Commissioner Hon. Mary Ellen Coghlan to Receive WBAI Mary Heftel Hooton Award

Mary Ellen CoghlanThe Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to announce that Commissioner and First District Appellate Court Justice Mary Ellen Coghlan will receive the Hon. Mary Heftel Hooton Award from the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois (WBAI). The Award will be presented virtually at the WBAI’s 22nd Annual Judicial Reception on Friday, March 5.

The WBAI honors members of the judiciary with the Mary Heftel Hooton Award for their exceptional leadership, professionalism, and efforts in advancing women in the law. In addition to Coghlan, former Commissioner Judge Jorge Alonso will also be honored with the Mary Heftel Hooton Award on March 5. Judge Alonso served as a Commissioner from 2017 until 2020. Since 2014, he has served as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Illinois.

“Justice Coghlan emulates Judge Hooton’s legacy of combining compassion and caring with justice, both on and off the bench,” said Martin Sinclair, Chair of the Commission on Professionalism. “We are thrilled that she recently joined us as a Commissioner and look forward to working with her to promote a culture of civility and inclusion in the legal profession. On behalf of the Commission, I congratulate Justice Coghlan on this honor. I would also like to congratulate Judge Alonso, whom I had the pleasure of serving with as a Commissioner for four years, on this award.”

Coghlan has served on the First District Appellate Court since 2019. She was appointed to the bench in 1995 and elected as a Circuit Court Judge in 1996. Coghlan served 24 years in the Criminal and Probate Divisions of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Prior to being assigned to the Illinois Appellate Court, she served as the Presiding Judge of the Probate Division. Before being appointed as a judge, Coghlan was an Assistant Cook County Public Defender and an Assistant Attorney General in the General Law Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

She currently serves as a member of the Cook County Circuit Court Associate Judge Nominating Committee and has previously served as a member of the Illinois Judicial Conference Study Committee on Complex Litigation as well as the Judicial Conference’s Executive Committee and Strategic Planning Committee. She was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to serve as a member of the Judicial Inquiry Board from September 2017 until August 2019.

Coghlan received a B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law.

She has served on the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism since 2021.

About the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism

The Illinois Supreme Court established the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism in 2005 under Supreme Court Rule 799(c) to foster increased civility, professionalism and inclusiveness among lawyers and judges in Illinois. By advancing the highest standards of conduct among lawyers and judges, the Commission on Professionalism works to better serve clients and society alike. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter @2CivilityOrg.

Press Contact

Laura Bagby, Communications Director


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