For Corinne Heggie (JD ’01), practicing law is more than a passion; it is in her DNA. Heggie’s grandmother was a student in DePaul’s College of Law in the 1940s when it was uncommon for a woman to work outside of the home, much less aspire to a career in a male-dominated field. Although she did not graduate, she did inspire Heggie, a dedicated, hard-working and equally driven lawyer, to pursue her own education and thrive as an attorney.
“She was one of three women in her class,” Heggie says. “She ended up getting married and took on the different challenge of having eight children, but on a very human, personal level, it’s a meaningful connection for me.”
Heggie is now a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in Chicago. Within her commercial litigation practice, she’s worked on cases big and small that involve debt buyers, debt collectors, background investigation companies, lawyers, mortgage servicers and lenders. Regardless of the size or scope, Heggie takes on each case with a powerful devotion to her job and her client.
“It takes a lot of work to be a lawyer,” she says. “It means something. Whomever your clients are, you know they’re trusting you while in very vulnerable situations. It’s truly an honor.”
Heggie credits her own mentors, in part, for the development of this philosophy. She makes a conscious effort to be available as a mentor for new lawyers through her work as a director and member of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois. The organization gives her an opportunity to reach lawyers she might not otherwise meet.
“To me, being a partner means you’ve got to reach back and help others establish great careers so they can help people, too,” Heggie says. “You want to be an example. You want to make sure people get the opportunities and training they need. You want to be more accessible. A good firm partner is generally a good firm citizen.”
“My grandmother once said to me, ‘Corinne, darling, remember to be kind to women.’ I didn’t think much of it at the time. But now, I think, how brilliant and true. Be kind to women, but be kind to everyone. Everyone in this world matters.”