Judge Shelvin Hall was born in Cuero, Texas, in 1948. Hall attended Proviso East High School and graduated from Hampton University and Boston University School of Law. After law school, Hall received training in civil rights law through the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. She then went into private practice with four other women in Houston, Texas, establishing the first law firm in the nation that was run entirely by African American women. Over a six-year period, Hall gained extensive civil rights litigation experience. In 1982, she returned to Chicago and was admitted to practice law in Illinois. For the next eight years, she acted as general counsel to the Illinois Department of Human Rights, supervising civil rights, administrative, labor and legislative issues.
Hall was appointed to the Circuit Court in 1991, overseeing its Domestic Relations Division for four years. From 1995-1999, Hall presided over the Circuit Court's Law Division, hearing Cook County's largest civil cases. In 1999, Hall was appointed Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court's First District.
Judge Hall is chairperson of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association. She is former chair of the Illinois Judicial Council, an organization of predominately African American judges in Illinois. She has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Cook County Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the National Bar Association's Judicial Council, the Lutheran Family Mission and the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago. She was the first woman judge on the executive committee of the Illinois Judicial Conference, and serves on its education committee. She has held memberships in the Illinois Judges Association, the National Association of Women Judges, the Illinois State Bar Association and other bar groups. She is a member of the Friendship Baptist Church where her father, the Rev. Dr. Shelvin Jerome Hall is pastor. Her sister, Justice Priscilla L. Hall, sits on the New York State Supreme Court.