Lisa Madigan on “Public Service: Policy & Possibilities”

Lisa Madigan's seminars will be held at 12:30 PM on Tuesdays.

All IOP Pritzker Fellows Seminars will be held in the IOP Living Room unless otherwise noted. 
All seminars are students only and closed to press/off the record.


If you want to help people and effectuate change at the local, state, and federal level, there is no better position than state attorney general, according to Lisa Madigan. She should know. As the longest serving Illinois Attorney General, she has been at the forefront of AGs who have redefined the office. Madigan’s groundbreaking efforts include leading negotiations to reform the Chicago Police Department, opening an investigation into the sexual abuse of minors by priests in the Catholic Church, taking on subprime giant Countrywide following the 2008 financial crisis, going after abuses in the student loan market, protecting sexual assault survivors and initiating the Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act, litigating for the enforcement of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, and tackling many more issues in her 16 years in office.

It is no wonder that Madigan often described the IL AG’s office as the state’s largest public interest law firm.

But you don’t need to hold elected office or even be a lawyer to change the world! Madigan will share what she experienced and learned over 20 years of running for and holding elected office, discuss many of the issues she spearheaded, and help you determine how you too can influence public policy.

Guests to be announced. 

Seminar One (1/15): Why Public Service? | RSVP 

What makes people interested in public service? What are some of the defining moments that set someone on the path to a career in the public sector? Do we choose public service, or does it choose us? We’ll talk about why I’m here and how I got here, and why I chose to run for Attorney General – and stay in the job for 16 years. We’ll also talk about some of the issues that motivated me in my work as AG and the issues that motivate and concern you today– and make some decisions about what we want to examine together over the next 8 weeks.

Seminar Two (1/22): The People's Lawyer: The Role of an Attorney General | RSVP 

As Illinois Attorney General I ran one of the largest law firms in the state practicing civil, criminal and appellate law, managed a budget of $83 million a year, and interfaced with all branches of government. The AG’s clients are the state and the people of the state; they act both to defend the state and to file affirmative lawsuits on behalf of the state and the people of the state. With a staff of approximately 450 lawyers, the AG is involved in thousands of matters. Let’s walk through a day in the life of a State Attorney General – for example, January 27, 2017, the day Executive Order #13769 (the travel ban) came down. What did the AG’s office do? What else was going on that day? 

Seminar Three (1/29): How Do Attorneys General Use Their Power? | RSVP 

How do Attorneys General pick their issues and set their goals? Where do politics, policy and the law interface? What tools do AGs have at their disposal? We’ll look at litigation, legislation, advocacy, and other forms of action an AG can use to move the dial on policy issues and how they weigh the rights and needs of the public, as well as the strength and efficacy of their case, in taking an activist position on issues. Increasingly, State AGs have banded together on multistate cases to gain leverage against industries such as the tobacco and auto industry. They’ve also taken on presidential administrations and the federal government on issues like health care, immigration, and environmental policy. Given our complex legal system, how do AGs come together in our vast, diverse country, and what can they accomplish?

Seminar Four (2/12): The Supreme Court | RSVP 

How, and why, does a case make it all the way to the Supreme Court? What is it like to prepare for an argument? What is it like to argue? We’ll look at Illinois vs. Caballes, in which the Court upheld the ability of law enforcement to detect the presence of illegal drugs during traffic stops, and how we argued that case in front of the 2005 court. But today’s Supreme Court is very different. We’ll also discuss the makeup of the current Supreme Court and what ramifications it could have for future decisions.

Special Guest: Carolyn Shapiro, co-director of Chicago-Kent’s Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States, fmr. IL Solicitor General & fmr. Clerk for Justice Stephen G. Breyer

Seminar Five (2/19): AGs & the Environment | RSVP

What measures can states take to protect the environment? Some states are working to comply with the Paris climate change agreement despite the Federal Government having pulled out. As Attorney General Madigan successfully litigated the largest Clean Air Act enforcement case in state history, requiring the defendant to spend more than $88 million on pollution reduction projects at its Illinois facilities, and brought a Clean Water Act enforcement action against the Village of Crestwood, a municipality that knowingly used a contaminated well to provide drinking water to local residents. How can states use litigation today to fill the gap as the Federal EPA backs off enforcing regulations?

Special Guest: Howard Learner, Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

Seminar Six (2/26): Immigration: When States & the Federal Government Collide RSVP


Special Guest: Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director of the National Immigrant Justice Center

Seminar Seven (3/14): The Chicago Consent Decree in Context | RSVP

Special Guest via Skype: Vanita Gupta, civil rights attorney