RAND Office of Media Relations
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August 26, 2004
Raymond I. Skilling, a senior advisor to Aon Corporation in Chicago, is the new chair of the Board of Overseers of the RAND Corporation's Institute for Civil Justice (ICJ). Product liability attorney Sheila L. Birnbaum of New York City has been appointed to the newly created position of vice chair of the board.
Skilling earlier served as director, executive vice president and chief counsel of Aon and its predecessor companies for more than 20 years. Aon is one of the world’s leading insurance brokerage, risk management and consulting firms. Prior to joining Aon, Skilling was a partner in the international law firm now called Clifford Chance.
Skilling succeeds James A. Greer II, a former senior partner in the firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Leiby & MacRae in New York City, as chair of the ICJ Board of Overseers. Greer remains on the board.
The ICJ, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is widely regarded as the nation's leading research institution focusing on the civil justice system. The ICJ's mission is to help make the civil justice system more efficient and equitable by supplying government and private decisionmakers with the results of objective, empirically based, analytic research.
The Board of Overseers plays a crucial, active role in the life of the ICJ. The board is composed of a balanced group of plaintiffs' lawyers, defense lawyers, judicial officers, insurers, and representatives from other industries and from consumer and labor groups. It advises the ICJ staff on the development of new research projects, consults researchers on issues of impartiality and autonomy in reporting results, and helps to build support for the ICJ and its mission.
Board members include senior corporate officials and general counsels, senior partners of major law firms, consumer and labor organization executives, senior members of the judiciary and leading academic scholars.
“The Institute for Civil Justice has benefited enormously from both Raymond Skilling's and Sheila Birnbaum's presence on our Board of Overseers,” said ICJ Director Robert A. Reville. “Both have an unmatched understanding of the civil justice system that helps us pursue our goal of conducting balanced and empirical research about the major challenges facing the civil justice system.”
The ICJ's research has influenced the widespread adoption of alternative dispute resolution programs in state courts and the discontinuation of ineffective judicial case management provisions in the Civil Justice Reform Act. ICJ research has also influenced reforms of tort procedures, federal product liability guidelines, Superfund cleanup programs and California’s workers' compensation system.
Skilling earned an LL.B. degree at Queen's University of Belfast before receiving a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. He qualified as a Solicitor of the English Supreme Court and was admitted to the Bar of Illinois. He serves on the International Advisory Board of the British American Business Council, as well as on the Boards of Combined Insurance Company of Europe Ltd. and of London General Insurance Company Ltd. He also serves on the Boards of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and of the Queen's University of Belfast Foundation.
Birnbaum is a partner with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York City and heads the firm's product liability department. As vice chair, Birnbaum will assume leadership of the Board of Overseers in 2006. She earned her LL.B. at New York University School of Law, and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees at Hunter College.
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