Cecilia Horan, who was appointed in January to be an at-large Cook County Circuit Court judge, said she had been trying to "put the pieces in place" for a long time before she found out that she'd been appointed to her new post.
Horan, who is lesbian, was appointed by Justice Mary Jane Theis and the Illinois Supreme Court to fill the position held by Judge Russell W. Hartigan, who retired.
"I felt lucky and blessed that Justice Theis and the Illinois Supreme Court decided that I was worthy of the position," Horan said, also praising her new colleagues for the welcome she's received in her early days on the job.
"They've been totally gracious on giving advice, on everything from being a new judge to running for election, which I'll have to do in 2018. I couldn't be happier and feel more fortunate."
She grew up on Chicago's North Side and was with the firm Hinshaw & Culbertson LLC for 20 years, specializing mainly in transportation-related personal injury litigation as well as product liability and insurance coverage matters. Horan also had been co-chair of the firm's Chicago Office Mentoring Committee.
She is currently also going into her second year as president of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago ( LAGBAC ).
"It's a really fantastic organization, whose members are law students and legal professionals," she said. "We're a non-partisan organization and we do a number of things, [such as] provide social and networking opportunities and a mentoring program that's fantastic. We recently had a networking series called 'Meet the Bench' where we took law students to meet judges at the three state-court levels."
According to Horan, "It's critically important that [the judiciary] be representative of the community that we serve. It's important for diverse people of all stripes to be on the bench, because, as I see in courtrooms every day, there are diverse litigants. We want the judiciary to be accessible. We want the people to feel like they are part of the process. It's important for them to see that there are Black judges, Asian judges and LGBT judges."