Insight

Meet Patricia Brown Holmes, the Lawyer Representing Jussie Smollett

Patricia Brown Holmes had a celebrated career long before she began defending Jussie Smollett.

Who Is Jussie Smollett's Lawyer
Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers

April 2, 2019 03:33 PM

On March 26, prosecutors dropped all 16 counts of disorderly conduct against Jussie Smollett, citing a lack of confidence that the “Empire” actor would be convicted. The dropped charges concluded one chapter of a months-long ordeal for Smollett, who has been in the spotlight since reporting himself to Chicago police as the victim of a hate crime—then being charged himself for allegedly staging the attack.

Throughout the investigation, Smollett retained top legal representation from Patricia Brown Holmes, managing partner of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila in Chicago. Holmes’ long career far precedes her work on Smollett’s case, having served as a prosecutor, defense attorney, and a judge who has tried cases in state, city, federal, state appellate, and state supreme courts. Read on for everything you need to know about the celebrated litigator.

Who is Patricia Brown Holmes?

Before turning her practice to commercial litigation and white-collar crime, Holmes served as an assistant district attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and tried 26 felony cases before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She also served as an assistant state’s attorney for Cook County and argued twice before the state’s Supreme Court. Then, she served for nine years as the associate judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. After joining private practice, Holmes won a succession of significant cases, including in the defense of executive Mark S. Kipnis against charges of federal mail, wire, and tax fraud.

Notably, Holmes is the first African-American woman to achieve her position of leadership within a law firm of its size that is not women- or minority-owned.

What were her biggest cases?

Along with her defense of Smollett, Holmes made headlines for her role in these cases:

Honorable mentions

Holmes has received numerous awards and professional recognitions over her decades-long career.

  • She is a past president of the Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago, Inc., as well as a founding member of the organization and the recipient of its 2005 Visionary Award and 2017 Vanguard Award.
  • She is a past president of the Chicago Bar Association (2015-2016) and received its 2013 Dickerson Award.
  • Holmes is a member of the Cook County Bar Association and received the Centennial Presidential Award for Dedication to the Bar (2014) and the Judicial Award (1998).
  • Holmes was given the Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois Judicial Council Foundation in 2005.
  • Holmes has been listed with Best Lawyers since 2011.

Where can I read her work?

Holmes is a frequent contributor to Best Lawyers and our Business Editions. You can read her 2018 article, “The Profit in Nonprofits,” and her 2017 cover story, “Benefits and Mechanics of Diverse Partner Integration,” on our website.

Check back for her forthcoming verdict column in our 2019 “Women in the Law” Business Edition.

Feature image via Wind City Live

Related Articles

Funding for University Programs Takes a Hit


by Joseph Begonis

Plus more news on Canada's Best Lawyers 2020

Funding Cuts for Canadian University Programs

In the News: New York


by Best Lawyers

News and Events for New York Lawyers

In the News: New York

In the News: Northern California


by Best Lawyers

News and notes from lawyers in Northern California

In the News: Northern California

In the News: Tampa


by Best Lawyers

In the News: Tampa

In the News: Tampa

In the News: New England


by Best Lawyers

A roundup of relevant news for listed lawyers in New England.

New England Legal News

In the News: Pennsylvania


by Best Lawyers

A legal news roundup of listed lawyers in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Legal News Roundup

In the News: Georgia


by Best Lawyers

Trinity Hundredmark wins a Moxie Award; Pete Robinson joins King & Spalding; and L. Lin Wood goes against Elon Musk.

Georgia Legal News Headlines

ACLU Charges Racist Practices Against Aurora Police


by Best Lawyers

A look at the listed lawyers making headlines in Colorado.

In the News: Colorado 2019

In the News: Tampa


by Best Lawyers

A roundup of relevant news from listed lawyers in Tampa.

Tampa News Legal Roundup

In the News: Southern California


by Best Lawyers

A roundup of notable news of listed lawyers in Southern California.

Southern California Legal News Roundup

In the News: South Florida


by Best Lawyers

A roundup of relevant news of listed lawyers in your area.

South Florida Legal Roundup

In the News: Northern California


by Best Lawyers

A roundup of relevant news of listed lawyers in Northern California.

Northern California Legal In the News

In the News: Meet the Lawyer Representing Christine Blasey Ford


by Best Lawyers

This week, hirings at King & Spalding, and a profile of civil rights attorney Debra Katz.

The Lawyer Representing Christine Blasey Ford

In the News: Homeowners Win Settlement From City Over Flooding


by Best Lawyers

Greenberg and Fisher Phillips make new hires, and Children's Law Center recognizes McDermott Will & Emery.

Mahtomedi Homeowners Win Settlement

In the News Weekly Roundup: Millions in Fund for Native American Farmers


by Best Lawyers

This week in news from our listed attorneys, millions are set aside in a fund for Native American farmers after a winnning class action suit.

Fund Established for Native American Farmers

In the News Weekly Roundup: “Unconstitutional” Medical Review Boards


by Best Lawyers

A roundup of hirings, awards, and industry news relevant to our listed lawyers.

Are Medical Review Boards Unconstitutional?

Trending Articles

The Real Camille: An Interview with Johnny Depp’s Lawyer Camille Vasquez


by Rebecca Blackwell

Camille Vasquez, a young lawyer at Brown Rudnick, sat down with Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer to talk about her distinguished career, recently being named partner and what comes next for her.

Camille Vasquez in office

Announcing The Best Lawyers in The United Kingdom™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from the United Kingdom.

The Best Lawyers in The United Kingdom 2023

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: The Best Lawyers Honorees Behind the Litigation


by Gregory Sirico

Best Lawyers takes a look at the recognized legal talent representing Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in their ongoing defamation trial.

Lawyers for Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Announcing The Best Lawyers in France™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from France.

Blue, white and red strips

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Germany™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Germany.

Black, red and yellow stripes

Education by Trial: Cultivating Legal Expertise in the Courtroom


by Margo Pierce

The intricacies of complex lawsuits require extensive knowledge of the legal precedent. But they also demand a high level of skill in every discipline needed to succeed at trial, such as analyzing technical reports and deposing expert witnesses.

Cultivating Legal Expertise in the Courtroom

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Belgium™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Belgium.

Black, yellow and red stripes

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in France


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms, including our inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recipients.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in France

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect


by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

We Are Women, We Are Fearless


by Deborah S. Chang and Justin Smulison

Athea Trial Lawyers is a female owned and operated law firm specializing in civil litigation, catastrophic energy, wrongful death and product liability.

Athea Trial Law Female Leadership and Success

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Germany


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms, including our inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recipients.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Germany

U.K. Introduces Revisions to Right-to-Work Scheme and Immigration Rules


by Gregory Sirico

Right-to-Work Scheme and Immigration Rules in

Destiny Fulfilled


by Sara Collin

Was Angela Reddock-Wright destined to become a lawyer? It sure seems that way. Yet her path was circuitous. This accomplished employment attorney, turned mediator, arbitrator and ADR specialist nonpareil discusses her career, the role of attorneys in society, the new world of post-pandemic work and why new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson represents the future.

Interview with Lawyer Angela Reddock-Wright

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some


by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom


by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?