Jill Thompson Calian graduated magna cum laude from Miami University in 1986. Following her graduation from University of Chicago Law School in 1989, Jill clerked for Justice Charles Levin, of the Michigan Supreme Court. After the clerkship, Jill returned to Chicago to work for Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal. While practicing commercial litigation at Sonnenschein, Jill also found time to take on a number of pro bono cases, including immigration, whistle-blower and special education cases.
Working together with the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and her cohorts at Sonnenschein, Jill filed a class action on behalf of 26,000 Illinois infants and toddlers, who although eligible for early intervention services (such as speech, physical and occupational therapies, vision, social work, nutrition and psychological services) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, were not receiving those services. Jill and her colleagues prevailed on summary judgment, winning declaratory and injunctive relief, which required the Governor and the Illinois State Superintendent of Education to bring Illinois into compliance with the IDEA. This decision was subsequently upheld in the Seventh Circuit in the case of Marie O. v. Edgar, 131 F.3d 610, 7th Circuit, 1997.
Following a brief respite from the practice of law after the birth of her oldest child, Jill worked for three years as a consultant to United Airlines in its International and Regulatory Affairs Group.
After her son, Julian, was born with a rare genetic disorder, Jill quickly became re-immersed in the world of special education. In a twist of fate, Jill’s son received early intervention services under the mandate of the Marie O. case. Jill’s advocacy on behalf of her son soon turned to community activism. Jill serves on the board of Citizens for Appropriate Special Education (CASE), an Evanston-based advocacy and support group for families of children with special needs and regularly speaks before the Evanston/Skokie CC School District 65 Board of Education. She is a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), the Illinois State Bar Association and is admitted to practice before the Northern District of Illinois and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Jill is thrilled to have co-founded Calian & Gross, LLP, a practice where her professional skills and personal passion come together to improve the lives and education of children with special needs.