I graduated from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois in May 2008. I sat for and passed the July 2008 Illinois Bar Examination, and was sworn in to practice law in the State of Illinois on November 6, 2008.
During my third and final year at JMLS, I took a total of fourteen (14) credit hours at school and clerked two (2) days per week for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Felony Trials Division at 2650 S. California in Chicago. While clerking for the CCSAO (from May 2007 through May 2008) I was able to utilize my 711 License and was afforded several opportunities to step up to the bench to present plea agreements to the judge, argue motions, and conduct bench trials. I also had ample opportunity to open new files, research legal issues and write memoranda, and prepare the daily trial call for the courtroom I was assigned to.
Prior to clerking with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, I served as a judicial law clerk for the judges in the 4th Municipal District of Cook County, Illinois (Maywood). I worked closely with the presiding judge in that district as well as several of the circuit and associate judges with criminal courtroom calls. I wrote legal memoranda on various topics, including statutory analysis, sentencing recommendations and procedural issues. Additionally, I assisted one criminal judge in getting an article published in the May 2007 edition of the Illinois State Bar Journal. I worked with the 4th District judges for a little over one (1) year, all while attending law school full time.
Since obtaining my law license in Illinois, I have been serving as a pro bono attorney for Cabrini Green Legal Aid in Chicago (www.cgla.net) since September 2009. CGLA is a not-for-profit legal aid clinic providing a variety of legal services to low income Chicago residents. I volunteer at CGLA’s Expungement Help Desk on the 10th Floor of the Daley Center; my duties there include determining if individuals are statutorily eligible for expungement and/or sealing of their criminal records and assisting these people in filling out and filing the appropriate court documents. Additionally, when an individual is not eligible for expungement and/or sealing of his/her criminal records pursuant to 20 ILCS 2630/5.2 et seq., I advise that individual about the executive clemency process in Illinois. I also represent individuals seeking executive clemency through the Illinois governor, which includes preparing and filing a Petition for Executive Clemency and Expungement, as well as representing the client at a hearing before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board. Moreover, I conduct client intake interviews at Cabrini Green Legal Aid, and then make recommendations to their board as to whether a particular case should be accepted.
Additionally, I have been volunteering for First Defense Legal Aid in Chicago (www.first-defense.org) since May 2010. FDLA is a not-for-profit legal aid clinic dedicated to serving members of the Chicago public who have been taken into CPD custody under criminal investigation. My duties as a pro-bono on-call attorney for FDLA include locating where a given individual is being detained by Chicago police for questioning, meeting with that individual and advising him/her of his rights under the U.S. Constitution, and protecting that individual from potentially coercive police interrogation techniques. Since a person taken into police custody pending formal criminal charges in Illinois may be detained for between forty-eight (48) and seventy-two (72) hours, it is critical that this person is represented by a qualified attorney, as the police generally have access to multiple Assistant State’s Attorneys to bolster their case against that person. FDLA essentially serves to level the playing field in this regard.
Criminal defense lawyers provide an essential service to the public and I feel privileged to be part of that community. Specifically with regards to criminal records law, I have come to realize that people desperately needed help in cleaning off their criminal records in order to obtain employment, housing, professional licenses, etc. I came to realize that not very many Illinois attorneys were focusing on this important area of the law and this was one of the main reasons I launched my own law firm in February 2010. Even worse, I saw many instances of bad or erroneous legal advice being given to criminal defendants in this regard. I realized there was an opportunity for a boutique law firm such as mine to develop and thrive. More importantly, I saw an opportunity to help individuals better themselves, both personally and professionally. I am honored to be able to provide this invaluable service to my fellow Illinois citizens.