Orthodox Christian Attorney Network 2019 Conference
ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN ATTORNEY CONFERENCE
November 1-3, 2019
in conjunction with the
Christian Legal Society National Conference
The Westin Michigan Avenue
I thought the conference was great and I hope to go again next year…”
“I enjoyed the opportunity to network with Orthodox attorneys…”
“Loved lunch at the Signature Room! I also really liked the different backgrounds of all the speakers. I thought everyone was of really high caliber and had a lot of insight to share.”
These are but a few comments provided by some of the attendees of our recent Orthodox Christian Attorney Conference. Dozens of attorneys from across the nation gathered in chilly Chicago, IL on November 2, 2019 for a day of fellowship, faith and learning. Here’s what happened!
On Friday night the day before the conference, close to 20 Orthodox attorneys met for a casual dinner. Over delicious bowls of spaghetti, attendees had a chance to get to know one another. In fact, the turnout was so great, extra tables had to be brought in and people had to squeeze together like in any coffee hour situation at church.
The conference on Saturday was kicked off with introductory remarks and prayer by His Eminence Nathanael of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago. The conference then delved into a CLE talk by Dr. Ary Christofidis on mental health and well-being. He discussed the importance of finding time to take breaks from the difficult challenges of legal practice, and interspersed his talk with quotes from the Church fathers and other saints.
Congressman Justin Amash (I-MI) next delivered the keynote address on the intersection of legal duty, Orthodox convictions and public service. Rep. Amash discussed how his libertarian thinking stems from his Orthodox faith — he views life as a mystery of God and believes he should check his hubris by not determining things for others. Rep. Amash also discussed his family’s story of immigration to America from the Middle East where Christians experienced discrimination, and how that shapes his thinking on policies and laws.
After the keynote address, members broke from the conference to attend lunch at the Signature Room across the street. Thanks to the beautiful weather, the group could see the gorgeous Chicago skyline.
Following lunch, attendees went back into sessions for more learning and discussion. The first session involved speakers from a cross-section of legal practices: Judge Nick Ayoub of the 61st District of State of Michigan; Joan Berg, a real estate partner at Schoenberg Finkel Newman & Rosenberg, LLC; Violetta Kapsalis Buhler, an attorney who was formerly Regional General Counsel of Fannie Mae; Zoe Laird, a deputy district attorney at Arapahoe County DA’s office; and moderator Georgina Suzuki, an associate at Ropes & Gray LLP. The panel discussed the practical implications of answering God’s call, including what it means to be an “Orthodox Christian attorney,” how attorneys can handle ethical dilemmas in their professions, and how to maintain the sacraments despite the pressures of the billable hour.
The last panel of the day delved into how to serve Orthodox churches, parish councils, non-profit organizations, and the community. The panelists included Louis Milicich, counsel at Dentons; Eric Namee, a member at Hinkle Law Firm, LLC; Donna Haddad, senior counsel at IBM Data & Watson AI; and Bill Marianes, a retired partner of McGuire Woods. The panelists discussed how to handle and manage conflicts in such settings, from embezzlements to lawsuits. After the conclusion of the conference, attendees gathered for more fellowship over dinner that night and Sunday Divine Liturgy the next day.
If you missed this year’s conference, do not worry as there is more to come! Keep an eye open for more information regarding our 2020 conference in the Washington, DC area. We look forward to seeing you next year! If you would like to get involved in helping to organize such conference, let us know.
For more information and updates, visit the OCAN website at www.OrthodoxAttorneys.org.
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