Illinois Judge Association

Pro Bono Spotlight - Judge Michael Brandt (ret)

Our first spotlight is of retired judge, Michael Brandt, who is a role model and shining example for all those in the legal profession. Judge Brandt was a Circuit Judge in the Tenth Judicial Circuit for over 20 years, including holding the position of Chief Judge from 2011 to 2013. After retiring from the bench, he continued his law practice and is also an avid pro bono volunteer.

When asked about the importance of the legal community participating in pro bono work, Judge Brandt said, “Pro bono is a part of a duty in my mind to help others who can’t afford to have an attorney. It also assists the legal system greatly in handling these cases. I think it’s something that is and should be ingrained in all lawyers.” Judge Brandt has embodied this sentiment himself throughout the entirety of his 44-year legal career – from supporting and encouraging pro bono as a judge to doing pro bono as a retired judge.

He has provided countless hours of service through Prairie State Legal Services and through the Public Interest Law Initiative’s Tenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee. Through PILI, Judge Brandt has volunteered with the organization’s Tenth Judicial Circuit Conflict of Interest Pro Bono Referral Panel, and their Self-Represented Litigant Help Desks in Peoria and Tazewell County Courthouses. As a result of his pro bono service, Judge Brandt was the recipient of the 2018 Illinois State Bar Association’s John C. McAndrews Award. He was also named to PILI’s Pro Bono Volunteer Honor Roll in 2020.

Judge Lisa Wilson, who chairs the Tenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee spoke to Judge Brandt’s dedication and service. “It was no surprise that when he retired from the bench he immediately started doing pro bono work by accepting directly referred cases through Prairie State Legal Services, working in the Self-Represented Litigant Help Desks in Peoria and Tazewell Counties, and assisting individuals who have requested that their criminal records be expunged or sealed.” We appreciate all the work Judge Brandt has done for our community to better the lives of others.