Leslie Richards-Yellen concentrates her practice in the public finance arena.  Since 2007 she has served as borrower's and issuer's counsel and work out counsel for issuers and conduit issuers, such as healthcare facilities, cultural institutions and charter schools. She has experience as in-house counsel and in private practice.

In addition to her practice, Ms. Richards-Yellen serves as the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP. She is a member of Hinshaw’s Executive Committee, Chair of the Diversity Committee and a co-chair of the Attorney Life Committee.

Ms. Richards-Yellen was an officer with a leading mutual fund company from 1993 to 2005. As an associate general counsel for the mutual fund company, she created the role and responsibilities of fixed income counsel, and provided legal services and analysis for the fixed income group. Ms. Richards-Yellen managed and developed strategies to enhance the value of distressed debt, and led recovery efforts for municipal and corporate deals. She performed legal and structural review and negotiations for securities and reviewed and negotiated many municipal derivative tender option bond programs. Ms. Richards-Yellen also helped develop a compliance process for money market funds. She was also appointed by senior management to serve on the Code of Ethics Committee, and the Diversity Leadership and Training Committee.

Professional Background

Ms. Richards-Yellen joined Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in April 2007.

In 2014, Ms. Richards-Yellen was appointed to a two-year term on the State of Illinois Supreme Court's Commission on Professionalism (ISCCP). She also serves as Chair of the ISCCP's Diversity Committee.

From 2012–2014, Ms. Richards-Yellen served on the Board of Hinshaw Consulting, a strategic management consulting business that was acquired by the firm in April 2012.

From 2007 to 2009, she served on the National Association of Bond Lawyers (NABL) Steering Committee where she was responsible for the “Defaults, Workouts and Bankruptcy Issues in Public Finance” panel. She was selected as an Investment Company Institute (ICI) delegate on the Muni Council, sponsored by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) 2001 to 2005. From 1994 to 2005 she was a member of the ICI Fixed Income Committee.

Ms. Richards-Yellen served a three-year term 2002 to 2005 on the National Association of Securities Dealers’ Fixed Income Committee (currently the Financial Industry Regulation Authority) where she represented the buy-side perspective.

Ms. Richards-Yellen is a former member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators and served as its general counsel from 1991 to 1993. In addition, from 1992 to 1993 she was an advisor to the executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

From 1991 to 1993, Ms. Richards-Yellen was an adjunct professor at Hofstra University School of Law, where she taught a public finance seminar.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Foundation, Member
  • Economic Club of Chicago, Member

Diversity Organizations

  • Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms
    • Board of Directors, Chair (2011–2013)
    • Board of Directors, Member (2008–2016)
  • National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL)
    • President Elect (2015–2016)
    • Program Committee Co-Chair (2008–2013)
  • Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession, Advisory Board (2010–Present)
  • Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago, Inc. (BWLA), Lifetime Member
  • The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) and the Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals (ALFDP), 2014 Diversity & Inclusion Summit, Planning Committee (2013)

Honors & Awards

  • "Vanguard Award," Chicago Bar Association, 2016. Honors individuals who have made the law and legal profession more accessible and reflective of the community at large.
  • The Young Lawyers Section of Chicago Bar Association received the "American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Affiliate Diversity Award" for "An Introduction to Implicit Bias and its Relationship to Lawyering" presentation by Leslie Richards-Yellen and Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea, NIU School of Law, 2014.
  • "Mentorship Award," DePaul Black Students Law Association, 2012.
  • "Helping Hand Award," BWLA, 2010.
  • "Woman of Excellence Award," Chicago Defender, 2010.
  • “President’s Award,” Cook County Bar Association, 2008 and 2010 for her work with the first-year minority law students’ reception.


In speeches before regulators and industry and trade groups, Ms. Richards-Yellen represented the buy-side’s perspective on compliance, SEC and IRS regulations, disclosure, new products and workouts. She has presented at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Municipal Securities Roundtable, NABL, MSRB and the National Federation of Municipal Analysts. 

Ms. Richards-Yellen delivered Blackburn College’s 139th commencement address, entitled “Transformational Work,” during the college’s 2008 graduation ceremony, in Carlinville, Illinois. Her other presentations include:

  • "Metrics, Diversity and Law," Panel, American Bar Foundation Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, May 6, 2016.

