Sam Mendenhall, '91, Receives Chicago Illini of the Year Award

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Sam Mendenhall, ’91, a litigation partner at Winston & Strawn LLP in Chicago, has been given with the 2012 Chicago Illini of the Year award. He was honored at a celebration in Chicago on February 29, 2012 hosted by the University of Illinois Alumni Association and the Chicago Illini Club.

“Esteemed litigator, compassionate civic leader, respected mentor, decorated veteran, and selfless supporter of his alma mater, Sam Mendenhall represents the very highest values of the University of Illinois,” says Dean Bruce Smith. “Having worked closely with Sam in his capacity as past-president of the College of Law’s Board of Visitors, having spoken to grateful students and graduates whose professional careers he has helped shape, and having admired the deep commitment he has shown to the Chicago community, I can say with conviction that there could be no more deserving recipient of this prestigious award.”

photo of Sam Mendenhall

The Chicago Illini of the Year Award, cosponsored by the University of Illinois Alumni Association (UIAA) and the Chicago Illini Club, was created in 1997 to recognize the accomplishments of Chicago-area graduates of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The award’s criteria include an alumnus’ overall career achievement; positive impact, both professional and philanthropic, on the Chicago community; and a demonstrated interest in the University of Illinois.

Of the award, Sam says: “I am very honored and humbled to receive such a prestigious award. The University of Illinois, and the College of Law, have a long-standing tradition of turning out leaders, both in the workplace and the community. I am proud to be considered a part of this rich tradition.”

Sam has served as the president of the College of Law’s Board of Visitors and is past member of the law school’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) chapter. He received the BLSA’s 2011 James A. Seaberry Award for Excellence, the College’s 2008 Distinguished Alumnus Award, and the College’s Outstanding Alumni Award for Community Service. He was also chosen as an Illinois Super Lawyer for 2005-2009, as well as 2011.

Sam is a director of the Winston & Strawn Foundation and served as the firm’s liaison to the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee. He has served as a commissioner for the Chicago Housing Authority and on the board of directors of the Chicago Bar Foundation. During his military career, he was awarded the Army Achievement Medal for his leadership abilities and the Good Conduct Medal for exemplary conduct and discipline demonstrated throughout his career.