CBA Executive Director Terry Murphy Announces Retirement After Legendary Career Spanning Nearly 50 Years

Terry MurphyAfter nearly five decades of distinguished leadership at the Chicago Bar Association, Executive Director Terry Murphy announced his resignation today, closing the curtain on a venerable career that has garnered widespread local and national recognition for the CBA for innovative legal programming, service to the community, and a steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion.  
Murphy, the CBA’s longest serving Executive Director, made the announcement today at a special meeting of the Association’s Board of Managers, after initiating retirement and transition discussions with CBA President Jesse Ruiz in early February.     

“That all of these years have passed in what seems to have been a heartbeat is a testament to how much I have enjoyed and loved the privilege of serving the past and present members of our Association,” Murphy stated in an email message sent to CBA members Thursday.  

“The CBA is regarded nationally and internationally as one of the leading metropolitan bar associations in the world and we owe this universal respect and admiration to each of you and to generations of past members whose leadership, vision, intellect, dedication to the law and public service met and successfully addressed challenges confronting the courts and our society. ” 
The Board of Managers has named the CBA’s Assistant Executive Director Elizabeth (Beth) McMeen to succeed Murphy as the new Executive Director effective Sept. 1, 2020.  McMeen, a University of Wisconsin law graduate, will be the first woman to the hold the position.

“For almost half a century Terry Murphy has dedicated all his time, talents and skills  building the Chicago Bar Association into the premier metropolitan bar association that it is today,” said CBA President Jesse Ruiz.  “Terry has served every CBA member with professionalism, and genuine care and concern. We thank Terry for all of his years of faithful service to our Association, its members, and our profession, and also thank his wife Karen and his family for sharing so much of him with us.”

Murphy began his career with the CBA in 1971 and has held many positions, including secretary to numerous standing committees, director of the CBA’s Lawyer Referral Service, staff liaison to the Centennial Committee, and Assistant Executive Director.  Following a national search in 1985, he was appointed the CBA’s 5th Executive Director in the association’s 147-year history.    
Over the course of his career, Murphy has played key roles in the development and implementation of many of the CBA’s leading programs, including the Lawyer Referral and In-Court Lawyer Referral Programs; as well as Dial-Law and Law at the Library, both collaborative partnerships with the Chicago Public Library offering public access to free legal services and information on a wide range of topics.  

Murphy was also a key contributor, along with CBA past President Thomas A. Demetrio, in establishing the Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth Program which provides tutor and mentoring services to young students from Chicago’s most impoverished communities.   

“Terry Murphy really is the heart of the Chicago Bar Association.  He has always been so competent in the job and he has done it with such finesse and class,” said Circuit Court Presiding Judge E. Kenneth Wright Jr., who served as CBA President in 2008-2009 and noted that Murphy had a very helpful and gracious way of welcoming new CBA presidents each year and steering them smoothly through their tenures.  

“Terry was never out of new ideas and new ways of thinking about things.  And he has always been such a tremendous steward and protector of the CBA and its members.  This was a job that he was made for, and he seemed to love every minute of.  He will be greatly missed,” said Wright.    

Murphy’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession has been a cornerstone of his leadership at the CBA.  He was a founding member and Treasurer of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession, a not-for-profit organization that works to acknowledge, understand, and address the reality of diversity in today’s legal profession and to promote inclusion in legal, judicial, educational and government institutions. 
“A lot of people talk about diversity and inclusion but Terry has always put words into action,” said Sandra Yamate, Chief Executive Officer for the Institute for Inclusion.  

“Thanks to Terry, the CBA has had diverse leadership earlier and in greater numbers, something that to this day most other bar associations cannot rival.  In those earliest days, he was the sounding board in designing and helping to fill a much-needed gap in the legal profession’s diversity and inclusion efforts.”  
Working with the CBA’s first African American President Chester L. Blair in 1990, Murphy was instrumental in the creation of the Earl Burrus Dickerson Awards.  The awards were established to honor Dickerson, one of the first African American members of the CBA, whose life and professional career were devoted to the law and helping others gain equality and justice.  The Dickerson Awards are presented annually to recognize and honor minority lawyers and judges whose careers emulate the work and commitment of Dickerson.  
Murphy also played a key role in the development, fundraising and move from the CBA’s original headquarters at 29 S. LaSalle Street to the current location at 321 S. Plymouth Court.   
“Terry Murphy is one of a kind, a visionary, and a legendary bar association leader.  Throughout his tenure as Executive Director, he always had his fingers on the pulse of the legal community, ensuring that the CBA was  providing leadership on legal and community issues as well as cutting edge resources for attorneys to enhance their professional development and grow their network and practices,” said Aurora Austriaco, Shareholder at Valentine, Austriaco & Bueschel PC.  

“Terry has brought the CBA local, national, and even international recognition because of his innovative ideas and collaborative style. As a CBA past president, I have seen Terry do his incredible work but can also attest that he genuinely cares about people, the CBA and its members.  I am so honored and proud to consider him a dear friend and a mentor,” added Austriaco, who served as CBA President in 2012-2013

Murphy was also instrumental in founding the CBA Insurance Agency, a subsidiary of the CBA that offers full insurance services for CBA members and Chicago’s legal community.  He was also a guiding force in the formation of the CBA’s Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the Barristers Big Band.  

In addition to his work at the CBA, Murphy was elected and served as president of the National Association of Bar Executives in 1989 and he was appointed by Mayor Richard Daley to serve on Chicago's Workforce Board.  He also served on the Ethics Committee for the Elmhurst Art Museum and serves as President of The Chicago Bar Association's Condominium Board of Directors.