The Honorable Abner Mikva (LLM '91), Senior Director and Visiting Professor at the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic of the University of Chicago, will speak on legal ethics as part of a public lecture series at Northwestern University School of Law.
His speech, “Legal Ethics: A coincidence, a command, or an oxymoron,” is part of the School of Law's Pope & John Lecture Series on Professionalism and will take place Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 5:30 p.m. in Rubloff 150. This event is free and open to the public.
Judge Mikva is among a small group of public figures who have worked in all three branches of the federal government. He served 15 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, including a stint as Chief Judge. Before coming to the bench, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives for five terms, representing portions of Chicago and its suburbs. He also worked as White House Counsel to President Clinton from 1994 to 1995.
He started his political career in 1956 in the Illinois House of Representatives, where he served five consecutive terms. While in Congress, Judge Mikva served on both the Ways and Means Committee and the Judiciary Committee, where, as chairman, he helped enact a new criminal code for Illinois as well as a new mental health code. He was appointed to the bench on September 27, 1979, and became Chief Judge on January 21, 1991.
Judge Mikva received his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1951, graduating cum laude. Following law school, he clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sherman Minton. After his clerkship, he returned to Illinois and entered the practice of law, becoming a partner of the late Justice Arthur Goldberg. His practice included extensive litigation and appellate work, and he presented several constitutional cases to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judge Mikva is the co-author of a political science text, The American Congress: The First Branch, and co-authored law school textbooks on the legislative process. He has taught courses at Northwestern Law, Duke University, Georgetown University, the University of Pennsylvania, American University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois.
He received the Paul H. Douglas Ethics in Government Award through the University of Illinois and the Alumni Medal of the University of Chicago. He also holds numerous honorary degrees, and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a founding member and serves on the Advisory Board of the American Constitution Society, which now has student chapters at more than 150 law school campuses and lawyer chapters in numerous cities.
He and his wife, Zoe, helped found the Mikva Challenge, which inspires Chicago high school students to participate in elections and civic activities, develop leadership skills, and delve into complicated issues of public policy that affect their lives. Judge Mikva also engages in arbitration and mediation work with JAMS, a national dispute resolution firm. In July 2006 Governor Rod Blagojevich named Mikva chair of the Illinois Human Rights Commission.
In 1991 the Chicago firm of Pope & John Ltd. established a lecture series at Northwestern Law. Each year the Pope & John Lecture on Professionalism focuses on the many dimensions of a lawyer's professional responsibility, including legal ethics, public service, professional civility, pro bono representation, and standards of conduct. The series is part of the Law School's Program on Advocacy and Professionalism, which is directed by Professor Steven Lubet.