Public Interest Law Initiative

PILI Alumni Spotlight: Cara Hendrickson, 2001 Graduate Fellow

Posted on: July 8, 2015

Cara Hendrickson

PILI Alumna Cara Hendrickson has worked in almost every branch of the legal profession, holding positions in the private bar, public interest sector and government. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 2001, she was hired by Kirkland & Ellis LLP and completed a PILI Graduate Fellowship at Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, or BPI.

Cara’s PILI Fellowship allowed her to see how different parts of the legal community could work together for the public interest. “PILI is a very good model for cooperation between the private bar and the public interest, and I’ve drawn on that model in the rest of my career,” she says.

The PILI Fellowship also opened up opportunities for Cara to build bridges. “Through PILI, I built relationships that I would not have otherwise built.” Her aptitude for cooperation and collaboration has stayed with her throughout her legal career. After her PILI Fellowship, she went on to work as an associate at Kirkland, and then as a law clerk for Judge Ann Claire Williams. In 2003, she received a Skadden Fellowship and returned to BPI, where she used research she had done at Kirkland to work on affordable housing and public housing issues.

After her Skadden Fellowship, Cara became a partner at Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. where she worked as a civil rights attorney for over eight years. During this time, she represented many underserved clients, including victims of warrantless law enforcement raids, a federal inmate who received inadequate medical care and died in solitary confinement, and aldermen seeking to review police records.

Now, Cara puts her cross-sector collaboration skills to use as the Chief of the Public Interest Division for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. At the Attorney General’s Office, she oversees six bureaus, including public utilities, disability rights, civil rights, tobacco enforcement, antitrust and special litigation.  She also manages affirmative litigation, supervises legislative initiatives, and guides policy programs related to the Division’s priorities.

From her PILI Fellowship at BPI to her work at the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Cara has always looked for collaborative opportunities and her goal has always been clear:  to “pursue the public interest on behalf of the people of Illinois.”

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