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Jennifer Lydia Crespo


Fighting for justice with law

Jennifer Lydia Crespo

Age: 35

Title: General Counsel

Organization: Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission

Jennifer Lydia Crespo is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law. The daughter of immigrants from the Philippines and Puerto Rico, Crespo’s perspective is informed by her unwavering commitment to fierce, fair advocacy. Crespo’s work with the Medill Innocence Project helped exonerate a wrongfully convicted man, and that experience prompted her pursuit of a career in law.

After earning her law degree, Crespo assisted immigration clients with obtaining asylum in the United States. She joined frontline attorneys at O’Hare International Airport in January 2017 to combat the travel ban targeting Islamic religious groups. While working with her immigrant clients, Crespo learned about scams that disproportionately affect immigrant communities and non-English-speaking consumers. This led her to the Office of the Illinois Attorney General where she served as an assistant attorney general in the Consumer Fraud Bureau and practiced complex commercial civil litigation for more than six years.

Crespo is president of HLAI serving the Hispanic lawyers of Illinois. During her tenure with HLAI, Crespo has served as communications outreach committee chair, board director, membership secretary, and president-elect. Crespo helped launch HLAI’s judicial reception, host its first gala, and induct inaugural members to HLAI’s Lincoln-Juarez Honor Society.

Crespo’s mentors in the Hispanic legal community, and her colleagues in bar associations throughout the state of Illinois inspired her return to the front lines of combating injustice within the justice system. Today Crespo is general counsel of the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission where she investigates claims that torture was used to obtain confessions leading to criminal convictions.

Words of wisdom: Lead with compassion, not aggression, with empathy rather than authority, with purpose instead of pride, and with forgiveness in place of fear.