University Park, IL,
13:34 PM

Governors State to Honor Legal Scholar, Trailblazer

Jill Wine-Banks was sole female on team prosecuting Richard Nixon



(UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill.) – Governors State University will honor legal scholar and trailblazer Jill Wine-Banks with an honorary doctorate degree during the 2021 Commencement (virtual) ceremony on May 22, 2021.

A special prosecutor in President Richard Nixon’s historic Watergate trial, Wine-Banks advanced gender equality as the only woman on the team seeking criminal charges against the most powerful man in the world. In her pursuit of justice and representation in a male-dominated legal world, Wine-Banks fought to overcome the sexism and gender discrimination women faced, including being described as “a girl,” “a lady lawyer,” and “the mini-skirted lawyer,” and wrote about it in her 2020 book—winking at the patriarchal system with the title “The Watergate Girl.”

After the Nixon trial, Wine-Banks continued blazing trails. In President Jimmy Carter’s Pentagon, Wine-Banks helped integrate women into the ranks and introduced them to the exclusive military academy of West Point. Back in her home state of Illinois, Wine-Banks stepped into the Deputy Attorney General Chief role as the first woman to do so and then took the reins of the American Bar Association as the first female Chief Operating Officer.

Outside the courtroom, Wine-Banks’ legal brilliance shone as a corporate executive at two Fortune 500 companies. In the public and nonprofit sectors, she created Chicago’s first early college program as a Chief Officer of Chicago Public Schools and continues to work with public and private boards to advocate for their missions.

With a unique perspective on two Republican presidents who faced impeachment charges, Wine-Banks now offers legal analysis, most notably to MSNBC viewers seeking a rare and informed glimpse of the intersection of politics, history, and media.

Governors State President Cheryl Green said the university is honored to recognize Wine-Banks.

“Attorney Jill Wine-Banks’ achievements have elevated the legal profession and opened doors previously closed to women and girls. Her demonstrated commitment to advance the ideals of diversity and inclusion reflects goals and principles embraced by the university,’’ said President Cheryl Green.