program. Through his efforts, award money, volunteer hours and "Tickets for Kids"- a program that collects tickets to cultural, civic and sporting events from CBA members to be distributed to children - increased greatly. Michael had been a long time supporter of the Lend-A-Hand Program. In 1993, in honor of his brother, he established and initially funded the "Thomas A. Demetrio Lend-A-Hand Award" which is conferred annually to an outstanding mentoring program. Michael also worked during his presidency to ensure that CBA members were aware of all the programs and services the Association provided. To that end, he instituted monthly open houses for member and prospective members which also promoted fellowship in the Association. One of Michael’s proudest accomplishments during his term was the adoption by the CBA of the William C. Goudy school, a culturally and racially diverse school in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. William C. Goudy, an Illinois statesman and attorney, was the CBA’s first President in 1874. The Association continues its support of the school today with a variety of programs including an annual school supply drive, a holiday party for students, and financial support of the music program. Retired Partner René A. Torrado, Jr., also served as CBA President. After having served as its general counsel from 1988 through 1995, René assumed leadership from 1995 to 1996. During his tenure, René focused on expanding the CBA’s mentoring programs to disadvantaged youths, keeping the legislature and public informed of the work being done by judges and exploring the needs of young lawyers.
Corboy & Demetrio has also provided leadership for a number of fund-raising efforts. When funds were sought for building a permanent home for the CBA, Corboy & Demetrio pledged the single largest gift from an individual or firm to the Partnership for the Future campaign. In recognition of this gift, the main dining room in the architecturally distinct Plymouth Court headquarters was named "Philip H. Corboy Hall." To help reduce the Association’s mortgage on its new headquarters, Thomas Demetrio launched and chaired Campaign 2000, which was successful in accomplishing its goal. Thomas also chaired the Downtown Center Campaign to raise funds for the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law and chaired the Campaign to endow the Professor Ralph Brill Chair at the College.
To ensure a quality judiciary, attorneys at the firm have provided leadership by their tireless work on the Judicial Evaluation Committee. Philip Corboy, Jr., served as General Chairman of CBA’s 250-member Committee from 1990 to 1991. Many lawyers in the firm, including Francis Patrick Murphy, Michelle M. Kohut and Daniel S. Kirschner, have volunteered countless hours as investigators and hearing officers. This service affirms the firm’s belief that every lawyer has a responsibility to ensure public respect and confidence in our judiciary and allows provision of nonpartisan, publicly disseminated evaluations of sitting judges running for retention or lawyers seeking election or appointment to the bench.
The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), a statewide organization of over 2,000 attorneys that seeks to secure and ensure the rights of injured consumers and workers, has enjoyed a long history of support from our firm and its attorneys. Four C&D attorneys - including Philip H. Corboy, Thomas A. Demetrio and Philip Corboy, Jr. - have served as President of this vital organization. All have worked diligently to protect consumers rights, to promote fair, prompt and efficient administration of justice, and to defend everyone’s right to a trial by jury. Managing Partner Kenneth T. Lumb and Partner William T. Gibbs currently serve on ITLA's Board of Directors, and Partner Michael K. Demetrio has served on ITLA’s Board of Managers in the past. Also, firm lawyers avidly volunteer for a wide array of committee activities, ranging from membership initiatives to writing amicus briefs.
Philip Corboy. Jr. is a past President of the Board of Directors of the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, Illinois’ largest legal aid program for low income people.
Appointed by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Philip serves on a screening committee to assist the Senator in selecting Federal District Court Judges, U.S. Attorneys, and U.S. Marshals for the Northern District of Illinois.
Philip also serves on the Equal Justice Illinois Campaign Blue-Ribbon Committee where he works to increase state funding of civil legal aid so that all Illinois residents, regardless of income, have access to the justice system.
Partner Michelle M. Kohut served as President of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois from 2013-2014 and remains active in the group, which promotes the interests and welfare of women lawyers and aids in the enactment of legislation for the common good and in the administration of justice.
Partner David R. "Chip" Barry, Jr., has served as President of The Society of Trial Lawyers, an organization of litigation attorneys that promotes and encourages high ethical standards in trial work and fosters a spirit of cooperation and support among attorneys. Chip was previously President of the Trial Lawyers Club of Chicago.
By appointment of the Illinois Supreme Court, the late Phil Corboy sat on the inaugural Committee on Jury Instructions in Civil Cases, followed by two decades of service. In 1976, Thomas Demetrio was appointed for the first of his two ten-year terms.
Daniel Kirschner and Edward G. Willer were appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on Character and Fitness, which is an advisory role to the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar. The Illinois Supreme Court also appointed Dan to its Rules Committee.
Our attorneys also serve the Federal bench. Michael K. Demetrio was appointed by Chief Judge Charles Kocoras as Chairman of the Magistrate Retention Review Committee for the United District Court, Northern District of Illinois in 2003 and as Chairman of the United States Magistrate Nominating Committee for the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois from 2004 to 2005. Last year, Michael was appointed to the United States Magistrate Nominating Committee for the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois by Chief Judge James Holderman. Since 1983, Thomas Demetrio has been an instructor in the Federal Trial Bar Advocacy Program.
The firm is very proud that many of its distinguished alumni have assumed the mantle of bar leadership. From 1997 to 1998, Patricia C. Bobb and Todd A. Smith served concurrently as presidents of the CBA and Illinois State Bar Association, respectively. With Ms. Bobb’s assumption to this office, Corboy & Demetrio has had seven lawyers who have served as CBA president. Along with Phil Corboy, Thomas Demetrio, Michael Demetrio and Rene Torrado, Richard J. Phelan and the late John D. Hayes were also CBA presidents. Hayes also held a term as president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, as did alumni John Cashion, Robert Clifford, James Demos, and Albert Hofeld. In addition, four C&D alumni have become president of the Illinois State Bar Association - Albert Holfeld, Terry Lavin, Tom Leahy and Todd Smith and one has become president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, now known as the American Association for Justice - Todd Smith.
The firm is also proud to acknowledge that its alumni include several jurists. Kenneth S. Gillis, John F. Gustafson, the late Charles M. Loverde, and the late Richard LeFevour, all judges in the Circuit Court of Cook County, were once lawyers at Corboy & Demetrio.