"I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people." -Rosa Parks.
Yolanda Harris Sayre is an attorney, adjudicator and problem solver. Yolanda served as Legal Counsel for the Illinois State Police, where she practiced primarily litigation, administrative law, employment, criminal and civil rights law from 2021 to 2023. There she dealt with a broad array of issues from discrimination to firearms regulation to forensic science.
Yolanda’s career began with the Texas Attorney General’s office where she worked during law school and learned the fundamentals of litigation. There she practiced with a student bar card and sued fraudulent bankers and insurers, winning millions of dollars for the people of Texas. After working at several large law firms and deciding against that lifestyle, she took a position with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) as an original civilian trainer of Community Policing and Diversity Management. She taught large groups of community members and police officers how to work together to solve problems of crime and disorder.
Soon after, Yolanda became the first African American to serve in the position of Attorney at CPD. One of her duties was teaching 18,000+ law enforcement officers of all ranks over 92 different legal topics, including: Arrest, Search & Seizure, Evidence, Civil Rights & Liability, Use of Force, Laws of Admissions, Rights of the Accused, Juvenile Law and Firearm Laws. Yolanda also served as a Subject Matter Expert in criminal law and procedure and has served as both an expert witness and a consulting expert in state and federal cases, depositions and trials. Assigned to the Office of Constitutional Policing and Reform, her mission was to improve the criminal justice system and police / community relations. Prior to leaving, Yolanda wrote the new Constitutional Policing Fourth Amendment Curriculum for the entire Department.
Yolanda also maintained a private practice in which she has practiced commercial and other types of litigation as both Of Counsel for Stein Law Offices and through limited scope agreements. She has successfully represented litigants in the Circuit Court of Cook County and in administrative cases before the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Department of Justice. For more than 10 years, she has been repeatedly appointed and awarded contracts to preside over complex administrative hearings as an Administrative Law Judge by agencies such as the Cook County Officers Electoral Board, the Chicago Board of Elections (collectively the “Electoral Boards”), and most recently the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD). As an Administrative Law Judge, she made hundreds of evidentiary rulings and ruled on hundreds of motions. She has authored many written opinions which were adopted and published online. In addition, for two years she was appointed as a Prosecutor (on contract) for the Illinois Secretary of State where she handled more than 100 evidentiary hearings involving license revocations for Vehicular Homicides, Fraud and DUI cases.
Yolanda is an Executive Board member of the Illinois Association of Administrative Law Judges and is an active member of several bar associations. She is a current Co-Chair of the of the Chicago Bar Association (CBA) Administrative Law Committee, Co-Chair of the Cook County Bar Association (CCBA) Criminal Law Committee and serves on the Administrative Law Section Council of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA). She is also a member of the Black Women’s Bar Association (BWLA), the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois (WBAI), the Decalogue Society of Lawyers (DSL) and the Puerto Rican Bar Association (PRBA). Formerly, Yolanda served on the Chicago Bar Association (CBA) Judicial Evaluations Committee, in both the Hearings and Investigations Sections.
In her constant effort to help improve the justice system, she has worked on volunteer and pro bono projects such as teaching Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes, providing free legal advice to community residents, and serving as an Attorney in various Expungement Summits to help people obtain housing and employment by clearing their records. In addition, Yolanda volunteered with the Pro Bono Jury Program for the First Municipal District. She is a member of Delta
Sigma Theta Sorority and coordinated many community service initiatives including projects in several villages in Africa.
Yolanda earned her Bachelor's in Economics and Finance from State University of New York - College at Buffalo. She graduated from the University of Texas- Austin School of Law and earned a Graduate Certificate in Training and Performance Management from Saint Xavier University-Chicago.
Yolanda is as culturally diverse as she is professionally diverse. She is of African American, Belgian and French heritage, and she spent much of her childhood in Latin America where she became fluent in Spanish. She is a resident of Bronzeville, in Chicago.