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Former Illinois AG Lisa Madigan Joins Kirkland

Kirkland & Ellis announced Wednesday that former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is joining its Chicago and Washington, D.C., offices as an equity partner.

In an interview, Madigan said the firm offered her a “unique opportunity to work on complex legal issues that I have spent much of my career already working on.”

As the former chief legal officer for the state of Illinois, Madigan said she has experience dealing with issues relating to consumer protection, data and privacy issues, health care, the environment, and sexual assault and harassment.

“These are all issues Kirkland’s clients have as well,” Madigan said.

Madigan’s representation could put her on the other side of the table—or courtroom—from the attorney general’s office she oversaw for 16 years.

If a client came to Kirkland with a case involving the Illinois Attorney General’s Office that began while she led that office, Madigan said she would have to recuse herself. Those evaluations would be made on a case-by-case basis, she said, noting that the firm is used to integrating former officials and navigating potential conflicts.

She estimated that as attorney general her office was handling tens of thousands of matters involving the state at any given moment, and she emphasized that “I have extensive experience on the defense side as well.”

Madigan is among the most prominent Chicago prosecutors to join a Big Law firm since Patrick Fitzgerald and Zachary Fardon joined Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and King & Spalding, respectively, after finishing their stints as the U.S. attorney in Chicago. Stephen Patton rejoined Kirkland in 2017 after serving as the city of Chicago’s corporation counsel for six years.

Schiff Hardin hired Maggie Hickey after she completed a three-year run as the Illinois executive inspector general. Notably, Hickey is the independent monitor of the Chicago police consent decree Madigan negotiated for when she was the attorney general.

Akerman announced Wednesday that Ruben Castillo would join the firm after he retires from the Chicago federal bench at the end of the month.

Madigan said she wasn’t sure whether she would be taking part in Kirkland’s new push to expand its plaintiff workload, noting that she is still filling out paperwork to join the firm. Kirkland in July announced that it would begin to represent plaintiffs on a contingency fee basis.

Madigan was the longest-serving attorney general in Illinois and the longest-serving female attorney general in the United States.

She is the daughter of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and “despite being seen as a future Democratic star and mentioned as a contender for everything from governor and U.S. Senate to the Illinois Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court,” Lisa Madigan never sought a higher office, the Chicago Tribune noted in 2017.

Madigan’s decision to not seek reelection created a wide-open primary race in early 2018: Eight attorneys sought the Democratic nomination while the Republican race only had two.

Asked if she planned to run for elected office, Madigan said, “It is not my intention to do that.”