  • "Unconscious Bias in The Legal Profession," BWLA March Roundtable, Chicago, Illinois, March 22, 2016.
  • "Unconscious Bias," William Charles Construction, Peoria, Illinois, February 25, 2016.
  • "Successful Advancement and Leadership: Overcoming Hidden Challenges," ABA Business Law Section Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, September 18, 2015.  
  • "What Drives Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Forward?," American Law Institute program, Chicago, Illinois, June 2, 2015.
  • "The Strategy, Structure and Scope of Women's Initiatives in Law Firms," National Association of Women Lawyers, West Point, New York, May 2015.
  • "Unconscious Bias," Transform Rockford, Rockford, Illinois, April 2015. 
  • "Unconscious Bias and Its Relevance to the Teaching—Learning Environment," John Marshall Faculty Development Series, Chicago, Illinois, February 2015.
  • "Women's Initiatives 2.0: Enhancing the Impact of your Women's Initiative," NALP/ALFDP Diversity and Inclusion Summit, Chicago, Illinois, June 2014.
  • "Implicit Bias," Chicago Bar Association, Chicago, Illinois, March 2014.
  • "Diversity Matters Panel," Black Law Students Association, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, February 2014.
  • "Implicit Bias," Black Law Students Association, University of Chicago Law School, Chicago, Illinois, November 2013.
  • "Implicit Bias," American Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, Leadership Conference, Chicago, Illinois, June 2013.
  • "Working with Diverse Client Populations," Public Interest Law Initiative, 2013 Educational Seminar Series, Chicago, Illinois, June 2013.
  • "Gender Bias Against Women in the Law: Where Are We and What We Can Do About It," Podcast, National Association of Women Lawyers, Chicago, Illinois, April 2013.
  • Closing remarks, Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms 25th Anniversary, Chicago, Illinois, March 2013.
  • "Raising the Bar—Careers and Experiences of Cornell Law School Alumnae," Cornell Law School, Ithaca, New York, March 2013.
  • "Beyond the Suit—Preparing for the Hiring Process," Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, Chicago, Illinois, February 2013.
  • "Organizing for Diversity," American Bar Foundation Future of Legal Diversity conference, Chicago, Illinois, May 2012.
  • “Redefining the Face of Diversity—The Status of Black Women Lawyers in America,” BWLA National Summit of Black Women Lawyers, Chicago, Illinois, April 2012.
  • “Programs and Strategies That are Working in Other Cities and States,” Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Professional, St. Louis, Missouri, April 2012.
  • “Law Firm Economics 101,” The Leadership Institute for Women of Color, Atlanta, Georgia, March 2012.
  • “Implicit Bias,” Kane County Bar Association, Geneva, Illinois, March 2012.
  • “Career Paths and Diversity in Law Firms,” Black Law Students Association, Cornell University Law School, Ithaca, New York, February 2012.
  • “Does Diversity Exist in Law Firms?” Chicago Lawyer Magazine Conference, Chicago, Illinois, November 2011.
  • “Overview of Bond Financing for 501(c)(3) Hospitals,” Hinshaw’s Annual Healthcare Conference, Lisle, Illinois, November 2011.
  • “Implicit Bias,” Winnebago County Bar Association, Rockford, Illinois, September 2011.
  • “It Starts With You—Practical Steps You Can Take Now to Achieve Success and Advance Women in Law,” The National Association of Women Lawyers 2011 Annual Meeting, New York, New York, July 2011.
  • “Balancing Work and Home: Is it Possible to be a Wife, Mother and Have a Successful Law Career?” DePaul Black Law Students Association, Chicago, Illinois, February 2011.
  • “Tax-Exempt Bonds Post-Issuance Compliance,” Hinshaw’s 2008 Health Care Conference, Lisle, Illinois, November 2008.

Community/Civic Activities

  • Cornell Black Lawyers Alumni Network, Member at Large and Co-Chair of Midwest Region (2014–Present)
  • Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation, Board Member (2012–Present) and Finance Committee Member (2015–Present)
  • Cornell Law School, Fund Raiser (2004–Present)
  • Blackburn College, Board of Trustees and a Member of the Finance Committee (2009–2013)
  • Chicago Jesuit Academy, Board of Directors and Member of the Finance Committee (2007–2011)
  • Radnor A Better Chance, Past Board Member and Host Parent (1995–2005)
  • Wayne Elementary Parent Teacher Association, Board of Directors (1995–2002)
  • Chester County Fund for Women and Girls, Chair of the Finance Committee (1997–2002)


J.D., Cornell Law School

B.F.A., Drake University