The graduating class will hear from valedictorian Patrick Wood and Judge Paul P. Biebel, Jr., presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County who will deliver the commencement address. The law school will present Biebel with an honorary degree.
A Chicago native, Biebel has been the presiding judge of the Criminal Division, Circuit Court of Cook County, since 2001. He oversees the operation of the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building, the largest and busiest criminal courthouse in America.
Biebel first joined the bench in 1996. Previously he was an assistant state’s attorney in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office from 1969 to 1981, the first assistant attorney general in the Illinois Attorney General’s office from 1981 to 1985, and public defender of Cook County from 1986 to 1988. He was in private practice as a partner at Winston & Strawn, 1985 to 1986 and 1988 and 1994, and at Altheimer & Gray from 1994 and 1996.
Biebel’s first judicial experience came as a judge appointed to the Circuit Court of Cook County, and he was elected to that position in 1998. He has also served at the Juvenile Court, Child Protection Division, and as a chancellor in the Chancery Division.
The recipient of a Chick Evans Scholarship to attend Marquette University, Biebel received his BA in 1964. He earned his JD from Georgetown University Law Center, where he received a Bellarmine Scholarship, in 1967.
Throughout his career, Biebel has received numerous awards and honors, including being named Catholic Lawyer of the Year as well as Celtic Lawyer of the Year, and receiving the Illinois American Legion Award of Excellence, the Commitment to Justice Award by the Chicago Council of Lawyers, the John Howard Association Award for the Development of Innovative Mental Health and Drug Courts, and the Outstanding Judicial Leadership Award from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless for the creation of the WINGS project in the Circuit Court of Cook County.