Umberto Davi of Willowbrook, a principal in the Western Springs Law Firm of Umberto S. Davi P.C., was installed as president of the Illinois State Bar Association at the organization’s 139th Annual Meeting on June 19 at the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, Wis.
“Umberto is not only a lawyer’s lawyer, he is a gentleman’s gentleman,” Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride stated as he swore Davi in as president. “He brings to the presidency a classic combination of leadership, professionalism, humor, compassion, and the heart and soul of a hardworking small law firm lawyer.”
As the first immigrant to be sworn-in as president of the ISBA, Davi was proud to provide and display the Italian flag alongside the American flag at the ceremony. “I want to publicly thank this great country for welcoming and accepting my mother and her three children 50 years ago and for allowing us to earn money and become educated,” Davi stated from the podium. “Most importantly, I want to give thanks that my family could experience the American Dream.”
Davi came to America in 1964 with his mother and two younger brothers. His 42-year-old father had tragically died in an accident so his mother brought her family to America for better opportunity, independence and the freedom to attain her dreams. According to Umberto Davi, “my mother’s hopes and dreams were realized because she was able to earn a living, be independent, and raise and educate her children.” While Davi still maintains close ties to his family in Sicily to this day, he also realizes that his mother’s decision to move to America was the right one and has provided him even greater opportunities to grow, advance his career, and meet an expanded network of Italian Americans.
Like so many other first generation immigrants, it was quite a challenge for Umberto and his family to learn the language and acclimate to life in American, especially under the circumstances of having lost his father at a young age and being the oldest sibling, where he had to assume adult responsibilities also at a young age.
Nevertheless, he rose to the challenges along the way and through hard work and perseverance he dedicated himself to his profession, his family, his heritage, and to giving back to his community. According to ISBA President Leonard Amari, “Umberto is respected, charismatic, bright, and articulate and serves as a wonderful Bar association and community leader. He is a wonderful role model for those that follow him from The Justinian Society. Umberto climbed the ladder of the American Dream and makes sure that the ladder is there for those that follow him.”
During his year as president, Davi will concentrate on several initiatives. He will establish a special committee charged with exploring the expansion of the 711 limited law license that would enable qualifying law school students to work more directly with private law firm clients and to be able to appear in court. In addition, he will establish a special task force to address the implications of new client service approaches in certain legal matters, such as the Limited License Legal Technicians program recently enacted in the state of Washington.
A third initiative will focus on providing another practice tool – a library of Illinois-specific, automated legal forms for members of the association. Davi will also continue work to expand the Courtroom in the Classroom program, a joint project with the Illinois Judges Association. He will support the ongoing work of a task force examining necessary changes to what law schools teach students and he will bring substantive and management educational programs to members around the state, through a series of one day Solo and Small Firm Practice Institutes.
“It is a privilege and an honor to serve as president of such a significant organization as the Illinois State Bar Association,” Davi stated. “As the first to hold this position and remaining true to my Italian heritage, I am committed to leading with integrity, honesty, professionalism and compassion.”
Davi, whose law practice concentrates in family law and real estate, was elected to the ISBA Board of Governors in 1998 and re-elected in 2004, 2008 and 2011. Since becoming an ISBA member in 1982, he has served as an elected member of its 203-member Assembly, as secretary and treasurer of the organization and has been active on numerous committees.
Davi is active in several other bar associations including the DuPage Chapter Justinian Society of Lawyers, DuPage Bar Associaton, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, and The Illinois Bar Foundation to name a few. He is on the Board of Governors of the West Suburban Bar Association and is a member of Western Springs Business Association.
Davi was the Award Recipient of the Justice Anthony M. Peccarelli Award for Outstanding Service and Dedication As A Trial Attorney and also received the Justice Anthony Sbabarro Excellence in Mentoring Award. Davi has also been elected by his peers as a SuperLawyer for the past four years.
A past president of the Justinian Society of Lawyers and Willowbrook Police Pension Board, Davi is a Willowbrook Village Trustee. He helped establish the Sicilian American Cultural Association and is a lifetime member of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans.
Davi received his law degree from The John Marshall Law School, with Distinction, in 1982. A member of the school’s alumni board, he served as its president in 2005-06 and served as a trustee on the School Board of Directors. He received his undergraduate degree in 1976 from Western Illinois University, in Macomb, where he was a member of the National Honor Society.
The 33,000-member ISBA (isba.org), with offices in Springfield and Chicago, provides professional services to Illinois lawyers, and education and services to the public through a website (illinoislawyerfinder.com), consumer brochures, and distribution of legal information.