Jeffery M. Leving, Class of 1979
Internationally known as the Fathers’ Rights attorney
Jeffery Leving is a nationally recognized family law and fathers’ rights advocacy attorney specializing in family law, divorce and child custody. He is also the author of three books that have become valuable resources for parents, legal professionals and psychologists: FATHER'S RIGHTS: HARD-HITTING & FAIR ADVICE FOR EVERY FATHER INVOLVED IN A CUSTODY DISPUTE, DIVORCE WARS: A FIELD GUIDE TO THE WINNING TACTICS, PREEMPTIVE STRIKES AND TOP MANEUVERS WHEN DIVORCE GETS UGLY and HOW TO BE A GOOD DIVORCED DAD: BEING THE BEST PARENT YOU CAN BE BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE BREAK-UP. The latter garnered praise from both President Barack Obama and Francis Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Leving has also co-authored the Illinois Virtual Visitation, Right to DNA Testing Notice, and Unlawful Visitation or Parenting Time Interference Laws, as well as the Illinois Joint Custody Law. He has testified before both branches of the Illinois Legislature on joint custody, grandparents’ visitation and child support accountability bills. He was chosen by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to provide expert input in the first Town Hall Meeting on Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families in Chicago and in 2012, President Obama awarded him the National Lifetime Call to Service Award. He also received the Professional Achievement Award from Chicago-Kent in 2012 and that same year, was recognized by the Illinois House of Representatives for his “hard work, integrity and dedication for the people of the State of Illinois.”
Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice?
Thurgood Marshall is my favorite. His fight for civil rights, his passion for the less fortunate. It’s very significant and motivating to me. It’s part of why I do what I do.
What has been your greatest challenge?
The greatest challenge was probably financial. I came from a family without financial support. Financial struggles were very difficult for me to overcome. I was also a single father, co-parenting and raising my daughter. It was very challenging, because I found out I became a better lawyer than a better father. Parenting is very difficult!
What has been your greatest professional achievement?
I started a charity to help indigent fathers, incarcerated fathers, homeless fathers and ex-offenders. That to me was very important. Also, and I was thrilled that the House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing my work in the field of family law and helping dads. I was honored by the House’s decision to pass that resolution.
What advice would you give to young attorneys just starting out today?
Don’t give up- stick to your dream. You need to follow what you have a passion for. Don’t focus on what you believe will generate the best salary for you. Don’t worry about life balance at the beginning of your profession. If you worry about it, you may have difficulty accomplishing your goals. Worry about the balance after you’ve accomplished your goals.
How did Chicago-Kent prepare you for your present success?
In many ways the diversity at Chicago-Kent was very important to me. The friendships I developed were and are very important to me. I’m still close friends with them.
How would you persuade a potential student to attend Chicago-Kent?
There are multiple benefits to attending. One: education. You’ll get a great education. You have some of the greatest legal scholars in the country. A lot of students go and remain in Chicago. If you’re going to remain in Chicago, you can develop lifelong relationships in the city. Many leave the city and do very well.