The Chicago Bar Association is pleased to celebrate 2022 Women’s History Month which commemorates and encourages the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. As a part of the celebration, the CBA is profiling a diverse group of women lawyers and judges who share their personal stories, their perspectives on how to thrive within the profession, their advice for women entering the profession and their predictions for the future. For a full list of the CBA’s Women’s History Month events and programs, visit the CBA’s website here: Women’s History Month (chicagobar.org).
Below is our featured interview with Iria Chavira, Division Chief and Senior Administrative Law Judge for the City of Chicago, Department of Administrative Hearings.
What is the most important lesson you have learned during your legal career about how to thrive in the profession?
Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to be authentic about who you are, what you value and where you intend to focus your time and energy.
What do you believe are the most important attributes of a leader in the legal profession?
Integrity and compassion. Do the right thing for the right reasons, even if there’s no audience. Be compassionate towards your clients as well as your colleagues. Recognizing and understanding another person’s point of view, even if you disagree, is so important in this profession.
Please provide an example of a person, or a quotation that inspires you. Explain why you are inspired by that person or quotation.
I have always been inspired by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She overcame a tremendous number of challenges and obstacles in her personal life and, as a woman of color, faced significant hurdles in her legal career. Her perseverance is inspiring!
Iris was the first in her family to graduate college, while raising her daughter as a single mother. Through grit and hard work, Iris put herself through law school in the evenings while working full-time.
Iris serves as Division Chief and Senior Administrative Law Judge for the City of Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings, where she supervises Administrative Law Judges responsible for conducting hearings in the Buildings Hearings Division. Iris is also an adjunct instructor at Morton College in Cicero, where she teaches Legal Writing and Research as part of their Paralegal Studies program.
Before joining the Department of Administrative Hearings, Iris was an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago Department of Law, where she handled complex, high-exposure civil rights cases in state and federal court and rose to supervisor of the Federal Civil Rights Litigation Division. Prior to joining the City of Chicago, Iris served as an Associate General Counsel with the Office of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. Iris began her legal career as an Assistant State’s Attorney with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, where she handled both civil and criminal matters.
Iris is a recipient of numerous awards for her professional achievements and commitment to public service, including the Hispanic National Bar Association Top Lawyers Under 40 Award, the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois Government Lawyer Award, the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois Community Service Award, and the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois Above and Beyond Award. Iris is a proud Double Demon; she received her J.D. and B.A. from DePaul University.