Richard J. Phelan Public Service Award


The Richard J. Phelan Public Service Award, presented by the CBF from 2004 through 2020, honored attorneys who had dedicated a significant portion of their legal career to the public sector, achieved excellence in their work and demonstrated a firm commitment to increasing access to justice for all Chicagoans.

This Award was presented by The Chicago Bar Foundation in honor of Richard J. Phelan, a leader who has masterfully blended public service into his legal career. Mr. Phelan, a past President of The Chicago Bar Association, is a retired partner at the law firm of Foley & Lardner and has represented clients in a trial practice that includes products liability, public law, intellectual property and reinsurance for over 40 years. From 1990 to 1994, Mr. Phelan served as president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners where he oversaw the largest unified court system in the country. From 1988 to 1989, he served as special outside counsel to the US House of Representatives Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in the matter of Speaker James C. Wright. In addition, Mr. Phelan has served as chairman of the Upstate Illinois Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers and dean of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Phelan Award Recipients

2020Marcia M. Meis2011Kendall Hill
2019Hon. Cheryl A. Starks2010Daniel A. Kirk
2018Mercedes Luque-Rosales2009Julie G. Sollinger
2017Sheri Mecklenburg2008Sergio E. Acosta
2016Deborah Hagan2007James L. Dunn
2015Leslie Landis2006Ann M. Spillane
2014Michael J. Pelletier2005D. Jean Ortega-Piron
2013Carol A. Casey2004Michael J. Morrissey
2012Laurel Spahn