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Details | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

Grogan Signs Off


August 26, 2019

Jim Grogan – the face of the ARDC – retires this month after four decades of service to the Court, judges, lawyers and the public. As ARDC Deputy Administrator and Chief Counsel, Grogan has done and seen it all. In carrying out his ARDC responsibilities, he is unfailingly cheerful, welcoming, insightful, and helpful.

Grogan is well known and regarded in our profession. He finds himself in the company of other single name celebrities, like Oprah or Cher. Why do we call him “Grogan”? Grogan’s mother called her husband Jim. As that first name was taken, “Grogan” stuck in the family and everywhere else. “Grogan” is not just his name; it reflects his pride in a family that encouraged his engaging and positive approach to the life he leads.

So, how did the ARDC land Grogan? Forty years ago – by chance – the ARDC hired Grogan as a law student clerk because his classmate couldn’t take the job. The ARDC soon learned that Grogan brought a wealth of talent: an encyclopedic knowledge of art, history, politics, music and architecture; rhetorical and theatrical skills honed in college; and an insatiable curiosity and drive.

What has Grogan done for us? What will we miss (even though he has been preparing us for his departure for years)? While Grogan accomplished much as an advocate and earned promotions that now place him in the top leadership team at the agency, his helpfulness and cheerfulness are the constants that we will miss most. Those attributes are illustrated by the thousands of ethics inquiries that he helps others to solve. Each year, he fields countless inquiries from judges and lawyers. With a friendly, engaging, insightful, and respectful touch, Grogan educates each inquirer to come to an understanding of a “tricky” ethics issue.

Indeed, Grogan is an acknowledged expert in the law of professional responsibility. For decades, he has served as the ARDC’s designated liaison to the Supreme Court’s committee that makes recommendations to the Court for amendments to the rules of conduct. Grogan brings a practical and informed perspective, balancing the effect of a proposed rule on lawyers as compared to benefit to the profession and the public. In 2008, the Court acknowledged Grogan’s contributions by entering an order officially appointing him to serve in that liaison capacity.

Grogan is our ARDC ambassador, spreading our mission of helping lawyers serve clients effectively. Drawing on his artistic talents and his encyclopedic knowledge of the law of professional responsibility, his presentations hit the mark: his curriculum is designed for the needs of the audience and is interspersed with interesting historical anecdotes. No one is better at delivering a line that brings a chuckle – and understanding – to the audience.

Grogan has taken a leading role in teaching ethics to law students, first at DePaul and then for decades at Loyola. His example and his mentorship have inspired other ARDC staff counsel to teach at law schools.

As our media spokesperson for decades, Grogan enjoys a relationship of trust, credibility and respect with members of the media. That trust forms the basis of Grogan’s effective communication with the media. Often, Grogan provides information and context to a reporter, turning a story that could have been critical into one that expresses a more positive account of the agency’s actions.

Grogan is an innovator and problem solver. When the ARDC’s study of self-assessment educational offerings became stalled, he convened a “smoker,” laying out data showing that actively practicing lawyers without malpractice insurance and its related risk management support and their clients might benefit from an engaging, online self-assessment. The ARDC Commission adopted the program, which the Supreme Court later approved. Grogan led the team that developed the free, online, CLE generating self-assessment, which has received high marks from those who have taken the assessment.

Grogan is the Deputy Adminsitrator and Chief Counsel of the ARDC. He is involved in the highest level decisions of the agency. His voice and expertise are critical to the operation of the agency. Grogan describes the ARDC as a trailblazer in the lawyer regulator landscape. He himself is responsible for much of the vision that has informed the ARDC’s innovation.

Grogan has often been recognized outside the agency. For instance, he was elected to serve as an officer and then president of the national association of lawyer regulators. Last year, the Loyola Law Alumni Association recognized Grogan’s contributions to Loyola and the legal profession by conferring upon him its highest alumni award, its Medal of Excellence. In 2001, Grogan’s accessibility and accomplishments were featured in The Public Servant, the Newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Government Lawyers. Written by our dear friend and colleague Roz Kaplan, it is worth a read. It is available at

So, why is Grogan leaving a top level position at the ARDC? It goes back to family. His wife Lynn and he wish to spend time together and to be with their children and grandchildren.

Speaking on behalf of the ARDC family, we wish the Grogans well. We thank Grogan for his many, spectacular contributions to the ARDC, the legal profession, and the staff at the ARDC who are prepared, with the example and mentorship of Grogan, to take on leadership positions at the top level of the agency.