Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride: From Solo to Supreme Court
Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride delivered the plenary speech to a packed house on Friday morning at the Illinois State Bar Association's Solo and Small Firm Conference in Springfield. The Chief Justice detailed his rise from legal aid lawyer to solo practioner to the Supreme Court.
Kilbride detailed his start as a young lawyer making $14,000 a year in 1981 at the Legal Aid clinic in Rock Island. He represented workers laid off during the early 80s recession from local factories.
Kilbride left the clinic to join a small law firm in 1987. He did insurance defense work and made partner, but became unhappy with the long hours and lack of control. He left and went out on his own in 1993.
He applied for associate judge three times, losing out each time. He finally won a much larger seat in 2000, joining the Illinois Supreme Court.
News and notes from Chief Justice Kilbride:
- He switched from a BlackBerry to an iPhone 4S (yesterday)
- Yellow page ads worked great for him (though he admits this was pre-2000)
- Make your clients happy; then ask them to refer their friends and family
- A law office in a prominent location may not be a good thing (some people want anonymity when seeing a lawyer)
- Some people correctly say he is "all screwed up" (he required 36 screws for injuries suffered in a biking accident)