Sandy Blake was a late-comer to the legal field, but she has dedicated herself to making up for lost time.
Blake was a 1982 graduate of Clarke College (now University) in Dubuque, Iowa, where she double-majored in Spanish and Bilingual Journalism and enjoyed a junior year abroad in Madrid, Spain. Upon graduation, she taught and tutored Spanish, then accepted a position in the public relations division of Lions Clubs International. She served as the assistant editor of the organization’s international magazine for seven years.
She continued to work full time while attending law school part time at Loyola University Chicago. While at Loyola, she earned spots on the law journal and one of the school’s moot court teams. She also won a legal internship with The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington, D.C., where she researched, analyzed and wrote about freedom of information issues, and was a visiting student at Georgetown University Law Center. Upon her return to the Midwest, Blake secured a law clerk position with the Communications Workers of America, assisting in the representation of 60,000 union members in a five-state district. She also participated in an appellate practicum and argued a pro bono case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit before she was admitted to the Illinois bar.
Blake enjoyed a 14-year career with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. While there, she tried one of the first State-demand Violent Juvenile Offender jury cases at juvenile court. Among other highlights, she worked with law enforcement, health care providers and forensic teams on the investigation of sexual abuse of children, including multiple victim cases. She later coordinated and managed the one of the office’s drug treatment court programs. In addition, she earned a statewide reputation as an expert in expungement law.
Later, as a staff attorney at Life Span, Blake provided direct legal representation in civil court to battered women in a full range of family law matters, including civil orders of protection, dissolution of marriage, custody and visitation, parentage and child support.
Blake is now an assistant public defender in Kane County. In her current position, she represents respondents in civil mental health petitions, involuntary commitment and forced medication matters. She also defends respondents against involuntary commitment on Sexually Violent Persons petitions.
In addition to her work, Blake has served on the advisory board of the Proviso Children’s Advocacy Center and is the current president of the Clarke University Alumni Association Board. She is the secretary of the West Suburban Bar Association and a board member of the Catholic Lawyers Guild. She dedicates much of her time to ISBA committee involvement. She was one of the first women chairs of the Criminal Justice Section Council (2007-8), and chaired the Standing Committee on Women and the Law (2012-13) and the Diversity Leadership Council (2013-14). She is also serving her second term on the ISBA Assembly.
Sandy’s favorite thing to do in her spare time, though, is to spoil her niece and nephews. ■