2016 Law Alumni Awards

Recognizing outstanding service to DePaul and the greater legal community

DePaul Law Alumni Awards
From left: Carla Espinoza, Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea, Judge Ann Jorgensen and George Pearce. To see more photos from the 2016 Law Alumni Awards, click here.
DePaul University College of Law honored three outstanding alumni—Ann Jorgensen (JD ’80), George Pearce (JD ’79) and Carla Espinoza (JD ’12)—and their contributions to DePaul and the legal community at the Law Alumni Awards luncheon held at the Union League Club of Chicago in April.

Distinguished Alumna

Hon. Ann B. Jorgensen, Class of 1980

Judge Jorgensen serves the State of Illinois Appellate Court, 2nd District. She served as an assistant state’s attorney in the Office of the DuPage County State’s Attorney until entering private practice, where she concentrated in criminal defense and administrative hearings. Jorgensen was appointed an associate judge for the 18th Judicial Circuit in 1989, elected circuit judge in 1994, and subsequently retained in 2000 and 2006. There, she served as chief judge until her appointment to the appellate court in 2008. In 2010, she was elected to a full term on the appellate court and elected presiding judge. She served in that position from 2010 to 2012, and remains a champion of the electronic business pilot programs that commenced during her term.

Judge Jorgensen has been recognized for her leadership, vision and professionalism by a variety of organizations. The Illinois State Bar Association honored Jorgensen with its Board of Governors Award for service and contribution to the organization in 2013. In 2015, Northern Illinois University College of Law honored her with its Public Service Award for extraordinary support and service to the College of Law. She also received the prestigious John Powers Crowley Award from the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program. The Illinois Judges Association recognized her with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. She received the DuPage Association of Women Lawyers Glass Ceiling Buster Award for leadership and vision in 2003.

During her acceptance speech, Jorgensen said she is a product of DePaul College of Law’s history, stature and ideals.

“It isn’t just a great formal legal education that sets DePaul graduates apart,” Jorgensen said. “It is much more. The cornerstone [for our class] was the constant mantra that ‘it is a privilege to be a lawyer,’ and with that privilege comes the responsibility to honor the rule of law and the obligation to respect your colleagues, your clients and your oath. … Above all, with the privilege of being a lawyer, comes the duty to undertake a commitment not just to preserve our profession but also to make it better. That vision has guided me throughout the past 30 some years and I remain grateful for that professional moral compass.

“With that perspective, let me say that to be part of DePaul today is to respect and enhance this extraordinary heritage of commitment to the legal profession and its future.”

Outstanding Service to the DePaul Community

George Pearce, Class of 1979

Pearce is a partner with Holland & Knight. As a business attorney, he specializes in addressing the varied needs of individuals and family-owned businesses, including wealth management, succession planning, transactional guidance and day-to-day corporate counseling. He represents individuals and businesses in manufacturing, distribution, professional design and retail industries. He also is chair of the mentoring committee for the Holland & Knight Chicago office and is active with the firm’s pro bono committee. 

Pearce has been an active member of the College of Law Dean’s Advisory Council and the Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Program. He also assists law students with interviewing techniques and career guidance. Pearce and his wife Mary (JD ’79) are active participants in College of Law reunion events and have co-chaired their class reunions.

On mentoring, Pearce said he finds that young attorneys are “energizing, fun and professional. Offering a few professional tips can go a long way.”

Outstanding Young Alumna

Carla I. Espinoza, Class of  2012

Espinoza is managing attorney for Chicago Immigration Advocates Law Offices, where she focuses primarily on complex immigration litigation and criminal defense at the federal level.

In 2009, Espinosa enrolled in DePaul University College of Law with a goal of becoming a human rights advocate. As a law student, she devoted her volunteer work to the Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic and to other grassroots organizations focused on migrant rights. Espinoza was a Sullivan Fellow at the International Human Rights Law Institute, where she worked on indigenous human rights cases in conjunction with Mexican nonprofit organizations and argued those cases before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

After graduating in 2012, Espinoza was hired as a supervising attorney for a national immigration practice focused on removal defense litigation and family-based immigration. In 2013, she was hired as the managing attorney for Chicago Immigration Advocates Law Offices. Recently, Espinoza has been successfully litigating cases dealing with Interpol investigations, aggravated felony charges and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, as well as providing pro bono services to people seeking refuge in the United States.

On receiving the Young Alumna Award, Espinoza said the true award is seeing the impact she can make in clients’ lives. “Awards like this make me want to work even harder. I am proud to be a DePaul alumna.”​