Joel Daly, Class of 1988
Emmy-winning newscaster and trial attorney
Joel Daly enjoyed more than half a century as a broadcast journalist, garnering five Emmys for his reporting and writing while at WLS-TV in Chicago. Together with the late Fahey Flynn, he formed part of the highest rated new team in the city, winning a local Emmy after just one year on the air. Daly was the recipient of the first ever Pioneer Award from the Illinois Broadcaster’s Association in 2008 and the Silver Circle Award from the local Academy of Radio and Television Artists. He was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame in 2001 as a “living legend.” Daly launched a legal career in 1988 after graduating from Chicago-Kent’s evening program and became a practicing trial lawyer. He has served as an adjunct professor at both Chicago-Kent and John Marshall Law School and most recently served as Information Officer for the Federal District Court in Chicago.
What were you like as a law student?
Very organized. I was very organized, I had to be, I was working full time at Channel 7 and had other duties, obviously. I wanted to do well and I had always been a scholar or a student of some kind. So I had my notes retyped within a day and everyone thought I was kind of a grind.
What would people find most surprising about you?
That I’m a singer and a yodeler and I sang in a country band. They didn’t quite equate the two but I always told them, we’re just communicating, whether I’m singing a song or in a courtroom trying a case or on television doing the news.
What has been your greatest professional achievement?
Just getting here, I guess. I don’t know, I suppose the fact that I endured, if that’s the proper verb, so long and so well in a single station in a single city. It’s still a record that hasn’t been broken and may not be. Thirty-eight years at the same station doing the same thing, which was communicating with people by way of television. Just having that longevity is probably the best indication of achievement that I can think of.
What was the greatest challenge you have faced in your career?
I suppose it was getting recognition from people in the community, and particularly in the law community, that I was not a dilettante, that I took this seriously and I did my work seriously and conscientiously. So it was kind of overcoming my celebrity – that I really was a working lawyer.
How did you overcome it?
By results. By winning a few trials and I got people to realize that I was serious, that I was doing my job for my client, whatever the case was.
How did Chicago-Kent prepare you for your present success?
I was already successful, so I think it prepared me to be a little more humble about my success because I was now in a field that I was an absolute novice. And I had to start all over again and try to do it well again and be good at what I did again. I used all the tools I had – my background, my experience, my ability to communicate, my ability to write and research. All of that was part of my law school experience as well – a big part. So I think if you ask me how it prepared me, it just kept me doing what I had been doing.