Best bar association

Chicago Council of Lawyers

chicagocouncil.org

Founded in 1969, the Chicago Council of Lawyers touts itself as Chicago's "public interest" bar association, and it's earned the title. The council has lately and laudably been pressing for changes in criminal law and procedure, but its stock-in-trade since its inception has been its careful and challenging evaluation of judges. Mediocre judges have been far more likely to get a pass from the larger Chicago Bar Association than from the CCL. Voters, unfortunately, don't pay enough attention to judicial evaluations—they haven't voted a judge out of office in 21 years. But poor evaluations are an embarrassment, and so the CCL's appraisals keep judges on their toes. —Steve Bogira