Champion of Justice for Veterans and Active Duty Military
Patricia McGill joined the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation in 2015 as chair of the Illinois Access to Civil Justice Council, the oversight body for the IL Armed Forces Legal Aid Network. She is currently employed by United Airlines as a Government Affairs Attorney, where she advises on corporate political activity ethics and compliance. Prior to that, Ms. McGill served as the General Counsel and Ethics Officer for the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. She joined the State of Illinois after serving as a Senior Policy Advisor to the US Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. Additionally, she was a Senior Policy Advisor to the Chief Defense Counsel for the Office of Military Commissions working on Guantanamo Bay detainee litigation. Before attending law school at DePaul University College of Law, Ms. McGill served six years in the Army as a Counterintelligence Special Agent and Russian linguist.
What motivated you to serve as chair of the IL Access to Civil Justice Council with the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation?
In my previous role as the General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, I was fortunate enough to work on the legislation that created the Council. Serving as chair of the Council allows me to help with implementing the solution to the problems that prompted the legislation. It’s been exciting to be able to serve in this capacity and help to shape what the civil legal support for veterans and military personnel will look like in Illinois.
What do you believe is one of the biggest areas of need faced by veterans in America?
There is a true need for assistance and awareness in translating military skills into the civilian workplace. The military instills valuable leadership and responsibility that often isn’t taken advantage of by employers.
What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about civil legal aid?
Civil legal aid is important because the court system is complex, intimidating, and difficult to navigate without an attorney. Civil legal aid provides resources that are fundamental to an equal justice system. Education and outreach about the value of civil legal aid should be a focus for the legal community.
When you talk to legislators and other stakeholders about the importance of state funding for legal aid, and specifically veterans’ issues, what is your 15-second elevator pitch?
It’s important to adequately fund civil legal aid because it is often the only assistance for people to maintain or regain stability when they are faced with issues that impact basic necessities like employment, housing, and government benefits. An investment in civil legal aid is an investment in families and communities.
What do you do when you aren’t working or volunteering for the IL Access to Civil Justice Council?
I love combining my two passions, family and travel. I love being able to expose my daughter to new places. This summer we visited Ireland for a family reunion.