Dennericka Brooks
Legal Aid Chicago
Housing law, poverty law
40 Under Class – 2019

Dennericka Brooks has spent her legal career advocating for some of the most vulnerable individuals in the country: the poor who have lost or are on the brink of losing their homes and children who need legal assistance.

Brooks is a supervisory attorney for Legal Aid Chicago, one of the largest civil legal aid organizations in the state of Illinois. In this role, she has co-chaired complex cases in state, federal and appellate court and has chaired a number of jury and bench trials.

Brooks’ career has been a busy one. She has written and argued more than 50 dispositive motions, represented clients in more than 20 administrative hearings and negotiated more than 150 settlement agreements in housing, family, employment and consumer law. And she has handled these cases at every level of litigation, from discovery and expert witness preparation to depositions and trial.

Despite this busy caseload, Brooks has also earned praise from her peers for her commitment to the legal profession and the hours she spends volunteering to make it stronger.

Josie Gough, assistant dean for inclusion, diversity and equity with Loyola University Chicago School of Law, has known Brooks for 14 years, working with her for the last nine on several projects at Loyola. This includes Brooks’ participation as a trial team coach, adjunct faculty member, mentor to students. Brooks this past year has been a faculty participant in for the school’s Inaugural Professionalism Identity Course.

“I have witnessed Ms. Brooks supporting our students not only through the variety of programs and initiatives that she leads, but on a personal level,” Gough said. “She is there for our students when they hit a bump in the road. She makes the time for our students without hesitation. She spends countless hours preparing our students to deal with the pressures of the practice as they transition from law students to licensed attorneys.”

As a volunteer coach for the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial team at Loyola, Brooks taught trial advocacy to second- and third-year law students. Each year, the students ranked in the top three teams at the Black Law Student Association’s regional competition and advanced to the national competition.

“She does her best work with our students by being a role model that they can look up to and trust,” Gough said.

Brooks was awarded the St. Bellarmine Award from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2013. This award is given to honor alumni who have been in practice for 15 years or less and who have contributed their time and passion to the law school.

“Dennericka has dedicated her career to public interest and advocating on behalf of clients and communities that have suffered the disadvantage and unfairness of racial and economic injustice,” said Zelda Harris, clinical professor of law at Loyola. “With her exceptional trial skills, Dennericka could have left the public-interest sector years ago to pursue a position in the private sector. It takes a person of great integrity and purpose to serve the needs of the community over opportunity for personal enrichment.”