During her legal career, Kalia Coleman has litigated more than 100 bench trials and several jury trials. This caseload, though, has not prevented Coleman from donating countless hours to her profession -- most notably with the Black Women Lawyers' Association of Greater Chicago, Inc. (the “BWLA”) -- and serving as a role model to African American women seeking a career in law.
It's why her peers so often refer to Coleman as a leader in her profession.
"Kalia is in a league of her own, truly a remarkable attorney," said Amber Bennett, an attorney with Chicago's Mayer Brown. "She is compassionate, dedicated and extremely hard-working. She goes above and beyond."
This has been evident since Coleman started her legal career at the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. There, not only did Coleman litigate hundreds of bench trials, but she also argued three jury trials.
This success led to Coleman's next move, with the U.S. Attorney's Office. While an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Coleman litigated four jury trials, argued three appeals, and was promoted to Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Division.
Coleman has investigated and tried cases related to various areas of the law, including narcotics, money laundering, racketeering, bank robbery, white collar fraud, aggravated identity theft, and weapons cases.
Katie Durick, associate general counsel with Facebook, said that Coleman has that rare ability to handle any legal challenge that comes her way.
“I've seen her sometimes in the same day move from hard questioning of a cooperator, dealing with a federal judge and defense attorney on a tricky issue involving ethics, to forcefully advocating for a result during an adversarial court hearing,” Durick said. “You cannot come in with one speed or one skill set to those very different situations. The common thread was that in each of those situations she acted with integrity, skill and grace.”
After enhancing her already strong reputation while at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Coleman moved to the private sector, joining the firm of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP as a partner. Coleman serves on its Recruiting and Associate Development Committee, where she works to make sure the firm attracts and retains diverse attorneys.
When she served as president of the BWLA, Coleman developed programming designed to increase the number of black women in the legal field. She spearheaded the “Together We Can” event, which brought together the BWLA, the Business Leadership Council, the Cook County Bar Association and the Black Men Lawyers’ Association to discuss ways that these groups could bring about social and economic change in their communities.
“Kalia is a force for the BWLA,” said a Judge, “Kalia was finishing her board term when the pandemic hit. Her ability to keep the board focused on serving our members who were hit hard by the pandemic was critical. At a time when we all desperately needed to be affirmed and encouraged, Kalia came through.”