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Approach the Bench: Kimberly M. Halvorsen

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Kimberly-M-Halvorsen.PNGKimberly Halvorsen has worn many hats for someone so young - experienced trial attorney, assistant in Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan's office, pro bono attorney, top student at DePaul Law School, and now mother to seven­month ­old Jackson Martin Halvorsen, Kim's greatest achievement. 

"I love working at Clifford Law Offices. I have great cases and great clients," Kim said as she sat behind her desk adorned with new baby photos. "And I love my family. Who knows? Maybe one more, if I survive." Living close in the city with excellent child care allows Kim to be in the office from morning till night, which makes her time with her husband, Matt, and Jackson even more valuable. 

Kim learned how to juggle her time from her father who is a criminal defense attorney in Cook County. He started as an Assistant State's Attorney and then went into private practice. Often finding himself in federal court, Kim recalls trials that would go for two to three months. "It takes a special kind of person and talented trial lawyer to handle those types of cases," Kim said of her dad. "He's one of the hardest working guys I know, and an outstanding mentor to me." Her mother was an elementary school teacher when Kim and her sister grew up in west suburban Downers Grove. 

Kim's work ethic runs in the family. After graduating from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Kim began working in Springfield for Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan. Kim worked on the House floor with state representatives to develop and implement their legislative agendas and staffed committees considering legislation affecting the state's budget, judiciary and public safety. She went on to attend DePaul University College of Law and graduated magna cum laude in the top five per cent of her class and Order of the Coif. She also was a member of the DePaul Law Review and received the CALI Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy, Civil Procedure and Products Liability Litigation, achieving the highest grade in each of those classes. 

Kim clerked at Clifford Law Offices for two years while at DePaul. It was shortly before then that she met her future husband while both were working at Emmit's Irish Pub in Chicago. He proposed the day after she took the bar exam. Kim describes Matt, now a real estate market manager for Walgreens, as "a wonderful husband and an amazing dad. He keeps me grounded and laughing every day. I can work long hours because of the support system I have at home." 

Immediately upon passing the bar exam, the firm couldn't wait to have Kim begin practicing law. Justice Anne Burke swore her in early in her chambers so Kim could immediately begin work on high profile, complex litigation. The first case she worked on with senior partner Robert Clifford resulted in a $15.6 million verdict for a young girl who was hit by a YMCA van which resulted in permanent physical and cognitive injuries. "It was baptism by fire," Kim said looking back. 

From there, she immediately began working on the property damage claims of the Twin Towers in New York that collapsed on 9/11 following the terrorist attack on America. For years, she pored over highly secure, sensitive documents locked away in secret areas that required special clearance. She was part of the team that took 188 depositions over seven years including the Directors of Security for American Airlines and United Airlines and the FAA Director of Security Intelligence. She researched and wrote countless substantive motions and successfully contested the admissibility of the 9/11 Commission Report, a significant evidentiary ruling in favor of her clients. The complex litigation resulted in a $1.2 billion settlement. 

In the meantime, she has worked on numerous other cases including one that resulted in a $2.91 million verdict on behalf of a woman who died following a routine outpatient procedure at a surgery center. She helped to obtain a $5 million settlement on behalf of a mother of two when medical personnel failed to timely diagnose and treat her cancer. Kim's achievements have resulted in her being named one of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin's 2012 "40 Under 40 Attorneys to Watch" at age 33. 

Somehow, Kim finds time to also give back to the community and her pro bono work on behalf of the needy led to her being named a "Pro Bono Star of the Year" in 2009. Last year, she served as Chair of the Junior Board of Directors for the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) and remains an active volunteer guardian ad litem attorney with CVLS. "Bob Clifford taught me early on the importance of giving back to your legal community. Being an advocate for people who are in need of help but intimidated by the legal system is very rewarding," Kim said. "I enjoy navigating the court system and legal documents for those who need guardians in court." 

Most of all, though, she loves her work at Clifford Law Offices because of the variety of cases and the difference she can make in her clients' lives. "One day I'm working on a medical malpractice case and the next a scaffolding collapse or a CTA accident case," Kim said. "It is such an honor to work at Clifford Law Offices. I'm proud of the work we do to level the playing field for those victims of faulty products, medical negligence, and unsafe conditions. I can see myself working here in 10 years, continuing to help those who need me." 

To view Kim's attorney profile, click here

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