Meet Judge Kelly

Qualified. Compassionate. Fair

The Honorable David L. Kelly is a lifelong Chicago resident and a dedicated husband and father. He is proud to serve the people of Cook County as a Judge in the Fifth Subcircuit. 


A Thriving Career

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David L. Kelly was sworn in as a Cook County Circuit Court Judge in July of 2021. Judge Kelly was unanimously appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court and has been found qualified by all bar associations.

He has always been committed to serving his community and has practiced law for 20 years. After graduating from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2001, he began his legal career as an Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney, where he held a strong reputation for zealous advocacy on behalf of victims while also being fair and compassionate toward the accused.


After leaving the State’s Attorney Office, David established his own law practice in Bronzeville – a community where for more than 70 years, his family has lived, worked, and attended local schools. Initially, David exclusively practiced criminal law, but soon expanded his practice to include property law, family law, and personal injury. Over David’s years of private practice, he represented hundreds of clients and served as their fearless advocate – through bench and jury trials, plea negotiations, and settlements.


Most recently, David served as a Supervising Administrative Law Judge for the State of Illinois. David also is an Adjunct Professor at the Loyola School of Law where he teaches first year law students Professional Identity Formation, a class focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion and implicit bias in the law. In his classes, he helps students to understand and analyze the professional obligations of lawyers to practice competently and foster the ability to think critically about the legal system and its impact of individuals and communities based on identity.

Where I come from

My entire life has been deeply rooted in Chicago's Southside. I live in the heart of Bronzeville with my wife of 18 years, Stephanie, who is an accomplished lawyer, and our twin 11-year-old boys. I am a third-generation Bronzeville resident.


My great grandparents migrated to Chicago from the South, working within the community as Chicago grew and changed. My family has owned small businesses, worked in the local stock yards, and cared for patients at Provident Hospital.

My mother, who was raised in the Robert Taylor Homes, raised my sister and me in the Englewood community before she made the difficult decision to move due to the crime and drugs in our surrounding area. 


My commitment to my home of Chicago takes the form of community and public service. I am one of the founding attorneys for the legal clinic at my church, the Apostolic Faith Church. I was appointed by my local city council members to serve in leadership roles related to community development. I have established local block clubs, acted as a mentor to several young people, and have even coached Little League Baseball.


I arrive at this moment with deep roots in Chicago and a personal and professional reverence for the law and its ability to shape our communities. I am honored to serve my community as a jurist, with integrity, compassion, and fidelity to the American jurisprudence.


I believe that that law is a powerful tool for good and can help strengthen communities when paired with compassion and fairness. Throughout my life I have sought to deepen my understanding of law in the courtroom, working with clients, and through continuous study of the American jurisprudence. 

As a native Chicagoan, I am proud to serve my community as a judge in Cook County. 

Leading with compassion and fairness