Former Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan has joined Kirkland & Ellis as a litigation partner in its Chicago and Washington offices.
First elected in 2002, Madigan served as Illinois’ top lawyer for 16 years—the longest serving attorney general in Illinois and the longest serving female attorney general in the country.
After completing her fourth term as attorney general this year, Madigan said that she knew she wanted to continue to practice law and that Kirkland’s entrepreneurial spirit fit with what she was looking for in a law firm.
“The best part of serving as AG was finding legal solutions to complex problems,” Madigan said in an email. “Kirkland will allow me to continue working on high-level legal matters on a state, national and global level. I’m very excited by the potential.”
The daughter of Illinois’s speaker of the House Michael Madigan, Madigan began her legal career as a litigator for Sachnoff & Weaver, which combined with Reed Smith in 2007.
In 1998, Madigan was elected to Illinois’ state senate before becoming attorney general in 2002.
Over her four terms as Illinois’ top lawyer, Madigan oversaw an office of 750 people and had a role in passing more than 150 bills into law as attorney general. The laws boosted consumer protections against predatory lending, increased citizens’ access to government meetings and records, and strengthened the rights of sexual assault and domestic abuse survivors.
She was lead negotiator in the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement with the nation’s largest banks following the 2008 mortgage crisis. In response to the financial crisis her legal actions delivered nearly $4 billion in relief for Illinois homeowners, communities and pension funds.
She was also the first Illinois attorney general in over 25 years to personally argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in Illinois v. Caballes, where the high court reaffirmed the ability of law enforcement to detect the presence of illegal drugs during traffic stops.
Her tenure was not without controversy, however. In December 2008, Madigan filed a motion with the Supreme Court of Illinois to temporarily remove then-Governor Rob Blagojevich from office following his arrest on corruption charges related to selection of a replacement for then-President elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat.
The court ultimately denied the motion, but Blagojevich was subsequently impeached and convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2011.
Madigan announced in 2017 that she would not run for reelection the following year.
In her new role at Kirkland, Madigan will handle high-level litigation, government and internal investigations, and crisis management work for its clients.
“Lisa brings a wealth of experience on many of the crucial issues our clients face daily,” chairman of Kirkland’s global management executive committee Jeffrey Hammes said in a statement.
“She has been a leader in the legal community, both locally and nationally, and her top-level advocacy and stellar legal skills will be an asset to our Firm and our clients.”
Madigan is just the latest Kirkland connection to some of Illinois’ highest offices. Former Kirkland partner John Lausch took over as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in 2017.
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