The Northern Illinois University Alumni Association recently named Michael J. Vitale of Brookfield, the 2005 recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award for the College of Law. Selected from a pool of more than 180,000 graduates, Vitale was among this year's 11 recipients of the award, which recognizes the professional and personal accomplishments of graduates from each of the university's academic colleges. Vitale earned a law degree from NIU in 1979.
In addition to operating his solo practice in Berwyn, where he focuses on bankruptcy, juvenile and criminal law, Vitale also has devoted nearly 20 years providing pro bono services through Chicago Legal Clinic, which honored his dedication with its 2003 Pro Bono Award.
He also serves as a court-appointed mediator for custody and visitation cases in DuPage County, as well as a bar attorney for the Cook County Juvenile Court, where he represents people who do not qualify for a public defender but are unable to afford customary legal fees.
Additionally, Vitale has long provided free legal services for indigent clients seeking Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief. Overall, more than 10 percent of Vitale's legal work is done at either a greatly reduced rate or for no charge at all.
Vitale also holds a master of law degree in juvenile and family law from Loyola Law School. He is a member of the Chicago Bar Association, Juvenile Bar Association and the Juvenile Court Appellate. Vitale and his wife, Susan, have three children: Jennifer, Michael and Jessica.