Patricia Brown Holmes

Patricia Brown Holmes

Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP

Recognized since 2011

Chicago, Illinois

Practice Areas

Commercial Litigation

Commercial Litigation

Criminal Defense: White-Collar

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As a former state court judge, experienced prosecutor, and defense lawyer, RSHC Managing Partner Patricia Brown Holmes is renowned for her comprehensive trial experience and wisdom as a trusted advisor for clients. She focuses on high-stakes commercial disputes and litigation; class actions; risk, reputation, and crisis management; and internal investigations and white collar criminal defense. She is one of a handful of Illinois lawyers who have handled cases in state, city, and federal court as well as state appellate, federal appellate, and Illinois Supreme Court.

Patricia is the first African-American woman to manage and have her name on the door of a major law firm that is not women- or minority-owned. She has received countless accolades for her professional achievements and dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal industry. In recognizing RSHC, Chambers D&I Awards called the firm “a true diversity and inclusion pioneer for the profession.”

She serves on the University of Illinois System Board of Trustees and Board of The Chicago Network. She chairs the board of Just the Beginning – A Pipeline Organization. She is a former board member of LaRabida Children’s Hospital. She is a former President of the Chicago Bar Association, Black Women Lawyers’ Association, and Harriet’s Daughters. She served in a variety of high profile appointed positions such as the Special Prosecutor in the matter of Laquan McDonald, Sole Trustee of Burr Oak Cemetery, and co-chair of the Judicial Selection Commission for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, among others.


  • 70 West Madison Street, Suite 2900
    Chicago, IL 60602


  • University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign , J.D., graduated 1986
  • University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, B.S., graduated 1983

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois, Illinois State Bar


  • American Bar Association - Section of Litigation; Section of Business Law, White Collar Crime Committee; Section of State and Local Government Law
  • Black Women Lawyers' Association of Greater Chicago, Inc. - Past President (1997-1998), Founding Member (1987); Visionary Award (2005); Vanguard Award (2017)
  • Burr Oak Cemetery Oversight Task Force - Chair
  • Chicago Bar Assocation - President (2015-2016); Board of Managers (2011-2017); Dickerson Award Recipient (2013); Blue Ribbon Committee on Juvenile Justice, Chair
  • Chicago Lawyer Magazine/Chicago Daily Law Bulletin - Women's Advisory Board (2018)
  • De Novo Business - Editorial Advisory Board (2021)
  • Illinois Judges Association - Former Co-Chair, Retired Judges Committee
  • Illinois Judicial Council Foundation - Former Chair; Distinguished Service Award (2005)
  • Illinois State Bar Association - Member
  • Just The Beginning-A Pipeline Organization - Chair of the Board of Directors
  • Law360 - Hospitality Editorial Board (2021)
  • Leadership Council on Legal Diversity - Member
  • Leadership Greater Chicago - Fellow, Class of '93; Distinguished Fellow Award (2012)
  • Seventh Circuit Bar Association - American Jury Project Commission
  • The Chicago American Inn of Court - Member
  • The Chicago Network - Board of Directors
  • The Cook County Bar Association - Centennial Presidental Award for Dedication to the Bar (2014); Judicial Award (1998)
  • Women's White Collar Defense Association - Member

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)

Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2023 for work in:

  • Commercial Litigation
  • Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • Commercial Litigation


  • 2019 Chicago's Notable Minorities in Law, Crain's Chicago Business
  • 2016 Chicago Lawyer Person of the Year
  • 2017 Black Women Lawyers' Association of Greater Chicago (BWLA) Vanguard Award
  • 2017 Crain's Chicago Business Most Influential Minority Lawyers in Chicago
  • 2018 Cook County Bar Association Ida B. Platt Award
  • 2018 Rainbow PUSH Coalition & Citizenship Education Fund Outstanding Women in Business Award
  • 2018 Savoy Magazine Most Influential Black Lawyers
  • 2019 Chicago's Notable Minorities in Law, Crain's Chicago Business
  • Best Lawyers (Commercial Litigation, 2011-2022; Criminal Defense: White Collar, 2020-2022)

New Sheriff in Town on ESG

by Patricia Brown Holmes

Various regulatory agencies within the Biden Administration are stepping up enforcement of corporate malfeasance in the ever-trendy ESG space.


An Allied Front Against Ransomware

by Patricia Brown Holmes, Abigail L. Peluso, Georgia N. Alexakis and John K. Theis

With the world ever more digitally entwined—particularly as the pandemic has increasingly driven commerce and ordinary business activity more fully online—the threat of ransomware is here to stay. Here’s a primer on the federal government’s response and how the private sector can help.


Tested and Triumphant

by Patricia Brown Holmes

Native Chicagoan Patricia Brown Holmes has built an astonishingly varied career through sheer determination and an undimmed survival instinct. Throughout, she’s been determined to help others like her do the same.

Chicago skyline

All Aboard

by Patricia Brown Holmes

What effect is California’s new law mandating more women in corporate boardrooms likely to have?

California's Mandatory Gender Diversity

Benefits and Mechanics of Diverse Partner Integration

by Patricia Brown Holmes and Leslie Davis

Cover Story: Diverse Partner Integration

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