Patricia Brown Holmes is a highly respected and accomplished lawyer who focuses her practice on the areas of high-stakes commercial litigation, white collar crime and legal client counseling. As a former state court judge and experienced prosecutor and defense lawyer, she brings a unique variety of capabilities to her practice. Patricia’s comprehensive trial experience, coupled with her deft management abilities, position her as a valuable advocate and trusted adviser to her clients.

Prior to serving as an associate judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Patricia was an assistant U.S. attorney, assistant state’s attorney, and the chief assistant corporation counsel for the City of Chicago. She is one of only a handful of attorneys in the State of  Illinois who has tried cases in state, city and federal court as well as state appellate, federal appellate and state supreme courts.

Patricia has practiced in courtrooms at every level – as a prosecutor, defense attorney and as a judge. Given her familiarity with sensitive legal matters, she is also especially qualified to conduct internal investigations and serve as a co-leader of Schiff Hardin’s White Collar Criminal Defense practice group. Applying sound judgment, creative strategies and common sense, Patricia navigates complicated and delicate legal matters with appropriate discretion and poise.

As chair of Schiff Hardin’s Diversity Committee, Patricia also spearheads and encourages diversity initiatives at the firm. Due to her efforts, the firm has won multiple local, regional and national awards that recognize its commitment to diversity and tolerance.

Previous Experience

Prior to joining Schiff Hardin, Patricia served as an associate judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County for nine years. She previously served the City of Chicago as its Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel for Municipal Prosecutions, supervising a staff of attorneys practicing in chancery and municipal courts. Earlier, Patricia honed her skills in federal court, having tried more than 26 complex felony cases and argued numerous times before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. She also gained significant trial and appellate experience as an Assistant State’s Attorney for Cook County, Ill., arguing twice before the Illinois Supreme Court.

  • Experience

    Internal Investigations and White Collar Crime

    Patricia successfully conducts internal investigations at public and private corporations, governmental entities and nonprofit organizations. Her comprehensive experience includes matters involving financial and accounting fraud, corporate whistleblower allegations, contract disputes and mail and wire fraud.

    State officials frequently task Patricia to assist in investigating sensitive matters. Her experience includes:

    • An appointment by Illinois governor Pat Quinn to chair the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission, which promulgated rules and regulations and investigated claims of torture.
    • The completion of the investigation of the City of Chicago’s fire commissioner, who was charged with allegations of sexual harassment, and the alleged cover-up by the executive director of the Office of Compliance.
    • Service as the chair of the governor’s Cemetery Oversight Task Force. Patricia led the investigation surrounding the tragic incidents alleged to have occurred at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Ill. The investigation led to new legislation regarding cemetery oversight and the funeral industry.
    • Acting as a member of Senator Dick Durbin’s judicial commission to review candidates and make recommendations for federal judgeships in the Northern District of Illinois.
    • Co-leading the trial team that successfully defended former Hollinger International Inc. executive and corporate counsel Mark S. Kipnis against charges of federal mail, wire and tax fraud in United States v. Conrad M. Black et. al.

    Legal Counseling

    Patricia is a trusted counselor to high-profile clients and corporations. Her understanding of her clients’ business needs helps her to identify and achieve their desired business results. Her sophisticated and intelligent approach to legal counseling has been honed though years of successful partnerships in the public sector as well as high-level private corporations. She provides strategic and tactical advice to help her clients continue to do business legally and effectively. Patricia also knows how to communicate productively with government officials using credibility, clarity and tact.


    With her experience as a trial lawyer as well as her familiarity with both sides of the bench, Patricia is frequently called upon to participate in high-stakes litigation cases. She has been a member of the litigation teams in several major commercial trials and served as lead counsel in multiple class-action litigations

    In the courtroom, Patricia’s down-to-earth style readily connects with judges and juries. She credits her success with being able to tell her clients’ stories and communicate their objectives with sincerity and confidence.

  • Credentials


    • University of Illinois College of Law, J.D., 1986
    • University of Illinois, B.S., 1983

    Bar Admissions

    • Illinois
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)

        Professional Memberships

        American Bar Association

        Section of Litigation

        Section of Business Law

        White Collar Crime Committee

        Section of State and Local Government Law


        Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago, Inc.

