Women’s History Month Feature: Judge Patrice Ball-Reed

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 Judge Patrice Ball-Reed of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

What is the most important lesson you have learned during your legal career about how to thrive in the profession?

A. Don’t be afraid to participate in more than one organization.  Most of the organizations that you participate in don’t meet at the same time.  You can volunteer to complete a task before the next meeting time.

B.  Also don’t be afraid to be the only one of your kind in the room.  Be it race, gender or practice area.

C.  Let your voice be heard.

D.  Be the best that you can be.

What do you believe are the most important attributes of a leader in the legal profession?

A. Consistency

B. Consensus building

C. Servant leader

D. Be bold.

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 more than one. 

A. Just do it!  Nike quote.  It speaks for itself.

B. My personality has 3 speeds: Hustle, Grind and Hardwork.  DKNY

C. A whistling woman and a crowing hen come to no good end.  My great grandmother, Isabella Clark, said this to me and I have been whistling and stepping out of my comfort zone since she said it years ago.

D. You can’t be it if you don’t see it.  I am not sure who said it.  I try to remain a role model for young people.


Honorable Patrice M. Ball-Reed is an Associate Judge in Cook County.  She received her B.A. in Economics from Trinity College in Hartford, Ct. and her J.D. from the John Marshall Law School now known as the University of Illinois  College of Law. Her initial position was as an Associate at Washington, Kennon, Hunter and Samuels in Chicago.  The next position that she held was at the Cook County State’s Attorneys Office where she served for 14 years.  Her initial position was as an Assistant in Child Support Enforcement then as a Supervising Trial Attorney in that Division.  She also served as a Supervising Attorney in the Property Tax Division before becoming the first Black Illinois Deputy Attorney General for Child Support Enforcement under Attorney General Lisa Madigan.  After serving at the Attorney General’s Office, she was appointed as an Associate Judge in 2008.   Her initial assignment was Traffic Court then Domestic Violence Civil Division for 6 years.  She is currently assigned to the Housing Court Division where she hears matters concerning Building Code Violations for the City of Chicago and Cook County and reviews Administrative Hearings.  

She is a Fellow of the American Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association. She is the Co-chair of the Education Committee for the IJA and serves on the United Supreme Court Jurisprudence Committee where she has presented for various seminars.  She has served as the President and a Founding member of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago.  She has also served as the President of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and the John Marshall Alumni Association.  She is a Lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago and Women’s Bar Association of Illinois. She currently serves as the First Black President of the Illinois Judges Foundation.  Her memberships include Justinian Society of Lawyers, Cook County Bar Association, Illinois Judicial Council where she serves on the Scholarship Committee, and the Illinois State Bar Association where she serves on the Assembly, Bench and Bar Committee, and Secretary of the Racial and Ethnic Minorities Committee and presented for various seminars. She is a Topic Editor for the Illinois Judicial Benchbook on Evidence. Her community memberships are NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Chicago Westside Chapter, NCNW (National Council of Negro Women) Chicago Midwest Chapter as Second Vice President, and TLOD (top Ladies of Distinction) Chicago West Loop Chapter as Treasurer. She has received various awards, moderated and presented on various topics.

She is married with three children and four grandchildren.

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