Sandra S. Yamate is the CEO of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (“IILP”), the legal profession’s leading diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”) think tank. Launched in 2009, IILP has become widely recognized as the authoritative source for DEI in the legal profession.
Under Sandra’s leadership, IILP has provided the profession with a unique set of empirical tools to facilitate a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive legal profession that is reflective of the society which it serves. Her most recent report is “Diverse Outside Counsel: Who’s Getting the Business?,” available at www.TheIILP.com. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Sandra designed (and now teaches) a curriculum for a law school course that educates law students about DEI in the legal profession. The course has become a fall staple at Loyola University Chicago Law School and class size has had to be
expanded to accommodate student interest. She also created the Social Impact Incubator, a group of Millennial lawyers from a wide range of backgrounds and practice settings, who are learning to be thought leaders on DEI for their generation and led the first conference dedicated to DEI for the legal profession in Europe, 2016’s “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in a Global Legal Profession” in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Sandra is a sought-after DEI speaker and writer. In 2022, she had more than 70 speaking engagements. In addition to speaking to groups about IILP’s research and work, Sandra speaks frequently to law firms, corporate law departments, and bar associations. She also serves as the DEI columnist for Chicago Lawyer Magazine.
Sandra understands and appreciates the role that bar associations, nonprofits, and academic institutions play in the legal profession’s DEI efforts. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of Women Lawyers and serves on the Board of Managers of the Chicago Bar Association. She also serves on the Board of the Chicago Bar Foundation (“CBF”) and represents the CBF on the Illinois Supreme Court’s new initiative to address better diversity demographic data collection. By special appointment, she is a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Diversity Equity & Inclusion Committee, and she serves on the Advisory Board of the AAPI Crime Victims Fund. She is one of the co-
chairs of the Practising Law Institute’s annual Diversity in Law Practice Conference. She chairs the Harvard Law School Asian American Alumni Group and helped found both the Asian American Institute in Chicago (now the Chicago affiliate of Asian Americans Advancing Justice) and the National Women’s Political Caucus of Greater Chicago. Sandra is also completing her ninth and final year as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Judicial College (“NJC”).
The recipient of numerous awards, Sandra was honored most recently with the 2022 Justice John Paul Stevens Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Chicago legal community; the 2020 Women’s Leadership Award from NAPABA; the National Bar Association’s 2021 Global Advocates Award; and the Asian American Coalition’s 2021 Ping Tom Memorial Award (the highest award given by Chicago’s Asian American community).
Sandra earned her JD from Harvard Law School and her AB in Political Science (cum laude) and History (magna cum laude) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Sandra and her husband reside in Chicago with their two dogs, Cashew and Filbert.