Office of Diversity Affairs
The Honorable Jesse Reyes
Black robes can be intimidating. In most courtrooms, the judge sits on an elevated platform, surrounded by symbols of power and authority. Perhaps that's why the Honorable Jesse Reyes (JD '82) of the Circuit Court of Cook County goes out of hisway to put students at ease when they select him as an alumni mentor.
"There is an aura about being a judge," Reyes says. "That's why I usually invite students to lunch, speak about my personal experiences, and let them know they can ask anything they want."
There are distinct advantages to having a mentor on the bench. Those who hope someday to become judges themselves benefit from Reyes' ability to introduce them to other judges and public officials.
"Many students have chosen you specifically because you are a judge," says Reyes, who is a past president of The John Marshall Law School Alumni Association. "I tell them to start early and get all the knowledge and experience they can, especially by practicing in all kinds of courts, both state and federal."
Additionally, Reyes invites students to visit his courtroom and observe the proceedings. Because he sits in a variety of venues and divisions of the Circuit Court of Cook County, students are exposed to a variety of cases and environments. Reyes has been an assistant state's attorney in Cook County, served in the City of Chicago Corporation Counsel's Office, and for many years was senior supervising attorney for the Chicago Board of Education. He was the first Hispanic to lead the Illinois Judges Association serving as president for 2006-2007. Reyes has been a mentor since John Marshall's Career Services Office began the program in 1998 and says that he is "pleased to have helped keep it going. It's valuable to students," he says. "Students have a specific resource devoted exclusively to them."