        Past President and Founder


        The Chicago American Inn of Court


        Chicago Bar Association

        Board of Managers


        Blue Ribbon Committee on Juvenile Justice



        Governor Patrick Quinn’s Cemetery Oversight Task Force



        Illinois Judicial Council Foundation



        Illinois Judges Association

        Co-Chair, Retired Judges Committee


        Illinois State Bar Association


        Just the Beginning Foundation, Inc.

        Board of Directors



        Lawyers Club of Chicago


        Leadership Greater Chicago



        Seventh Circuit Bar Association

        American Jury Project Commission

        Teaching Appointments

        Adjunct Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law


        Adjunct Professor of Law, Loyola Institute for Paralegal Studies


        Instructor, Attorney General’s Advocacy Institute

        Criminal Trial Advocacy Section of the U.S. Department of Justice

      • Insights

        Other Publications

        "Attire: Your Most Overlooked Secret Weapon," (Chapter 4 Author) in From the Trenches: Strategies and Tips from 21 of the Nation’s Top Trial Lawyers (2015)

        Be a Perry Mason, Not a Denny Crane,” Chicago Daily Law Bulletin – Law Day 2013 (May 2013)

        “Environmental Criminal Prosecutions: Avoid Being One of the EPA’s Next Victories,” Governance & Executive Compensation 2011, Financier Worldwide (June 30, 2011)

        “Protecting Your Company’s Valuable Trade Secret Assets: Lessons Learned from Recent Federal Prosecutions of Criminal Trade Secrets Theft,” Illinois MCLE Marathon 2011, Practicing Law Institute (May 16, 2011)

        “Litigation: Guilty Pleas Preview Testimony in Galleon Insider Trading Case,” Inside Counsel (February 17, 2011)

        Corporate Officials Beware: Knowledge May No Longer Be Required for FCPA Liability,” (co-author) Bloomberg Law Reports – Risk and Compliance (April 2010); Republished in Bloomberg Law Reports – Corporate Counsel (May 2010)

        Grease Payments are a Thing of the Past as the Reach of the FCPA Continues to Expand,” (co-author) Bloomberg Law Reports – Risk and Compliance (March 2010)

        Speeches & Presentations

        “China’s New Anti-Corruption Laws: Paper Tiger or Pouncing Dragon,” (co-presenter) MCCA 11th Annual CLE Expo, Chicago, Ill.
        (March 22, 2012)

        “What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You: Using Investigations to Protect Your Organization From Loss,” Schiff Hardin Labor & Employment Breakfast Briefing, Chicago, Ill. (October 19, 2011)

        “When It's Gets Personal: Advice to In-house Counsel on Avoiding Criminal and Civil Liability,” ECOA’s 19th Annual Ethics and Compliance Conference, Bellevue, Wash. (September 21, 2011)

      • Citizenship

        Civic and Charitable Memberships

        Chief Judge James F. Holderman’s Magistrate Judge Merit Review Panel


        Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism Mentoring Advisory Committee


        Judge Ruben Castillo’s Magistrate Judge Merit Review Panel



        LaRabida Children’s Hospital

        Board of Trustees


        Senator Dick Durbin’s Judicial Screening Committee



        University of Illinois Board of Trustees

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      Patricia Brown Holmes Sits Down With Justice Ginsburg

      Partner and Chicago Bar Association President Patricia Brown Holmes Interviews Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on WYCC PBS Chicago's Justice & Law Weekly. View Video

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      Patricia Brown Holmes to Lead CBA.

      Judge Patricia Brown Holmes (ret.) has stepped into the role of president of the Chicago Bar Association, an organization she has served tirelessly for decades. More

      "Dedicated to Inclusion in Law"

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      "Having forged through the professional and personal morass that comes with being a black woman — a minority of a minority — Holmes possesses a sympathy that keeps her working inside and outside of her firm to make the legal community better reflect the country it represents." Read Article

      "Helping students with support from a posse"

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      "Her career has put her in position to assist other city students interested in higher education, a goal she has achieved through the Posse Foundation, an organization that creates scholarship opportunities for groups of 10 students to attend school together." Read Article