One PILI Alumnus who is really making a difference at a national level is Mario Sullivan, named partner at Johnson & Sullivan, Ltd., and current Chair of the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association. Mario has committed a substantial amount of time to improving the legal profession, helping young lawyers across the country, improving access to justice, improving our communities, and developing programs that help and encourage young lawyers to perform community service.
Mario was a PILI Intern in 2004 at the Chicago Legal Clinic, where he worked closely with staff attorneys to assist clients dealing with landlord/tenant issues, divorces, bankruptcy, and other legal services. His PILI Internship allowed him the opportunity to explore a range of aspects of practicing law, from being in the courtroom to discovery to client relations. He also learned practice skills that have been instrumental in his career, and came to personally understand the importance of giving back to his community through this sort of work. Mario says he found real satisfaction in being able to help people and remove some of the burden from their shoulders. “Seeing the peace and relief we brought to our clients was the best feeling ever,” he recalls.
Now as Chair of the ABA YLD, Mario has taken his commitment to service and giving back to a new level. Of the many initiatives he has championed and spearheaded during his Chair year, September 2013 through August 2014, he is most proud of their public service project, and anti-bullying campaign called “Bullyproof: Young Lawyers Educating and Empowering to End Bullying.” This is a comprehensive initiative that provides education and resources to help empower parents, educators, students, and young lawyers to help make bullying a thing of the past. The campaign has a website full of resources, including an inspirational video and a toolkit for download.
“I am so proud of Bullyproof and everything we have done,” Mario says. “I think it is important that everyone get involved and help end bullying, but I believe lawyers are in the best position to make a difference.” He explains that this is because lawyers can lobby for laws to assist in ending bullying by providing clear definitions and guidelines, lawyers have the training to explain the laws in terms that students, teachers, and administrators can understand, and lawyers have the ability to train teachers and administrators on the correct way to address bullying. Of no small consideration too is that fact that, as Mario says, “the nation’s youth listen when lawyers speak.” Because of this, Mario feels lawyers are uniquely positioned to advance the cause of anti-bullying and ensure safe environments for today’s youth. “Our profession has a history of making a difference and changing the nation for the better of all its people,” Mario explains. “The legal profession needs to take the next step in ending bullying.”
Mario has been involved with the ABA since early in his legal career. He was a law school representative for the Board of Governors, and after graduating from The John Marshall Law School in 2005, he joined the ABA YLD, where he was first the representative for the National LGBT Bar Association, and later the Diversity Director, the Conference, Program, and Products Director, and Secretary/Treasurer, in addition to other leadership roles on other committees. “Being a part of the ABA Young Lawyers Division has provided me with the opportunity to assist all young lawyers across the country and develop programs to help the communities we serve.” In addition to Bullyproof, under Mario’s leadership this year the ABA YLD is undertaking several other exciting projects, including “Ask An Experienced Lawyer,” a database of lawyers across the country whom young lawyers can contact for advice and staring points. “Speaking with law students, new members to the profession, and our friends overseas, I continue to see that young lawyers around the world are facing the same challenges in a difficult economy and I know that together we can get through this,” Mario said at the ABA Midyear Meeting last month. “It is a great honor to Chair an organization such as ABA YLD that is dedicated to the success of all young lawyers and with great leaders sharing one common goal: moving the profession forward.”