President of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, Karie Valentino (’96) has always gone to great lengths to serve John Marshall and the legal profession. In addition to more than a decade of service with the WBAI, she was a long-time board member of John Marshall’s Alumni Association, serving as President from 2015–2016, and penned a column for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin from 2012–2016. A 2017 John Marshall Spirit Award recipient, Ms. Valentino is Partner with Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP. We greatly appreciated the chance to reconnect.
JMLS: When and how did you know you wanted to be a lawyer? What was your path to law school?
Valentino: I knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was a little girl. I come from a long line of lawyers. My grandfather was a lawyer, my dad was a lawyer, and my uncle and cousins are lawyers. I knew I wanted to be just like my dad, who is also a John Marshall graduate. [Ms. Valentino’s father, Francis Joseph Giganti, graduated from John Marshall in 1976 – Ed.] I am proud to say that I am the first female attorney in my family. I was steadfast on my path to law school, graduating from The University of Iowa in 1993 with a double major in English and psychology and a minor in history. Then I attended The John Marshall Law School, and I graduated in 1996.
JMLS: How did you get into medical malpractice?
Valentino: When I first graduated from law school, I was in-house counsel for an insurance company. After two years, a fellow John Marshall classmate reached out to me to apply for an associate position at his firm in the area of medical malpractice. I was always fascinated with the field of medicine, and I love the challenge of a complicated medical malpractice case. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity I was given to practice and litigate in this area.
JMLS: You are currently the President of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois. What does it mean to lead and be involved in one of the oldest and largest bar associations in Illinois?
Valentino: I am honored to lead and be involved in one of the oldest and largest bar associations of Illinois. My theme this year was “The Ability to Promote, the Opportunity to Advance,” as I wanted to encourage all of our members to support and promote each other and themselves. I am so proud and honored to have had the opportunity to be counted among the fearless female trailblazers of an organization as influential and altruistic as the WBAI. Acting as the WBAI President over the past year has been both challenging and rewarding. I greatly appreciate every leadership opportunity and friendship the WBAI has provided me throughout my legal career.
JMLS: Do you have a favorite memory from law school?
Valentino: I have many favorite memories of law school, including all the wonderful friends I made. One very empowering experience I had was competing on the John Marshall trial team and competing at nationals. My trial team coaches were extremely talented trial attorneys, and the experience solidified my desire to be a trial attorney. I had the honor of being coached by Hon. Anna Demacopolous (’85), John Eannace (’82), Kim Kardas, George Velcich, and Scott Nelson. I was also honored to compete on one of the John Marshall Moot Court teams, and we competed in San Diego, California.
JMLS: Can you tell us one thing that your John Marshall classmates might be surprised to learn about you?
Valentino: One thing that my John Marshall classmates might be surprised to learn about me is that I never missed a class in college or law school.
JMLS: In addition to the WBAI, you have served as President of the John Marshall Law School Alumni Association. Why is it important to you to stay connected to John Marshall and the legal community?
Valentino: It is important to be connected to The John Marshall Law School and the legal community, because of the support they provide. The alumni of John Marshall are tremendously supportive of each other, and it is so rewarding to be among the distinguished alumni from our law school.
JMLS: Will you share with us some of your hobbies or leisure activities?
Valentino: Some of my hobbies and leisure activities include running marathons and an ultra-marathon. I have competed in six Ironman competitions and many triathlons, and I have qualified for and run the Boston Marathon.