Member Monday: Karyn L. Bass Ehler

Description of your practice:
I am a civil rights attorney and my practice is dedicating to advocating for individuals whose rights have been violated.  Specifically, as Head of the Civil Rights Practice Group at Grant & Eisenhofer P.A., I lead a team that litigates matters involving all kinds of civil rights cases, including wrongful convictions, excessive force and other Section 1983 claims, sexual harassment or assault, discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age and disability, as well as other cases involving egregious civil rights violations.

Prior to joining Grant & Eisenhofer, I served as the Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.  In that capacity I worked on a wide range of civil rights cases, including having served as one of the lead counsel in State of Illinois v. City of Chicago (N.D. Ill.), which resulted in a historic consent decree addressing comprehensive and systemic reform of the Chicago Police Department.

Why are you a member of the WBAI?
Empowering and lifting up other women has been central to my life’s work, both as a civil rights attorney and as an advocate on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in law, government, and business.  I have been fortunate to have a number of wonderful mentors and sponsors in my career, both women and men, and believe strongly that it is our responsibility to “lift as we climb” to empower all women and other underrepresented groups to succeed in the law.  I’m proud to be a WBAI member because WBAI’s incredible programming, camaraderie, networking, and collaboration with other bar associations provides a wonderful outlet for us all to lift up others as we also climb in our careers.

What do you think is the best way to empower women in law? 
I don’t think there is one “best” way to empower women in the law.  Instead, I believe there are a number of “best practices” that firms, companies, and government agencies can incorporate to empower women in the law at all phases of their careers.  These best practices include but are not limited to the following: valuing and lifting up mentorship between senior and junior attorneys; having women in leadership positions at the firm; flex or work-from-home policies (which helps both new parents and those caring for or managing the health of aging parents or family members); a resource bank for new parents; a resource bank for attorneys caring for aging parents or family members; building diverse teams on every case; and giving women and other underrepresented minorities meaningful opportunities for trial and other court experience.

What are you most looking forward to in the following year, personally/professionally ?
I am looking forward to continuing my partnership with the TimesUp Legal Defense Fund and the Legal Network for Gender Equity (TimesUp).  I have been working on sexual harassment and gender discrimination cases since I started practicing law, and this past year I have collaborated with TimesUp on cases, policy advocacy, trainings, and for offering resources to survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment.  This year I hope to continue this strong partnership to help grow their impact in Illinois and across the country.

Tell us something interesting about you.
I love taking family adventures with my husband, a Chicago Public School teacher, and our son and daughter.  We love to hike, ride bikes, and take every opportunity to explore new adventures.