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The Public Servant
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Government Lawyers

August 2002, vol. 4, no. 1

Someone you should know: Juanita Temple

Inspired to pursue a legal career when our country was experiencing political and social change due to Watergate and the Civil Rights Movement, Juanita S. Temple is the epitome of an accomplished attorney, brightened with skill while maintaining a watchful eye on the community. Temple has successfully balanced her home life, her spirituality, and community involvement, while pursuing her legal career.

Temple, currently Assistant Regional Counsel (Region V) in the Office of General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), didn't always aspire to be an attorney. With a bachelor's degree in French and literature from Ohio State University, Temple's early ambition leaned toward language and education. Eager to further her educational goals, Temple earned her master's degree in education, then later received her master's degree in French and literature. During this time, Temple began a family as she married and had two children. As our nation began to experience changes, so did Temple as she began to turn her educational focus onto the law.

After receiving her law degree from the Cincinnati Law School, Temple worked at The Grant & Thompson Co. and later accepted a position in the civil division of the Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati. Her time at Legal Aid was a "good fit" for her because the working environment allowed her to spend much needed time with her three children. Upon leaving Legal Aid, Temple continued her public interest career and secured a position as a staff attorney for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Temple enjoyed more responsibility at the Sixth Circuit when she became a case manager. She managed cases, directed staff, and kept abreast of all legal matters in this circuit.

At this point in her life, Temple experienced another career change. When her husband secured a position as the president of the community college system in Michigan, Temple sought and obtained a position as an Assistant United States Attorney in the criminal appellate division at the Office of the United States Attorney. But Temple's career changes and achievements were not over yet. As her husband, a dedicated academic, advanced in his career, Temple followed suit. When he received another position, this time in Philadelphia, Temple obtained a position in the U.S. Attorney's Office there.

When her husband became chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago, Temple hung her hat at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago. After spending several years there, Temple made her most recent transition within the area of government service when she accepted her current position at HHS. She emphasized that at HHS, like in all government service, attorneys assist others by making new law or disposing of cases in ways that have a positive effect on everyone. At HHS, Temple notably does this through her focus on the office's nursing home enforcement.

When asked why she switched from her long-term tenure at the U.S. Attorney's office to HHS, she responded that her caseload is much smaller and the pace is more suited to her familial commitments and other interests. This is certainly true, as Temple has always strived to maintain a balance between her home, work, and the community. Temple currently takes care of her mother who has Parkinson's disease. She also has a strong presence in the community as well. She is a member of the Cycle Program, which serves Cabrini Green children, on the board of La Rabida Children's Hospital, which serves children stricken with chronic diseases, and is a member of the Chicago Chapter of Links.

Temple's ambition toward maintaining a balance in her life has definitely paid off. Her children have become successful in their respective areas. One of her sons is a talented musician, while the other is studying economics at the University of Pennsylvania. Temple's daughter is following in her mother's footsteps by studying law and clerking for the Sixth Circuit.

Temple's advice to people is to "keep on keeping on. There will be disappointments, but don't give up." She also remarked that her status as an African-American woman has undoubtedly had an impact on her career. She recommended that persons who encounter adversity should recognize it and yet not accept it.

When asked what her future aspirations were, Temple replied that she would be content "as long as she could try cases." Spoken like a true government lawyer, Juanita S. Temple is definitely someone you should know.


*Doris J. Funches is a 2002 graduate of DePaul University College of Law.