Building Cases with Kellie Walters of The Walters Law Firm

Name: Elise

Year: Junior

Majors: Legal Studies, Global Health Studies

Minor: Gender and Sexuality Studies

CFS Program: Legal Field Studies

Employer: The Walters Law Firm

Fiery, smart, cool, and compassionate is how I would describe Kellie Walters of The Walters Law Firm. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to work as her intern for my CFS experience. I remember interviewing at other law firms and she convinced me because of our shared interests in social justice issues and work with survivors. She is a criminal defense attorney who works on a variety of cases, though her favorite is 1983 civil rights cases, many of which involve police brutality. I have learned that criminal defense is about ensuring people’s rights are not being infringed in society. Some of our cases involve bringing charges against institutions who need to be held accountable for their unjust actions against our clients.

I mainly do legal research to build the cases we are currently working on. One of the best feelings I have had this quarter was finding a specifically related case after researching for several hours. It makes me really happy to know that my contributions to each case are directly helping our cases. For my final research project, I will be looking at how legal perceptions regarding police accountability has changed in Illinois since the year 2000.

In a week, I go to court typically once or twice, either to federal court in the Loop or the criminal courthouse on 26th and California. Typically not too much goes on when I accompany Kellie– most often a motion is granted or dismissed or argued for. However, one week my Chicago Field Studies professor, Professor Llorente, let us know that a human trafficking case started in federal court, USA v. Biancofiori. Since I am involved in an anti-human trafficking club on campus and have never seen a jury trial on a trafficking case, I attended the second day in which three expert witnesses, an IRS Agent, FBI forensic examiner, and FBI special agent, were called to testify facts in the case. As an avid Criminal Minds and SVU watcher, seeing people who actually have trained at the FBI (in Quantico) was very exciting.The U.S. assistant attorney (federal prosecutor) on the case was very detailed in her questioning, and I could definitely see myself working as an attorney the government in the future.