Patricia Brown Holmes

Patricia Brown Holmes

Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP

Recognized since 2011

Chicago, Illinois

Practice Areas

Commercial Litigation

Criminal Defense: White-Collar

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RSHC Managing Partner Patricia Brown Holmes practiced law on both sides of the bench in courtrooms at every level, serving as Associate Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, assistant U.S. attorney NDIL, assistant state's attorney for Cook County, and Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel for the city of Chicago. Patricia is the first African-American woman to manage and have her name on the door of a major law firm that is not women- or minority-owned.

Patricia is one of a handful of Illinois lawyers who have handled cases in state, city, and federal court as well as state appellate, federal appellate, and Illinois Supreme Court. She has represented a wide range of public and private corporate clients in complex commercial, regulatory, and class action litigation as well as internal investigations and crisis management.

She serves on the University of Illinois System Board of Trustees and The Chicago Network. She chairs the board of Just the Beginning – A Pipeline Organization. She is a former President of the Chicago Bar Association, Black Women Lawyers’ Association, and Harriet’s Daughters. She is a former board member of La Rabida Children’s Hospital. She served in a variety of high profile appointed positions such as the Special Prosecutor in the matter of Laquan McDonald, Sole Trustee of Burr Oak Cemetery, and co-chair of the Judicial Selection Commission for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, among others.

Throughout her career, Patricia has received countless accolades for her impressive professional achievements as well as her dedication to diversity, inclusion, and equity in the legal profession. She most recently received the 2022 MCCA Rainmaker Award for the Midwest Region, selected a 2022 Women of Influence honoree by Chicago Business Journal, received the 2022 Top 10 Illinois Super Lawyers distinction, selected a Managing Partner of the Year honoree by Corporate Counsel Women, Influence & Power in Law Awards 2021, and appointed to the National Football League Diversity Advisory Committee.

Contact & Links
  • 70 West Madison Street, Suite 2900
    Chicago, IL 60602
  • University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, J.D., graduated 1986
  • University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, B.S., graduated 1983
Bar Admissions
  • Illinois, Illinois State Bar
  • The Chicago Network - Board of Directors
  • 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 (1997-1998), Founding Member (1987); Visionary Award (2005); Vanguard Award (2017)
  • Burr Oak Cemetery Oversight Task Force - Chair
  • Chicago Bar Assocation - President (2015-2016); Board of Managers (2011-2017); Dickerson Award Recipient (2013); Blue Ribbon Committee on Juvenile Justice, Chair
  • Chicago Lawyer Magazine/Chicago Daily Law Bulletin - Women's Advisory Board (2018)
  • De Novo Business - Editorial Advisory Board (2021-2022)
  • Illinois Judges Association - Former Co-Chair, Retired Judges Committee
  • Illinois Judicial Council Foundation - Former Chair; Distinguished Service Award (2005)
  • Illinois State Bar Association - Member
  • Just The Beginning-A Pipeline Organization - Chair of the Board of Directors
  • Law360 - Diversity & Inclusion Editorial Advisory Board (2022); Hospitality Editorial Board (2021)
  • Leadership Council on Legal Diversity - Member
  • Leadership Greater Chicago - Fellow, Class of '93; Distinguished Fellow Award (2012)
  • Seventh Circuit Bar Association - American Jury Project Commission
  • The Chicago American Inn of Court - Member
  • The Chicago Network - Board of Directors
  • The Cook County Bar Association - Centennial Presidental Award for Dedication to the Bar (2014); Judicial Award (1998)
  • Women's White Collar Defense Association - Member
Court Admissions
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of 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)

Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for work in:
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • Best Lawyers (Commercial Litigation, 2011-2023; Criminal Defense: White Collar, 2020-2023)
  • Beyond in Big Law Award, Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago, Inc. (2022)
  • Women of Influence, Chicago Business Journal (2022)
  • Chicago’s Notable Black Leaders and Executives, Crain’s Chicago Business (2021-2022)
  • Chicago’s Notable Women in Law, Crain’s Chicago Business (2018,2022)
  • Chicago's Notable Minorities in Law, Crain's Chicago Business (2019)
  • Managing Partner of the Year—Law Firm, Corporate Counsel Women, Influence and Power in Law Awards (2021)
  • MCCA Rainmakers Award, Minority Corporate Counsel Association (2022)
  • Top 10 Illinois Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters (2022)
  • 2016 Chicago Lawyer Person of the Year
Additional Areas of Practice:
  • Appellate Practice
  • Corporate Compliance Law
  • Corporate Governance Law
  • Litigation - Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy)
  • Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants

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Recruiting, Raising and Retaining the Next Generation

by LaVon M. Johns and Patricia Brown Holmes

With savvy recruiting, great culture and a focus on work/life integration, learn how any law firm can still get the most out of its greenest personnel.

Animated figures putting massive puzzle together

Top of the Mountain

by LaVon M. Johns and Patricia Brown Holmes

Making partner, ginning up huge business, earning peer respect and industry influence are laudable goals—but it’s important to pursue them methodically and mindfully. One dynamic duo who have reached the mountaintop show how it’s done.

Red flag sitting on the top of a mountain summit

New Sheriff in Town on ESG

by Patricia Brown Holmes

Various regulatory agencies within the Biden Administration are stepping up enforcement of corporate malfeasance in the ever-trendy ESG space.


An Allied Front Against Ransomware

by Patricia Brown Holmes, Abigail L. Peluso, Georgia N. Alexakis and John K. Theis

With the world ever more digitally entwined—particularly as the pandemic has increasingly driven commerce and ordinary business activity more fully online—the threat of ransomware is here to stay. Here’s a primer on the federal government’s response and how the private sector can help.


Tested and Triumphant

by Patricia Brown Holmes

Native Chicagoan Patricia Brown Holmes has built an astonishingly varied career through sheer determination and an undimmed survival instinct. Throughout, she’s been determined to help others like her do the same.

Chicago skyline

All Aboard

by Patricia Brown Holmes

What effect is California’s new law mandating more women in corporate boardrooms likely to have?

California's Mandatory Gender Diversity

Benefits and Mechanics of Diverse Partner Integration

by Patricia Brown Holmes and Leslie Davis

Cover Story: Diverse Partner Integration

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