2015 – Liz Ptacek

Liz Ptacek serves as the Supervising Attorney for Advocacy at the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic (DVLC), where she represents survivors of domestic violence who seek orders of protection at the Cook County Domestic Violence Courthouse.  In addition to managing her own caseload, Liz helps formulate DVLC’s position on issues ranging from legislation to initiatives and policy changes at the courthouse.  Building on her other work, Liz also creates legal strategies to help ensure that survivors who come to court needing child support, a safe visitation schedule, or a legal determination of custody are able to get all of the relief to which they are entitled.  During her time at DVLC, she has helped to ensure the safety of hundreds of victims of domestic violence and has fueled policy changes that have made the courthouse more responsive to the needs of DVLC’s vulnerable clients.  Liz is known for her fierce determination in the face of such a demanding caseload, while at the same time demonstrating considerable patience and empathy for her clients.

Liz’s deep commitment to public interest law was cemented at the University of Chicago Law School, where she was on the board of the Public Interest Law Society and the Chicago Law Chapter of the ACLU.  Each spring, she worked for the Mississippi Center for Justice in Biloxi through the law school’s Spring Break of Service.  Liz’s summer internships included working for the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Chicago Legal Clinic.  After law school, she briefly worked as an associate at SNR Denton, where she actively sought pro bono opportunities that led her to DVLC’s Pro Bono Project and ultimately her job at DVLC.  In addition, Liz teaches law students at John Marshall Law School about the Illinois Domestic Violence Act and supervises their work at DVLC.

As a result of her extraordinary efforts and accomplishments advocating for victims of domestic violence, Liz was awarded a CBF Sun-Times Public Interest Law Fellowship in 2015, a financial award that will help meet her law school loan obligations.  “I started law school with the hope that I could use my degree to help people, and I feel so fortunate to be doing just that. This fellowship doesn’t just provide significant financial support to my family; it also reassures me that the work I do is valuable.  On both counts, I feel supported in my public interest career.”