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Abner Mikva

Abner J. Mikva
Schwartz Lecturer and Senior Director of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic
1111 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637


Abner J. Mikva is Senior Director and Visiting Professor at the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic of the University of Chicago. He also engages in arbitration and mediation work with JAMS, a national dispute resolution firm.

He served as White House Counsel from October 1, 1994 until November 1, 1995. Prior to his appointment, he served as Chief Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was appointed to the bench on September 27, 1979, and became Chief Judge on January 21, 1991.

Before coming to the bench, Judge Mikva was elected to Congress for five terms, representing portions of Chicago and its suburbs. He served on both the Ways and Means Committee and the Judiciary Committee while in Congress. He started his political career in 1956 in the Illinois House of Representatives, where he served five consecutive terms. While in the legislature, he was Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and helped enact a new criminal code for Illinois, as well as a new mental health code.

Judge Mikva received his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1951, graduating cum laude. He was editor-in-chief of the Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif, the national legal honor society. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was a law clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice Sherman Minton. After his clerkship, he returned to Illinois, where he entered the practice of law, becoming a partner of the late Justice Arthur Goldberg. His practice included extensive litigation and appellate work. He presented several constitutional cases to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Judge taught courses at Northwestern University Law School, Duke University Law, Georgetown Law, the University of Pennsylvania Law, American University Law, the University of Chicago Law and the University of Illinois Law. He is the co-author of a political science text, The American Congress: The First Branch, and co-authored law school textbooks on the legislative process. He is a recipient of numerous honorary degrees. He was given the Paul H. Douglas Ethics in Government Award through the University of Illinois and the Alumni Medal of the University of Chicago. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was a founding member and serves on the Advisory Board of the American Constitution Society which now has student chapters on over 150 law school campuses and lawyer chapters in numerous cities. He and his wife, Zoe, helped to found the Mikva Challenge which inspires Chicago high school students to participate in elections and civic activities, develop leadership skills and delve into complicated issues of public policy that affect their lives.

The Mikvas have three daughters, a judge, a lawyer and a rabbi and seven grandchildren.


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