Executive Director Erika Harold to be Honored By CBA With An Earl B. Dickerson Award

The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to announce that Executive Director Erika Harold is a 2024 recipient of the Earl B. Dickerson Award from the Chicago Bar Association. Harold will be presented with the award at the 2024 Dickerson Award Luncheon on February 15, 2024, at the Union League Club in Chicago.

The award honors the late Earl B. Dickerson, a prominent Chicago lawyer and civil rights activist, who was the first Black graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and among the first Black members of the CBA.

The CBA established the Dickerson Award to recognize and honor minority lawyers and judges whose careers in the law emulate the courage and dedication of Dickerson in making the law the key to justice for all in our society.

“Throughout her career, Erika has been an advocate for justice, fairness, and honoring the dignity of all as a means to creating more inclusive and equitable legal and educational systems,” said John Kim, Chair of the Commission on Professionalism. “I congratulate Erika and the other recipients and recognize the important role they are playing in improving access to our justice system.”

Other 2024 honorees include Judge Maryam Ahmad, Circuit Court of Cook County; Christopher C. Cooper, Law Office of Christopher Cooper, Inc.; Nathalina A. Hudson, Chief of Staff, Office of the Illinois Attorney General; Byron F. Taylor, Partner, Sidley Austin; and Justice Carl A. Walker, Illinois Appellate Court.

“I am humbled to be recognized by the Chicago Bar Association, an organization that is in the vanguard of justice advocates, and included in this inspiring group of honorees,” Harold said. “As a civil rights lawyer, leader, and visionary, Earl B. Dickerson championed equal justice and equal opportunity, and I am honored to receive an award that celebrates his legacy.”

As Executive Director, Harold leads the Commission on Professionalism’s extensive educational programming, including virtual and in-person CLEs, focused on advancing civility, integrity, and inclusion among Illinois’ lawyers and judges to build confidence in the justice system.

Before joining the Commission, Harold was a commercial and civil litigation attorney at Meyer Capel, P.C. in Champaign, Illinois, representing clients at the trial and appellate levels in disputes regarding fiduciary and contractual obligations.

Earlier in her career, Harold was a litigation attorney at the Chicago offices of Sidley Austin LLP and Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C., representing businesses in commercial disputes and advising religious institutions on First Amendment issues.

Harold graduated from Harvard Law School, where she won a Boykin C. Wright Memorial Award for appellate advocacy in Harvard Law School’s acclaimed Ames Moot Court Competition. She funded her legal education through the scholarships and appearance fees she earned as Miss America 2003. Harold received a political science degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and as a Chancellor’s Scholar.

Previously, Harold served on the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Equality, as a Commissioner on the Commission on Professionalism, and on the board of Prison Fellowship, a national faith-based nonprofit that serves the incarcerated and advocates for criminal justice reform. Additionally, she served on the boards of Champaign County CASA and Trinity International University.

Committed to educating young people about the legal system, Harold has volunteered with Lawyers in the Classroom, serves on the teaching faculty for Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop, and is on the Steering Committee of Illinois LAW Pathways, the Chicago Bar Association’s new partnership with the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession.

She has been active in Illinois politics, running for Attorney General, and was a panelist at Fortune Magazine’s “Most Powerful Women, Next Gen” conference.

Harold often speaks on topics including legal professionalism, access to justice, free speech and civil discourse, civility in legal advocacy, and diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession. She is a recognized bullying prevention advocate and has spoken nationally about combating harassment in schools, workplaces, and courtrooms.

In recognition of her advocacy, she was named one of Fight Crime, Invest in Kids’ “Champions for Children” and received a leadership award from the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Harold is currently leading the Commission on Professionalism’s Bullying in the Legal Profession initiative, which is believed to be one of the first wide-scale research projects in the U.S. on this topic.

About the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism 

The Illinois Supreme Court established the Commission on Professionalism under Supreme Court Rule 799 to promote integrity, professionalism, and civility among the lawyers and judges of Illinois, to foster a commitment to the elimination of bias and divisiveness within the legal and judicial systems, and to ensure those systems provide equitable, effective, and efficient resolution of problems for the people of Illinois.

The Commission achieves this mission through professional responsibility CLE, lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring, legal professionalism programming, educational resources, and more. To learn more, visit 2Civility.org and follow us on social media.

Press Contact 

Laura Bagby, Communications Director

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