Illinois Judges Association

Pro Bono Spotlight - March 2022

This month’s spotlight is on Judge Ellar Duff (ret.).  Ellar Duff started work after college as a teacher and then she went on to law school. She began her legal career working at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Corporation so it is not a surprise to discover that after her more than 24 years serving as a judge in the Third Judicial Circuit, she began to volunteer to do pro bono work  for Land of Lincoln. Since her 2011 retirement, she has been actively involved as a pro bono attorney for Land of Lincoln and also has provided pro bono work for low-income members of the community. 

“My greatest joy in life has been the opportunity to serve others. Joseph R. Bartylak was my first legal employer and taught me the importance and value of serving our neighbors living in an economically challenged status. Receiving the 2021 Joseph R. Bartylak Pro Bono Award has been the highlight of my legal career,” noted Judge Duff.

Judge Duff is also a role model for additional community service. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Alton Memorial Hospital Health Services Foundation, the Alton Memorial Hospital White Cross Auxiliary, the Hawks Alumni Organization, the United Way Auxiliary Board, and Unity Mission. Judge Duff has previously served on the boards of the YWCA of Alton, the Alton Godfrey Human Development Corporation, the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, the Alton Educational Foundation, the Generation of Legacy Madison County Urban League, the Montessori Schools, Parents Anonymous, and the Edwardsville Foundation. 

Judge Ellar Duff (ret.) has received awards in addition to the 2021 Joseph R. Bartylak Pro Bono award from Land of Lincoln. She was recognized with a Distinguished Alumna Award from the Balsa Chapter of the University of Missouri, a YWCA Women of Distinction Award, YWCA of Alton Allies and Mentors Award,  and community service awards from 100 Black Men of Alton, Alton Branch NAACP, Carol Kimmel Foundation, Coalition of Concerned Citizens, Illinois Association of Club Women, and SIUE Martin Luther King.

Judge Duff is a member of the Illinois Judges Association, the National Association of Women Judges, the International Association of Women Judges, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Alton-Wood River Bar Association, the Madison County Bar Association (Past President), the Alton Section National Council of Negro Women, Inc., and the YWCA Southwestern Racial Justice Committee. 

She is also the mother of two sons, Kehven Williams, who is an educator, and Sean Williams, who is an attorney. The IJA Pro Bono Spotlight is proud to focus on the tireless efforts of Judge Ellar Duff (ret.) for her dedication and commitment to helping others.