Former Commission Chair Justice Debra Walker Receives Illinois Bar Foundation’s Distinguished Service to Law & Society Award

Judge Debra Walker Spotlight

The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to announce that former Commission Chair Justice Debra B. Walker received the Illinois Bar Foundation’s (IBF) 2022 Distinguished Service to Law & Society Award. The award was presented at the IBF Champions Breakfast on Friday, Dec. 9.

The Distinguished Service to Law & Society Award recognized Walker’s significant contributions to law and society, including her service to the IBF. Former Commission on Professionalism Executive Director Jayne Reardon received the award in 2017.

The IBF’s mission is to ensure meaningful access to the justice system, especially for those with limited means, and to assist lawyers who have fallen on hard times. Walker served as president of the IBF from 2012 until 2014.

Former Commission Executive Director Jayne Reardon, Commission Deputy Director Stephanie Villinski, Commission Chief Counsel Mark Palmer, Justice Debra Walker, and Commission Communications Director Laura Bagby

“Through her work at the Commission on Professionalism and other legal organizations throughout Illinois, Justice Walker has been a driving force in bettering the profession, seeking to ensure that it serves the needs of those who work within it as well as the people it supports,” said Erika Harold, Executive Director of the Commission on Professionalism. “On behalf of the Commission, I would like to congratulate Justice Walker on this well-deserved recognition.”

Walker was sworn in as a Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court (First District) on December 5, 2022. She was elected to the Appellate Court in November 2022, after serving as a Circuit Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Walker was elected to the Circuit Court of Cook County in 2008 and most recently sat in the Domestic Relations Division as a Team Lead.

Prior to joining the bench, Walker was a partner with Clausen Miller, P.C., where she focused on defending professionals sued for malpractice.

In 2001, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Walker to the Special Supreme Court Committee on Civility, which recommended the establishment of the Commission on Professionalism. She served on the Commission on Professionalism from its inception until her term ended in 2020 and was Commission Chair from 2012 until 2018.

Justice Debra Walker, IBF Champions Chair Cory White, and President of The John Marshall Law School Board of Trustees Paula Hudson Holderman

Walker has also served as the Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice’s proxy on the Illinois Judicial Pension Board, on the Illinois Supreme Court’s Commission on Access to Justice, and as a member of the board of directors for the National Conference of Bar Foundations.

Walker is a former president of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, the Illinois Judges Foundation, and the North Michigan Avenue Business & Professional Women’s Network. She is an active member of the Illinois State Bar Association, the Illinois Judges Association, and the Economic Club of Chicago.

Walker received a J.D. and a bachelor’s in accounting from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2019, the Alumni Loyalty Award in 2014, and the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award for Alumni Service in 1997.

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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