Judge Susan Alvarado Profile
By Timothy J. Klein
Judge Susan L. Alvarado is presently assigned to Courtroom 2007, handling a standard Domestic Relations call. She was selected as an Associate Judge in the most recent “class” of five appointees. Skipping the typical newly-minted-judge’s assignment of traffic court duties, her practice background is a perfect fit for immediate assignment to the third floor of the DuPage County Courthouse.
Alvarado is well known to the DCBA community, having been a five-or six- year producer of Judges’ Nite, chairperson of numerous committees, as well as a past member of the Editorial Board. Although her law practice was basically as a solo for the past 10 years, she had prior partners and associates over the 22 years since her admission to practice in Illinois. Much of that recent work also entailed numerous appointments as a Guardian Ad Litem in domestic relations and parentage cases. Child-related cases always held a special interest for her practice, particularly from a constitutional point of view – recognizing and reconciling the different “presumptions” and “burdens of proof” in dissolution cases, as opposed to those applicable in parentage cases.
Her Honor was born in England and moved to the south side of Chicago with her parents when she was in middle school. After high school she considered nursing as a profession, but during college a professor suggested her talents might better fit the legal profession. She went on to graduate from DePaul University with a B.A., then a J.D. She explains “I came to the idea of law school later in life, when my children were young and I was considering my options. I had an interest in writing and researching the law,” and pursued that course. Although foreign born, she expresses a deep appreciation for all things American, those U.S. values actually taught to her as a child in England. She is not shy about expressing her patriotism.
While practicing law and until just a few years ago, she also devoted considerable time to teaching undergraduate courses at DePaul in Civil Rights and Employment law. Her belief that basic civics and the government-related courses must be taught early to students kept her in the classroom for about 17 years. She had no interest in teaching at the law school level.
Judge Alvarado reads history and biographies when time permits and has always had an interest in the dramatic arts. “I have formed life-long friends in connection with participating in and producing Judges’ Nite,” she joyfully explains.
She declares that being a judge is the “best job I ever had – I love it.” Her method of preparation for each day on the bench consists of reviewing (not less than 4 days in advance) all of the pleadings of each file, from the inception of the case up to the date of that day’s scheduled activities. She promises that type of continued dedication on her part, and Her Honor expects nothing less from the litigants appearing before her each day. Judge Alvarado’s considerable experience, her love for research and writing, along with her enthusiasm for all things “domestic relations,” prepares her well for service in the Domestic Relations Division.