Former US Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald to Become Feirson Distinguished Lecturer

Law School Office of Communications
March 5, 2013

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the legendary prosecutor who spearheaded the investigations leading to the convictions of two Illinois governors, will become the inaugural Steven Feirson Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, Dean Michael H. Schill announced today. 

“Pat Fitzgerald is one of the most respected and skilled attorneys of his generation,” said Schill, the Dean of the Law School and Harry N. Wyatt Professor of Law. “No one has done more to bring honor to the legal profession—especially in Chicago—than Pat. His unimpeachable ethics, his extraordinary brilliance, and his astounding work ethic make him one of the finest public servants this country has ever known. I have been so thrilled to get to know him during these past few years, and I know our students will benefit immeasurably from his presence at the Law School. I am incredibly excited to welcome him as a major part of our community, and I cannot wait to see the amazing things that come from his regular interaction with our students and faculty.” 

Fitzgerald is the first holder of the Feirson Lectureship, which he will hold on an ongoing basis. In Spring 2013, he will co-teach a course on national security law, and he will teach at least one class every year going forward. Fitzgerald has already been strongly involved in the life of the Law School, having served as the keynote speaker for the 2012 symposium of the University of Chicago Legal Forum on “Combatting Corruption” and as an honored speaker at other student events. Schill said that he hopes and expects that his involvement in the curricular and co-curricular activities of the Law School will only grow stronger as a result of his assuming the Feirson Lectureship. 

"I am thrilled to become part of the University of Chicago community. I very much look forward to teaching this spring and interacting with extraordinary students and faculty members," said Fitzgerald. "I am particularly delighted to do so as part of a lectureship named for Steven Feirson, for whom I have great regard." 

Patrick Fitzgerald, who the New York Times compared to Eliot Ness and called a “folk hero” in “prosecutorial spurs,” served as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois for over a decade. He presided over the investigations leading to the convictions of Governor George Ryan for racketeering and fraud and Governor Rod Blagojevich for public corruption. As a result of the latter case, Blagojevich became the first impeached Illinois governor. 

Previously, he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief of the Organized Crime-Terrorism Unit in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. In addition to many other terrorism cases, he participated in the prosecution of United States v. Usama Bin Laden, et al., in which the defendants received four guilty verdicts and four life sentences on various offenses, including conspiracy to murder United States nationals overseas and the August 1998 bombings of the United States embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 

In October, 2012, Fitzgerald became a partner in the Chicago office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. He will be teaching a seminar on national security law this spring with Michael Scudder, a colleague at Skadden who formerly served as a Supreme Court clerk, as a federal prosecutor, and in the White House counsel's office.

The Feirson Lectureship was established in 2013 by a generous endowment gift from Steven B. Feirson, ’75. Feirson, a devoted law school alumnus and past chair of the Law School’s Annual Fund, established this fund in order to attract distinguished practicing lawyers to teach courses and become involved in the life of the Law School. Feirson is a partner at Dechert LLP and serves as a Deputy Chair of the firm and a member of its Policy Committee. He focuses his practice on litigation of complex cases in the securities, financial services, and corporate governance arenas.

“The Law School continues to occupy a very special place in the field of legal education,” said Feirson. “Its rigorous focus at the cutting edge of scholarship has always been a hallmark of the institution and has made the Law School the envy of the profession. I hope that my gift can in some small measure help to continue that tradition.”

“It is a true honor to have this Distinguished Lectureship named for Steve,” said Schill. “He is an extraordinary attorney and a wonderful person, and having his name on this lectureship gives gravitas to the role. Pat Fitzgerald is a perfect person to inhabit this position for the first time.” 

In addition to the students, the Law School faculty will also benefit from Fitzgerald’s presence. “Pat Fitzgerald’s accomplishments are an inspiration to every officer of the court,” said Lior Strahilevitz, Sidley Austin Professor of Law. “I cannot imagine a better role model for our students. I am honored and delighted to have him as a colleague.”