Colleen M. Boraca
Northern IL University
Personal injury
40 Under Class – 2014

Law Professor Colleen Boraca is an attorney making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Boraca, 36, is a clinical assistant professor at Northern Illinois University College of Law and supervises the new Health Advocacy Clinic in Aurora, Illinois. The clinic is a medical-legal partnership and features a team of lawyers, medical professionals and social workers trained to simultaneously address the legal, medical and social needs of the area’s homeless and low-income population.

The clinic is housed in Hesed House in Aurora, the second largest homeless shelter in Illinois.

Prior to that, she was a supervising attorney at the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago and an adjunct clinical professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where she taught Introduction to Health Justice, Interdisciplinary Health Advocacy, and the Health Justice Project.

Boraca, a graduate of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, is highly respected by her peers for the work she is doing to help others.

Professor Emily A. Benfer, with the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, called Boraca a gifted attorney and a natural leader.

Benfer first met Boraca in 2011, when Boraca wanted to become involved with the Health Justice Project, a medical-legal partnership between Erie Family Health Center and Loyola.

“Professor Boraca was eager to connect AIDS Legal Council of Chicago to the project and serve the patients of Erie,” Benfer said. “Upon our first meeting, I was greatly impressed with Colleen’s passion, experience and depth of legal knowledge.”

Benfer called Boraca a trailblazer in interdisciplinary legal education and the medical-legal partnership model.

“She has achieved important results on behalf of elderly individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, people with mental illness in crisis and individuals affected by HIV/AIDS,” Benfer said. “She chose to start a new legal clinic in Aurora due to the rising number of low-income individuals living there who need legal representation. Without a doubt, Professor Boraca and her students will achieve exceptional results for clients, and her students will gain skills they will apply throughout their legal careers.”

Boraca also worked for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

From 2003 to 2009, Boraca was one of four civil prosecutors who handled approximately 4,000 mental health involuntary admission and psychotropic medication cases annually in Cook County. As an adjunct clinical professor at Loyola, she supervised law students in challenging disability cases. She directed the Family Support Project at the AIDS Legal Council which helped families affected by HIV/AIDS access quality health care, achieve financial stability, and make thoughtful future plans for their children .

Benfer said Boraca brought many organizations together to help change laws that seriously affected people living with HIV/AIDS. The work she spearheaded resulted in the repeal of the Illinois HIV Principal Notification law.

“The repeal paved the way for increased HIV testing and treatment among adolescents,” Benfer said. “Professor Boraca approaches her work with a sense of profound empathy, commitment and the highest legal and ethical standards. When combined with her creativity and resourcefulness, these attributes enable her to achieve important and lasting results for our community.”

Boraca has served as the chair and vice-chair of the Chicago Bar Association Mental Health and Disability Law Committee and has been a member of both the Chicago Bar Association Legal Aid Committee and Chicago Bar Foundation Pro Bono Committee. She joined the Kane County Bar Association, volunteers at Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago, and volunteers at Mary Queen of Heaven Parish Sunday School. Boraca is a frequent speaker on health law issues.