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Demetrius Carney

Corporate lawyer and Chicago police board president Demetrius Edward Carney was born on April 29, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois to James and Jessie Carney. Carney attended Chicago’s Holy Angels Catholic School and Joachim Junior High School. He went on to graduate in 1969 from De La Salle High School. Afterwards, Carney attended Loyola University where he initially pursued a degree in mathematics, but decided to change his major to psychology.

Carney graduated from Loyola University in 1972 and went on to work as a teacher at Chicago’s St. Ignatius College Preparatory High School. While working as a teacher, Carney was encouraged by a colleague to pursue a law degree. He then enrolled at DePaul University and graduated with his J.D. degree in 1974.

Also in 1974, Carney joined the law firm of Butler, Todd & Tucker. He left the firm in 1977 and partnered with Jerome Butler and formed the private practice of Butler & Carney. Then in 1978, he was hired by Lafontant, Wilkins & Butler and represented several organizations including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Carney went on to form Carney & Brothers in 1985. He worked there until 1995 when he began working at the law firm of Wildman, Harold, Allen & Dixon, focusing his practice in the areas of real estate development. In 2003, Carney joined the Seattle based-firm, Perkins Coie, where he began specializing in the areas of government relations and lobbying issues.

Carney became the chairman of the Chicago police board. His other affiliations include the Cook County Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the National Bar Association. He serves on the board of trustees at St. Ignatius College Preparatory High School and on the board of directors at the Chicago Culture Center Foundation. Carney is a former commissioner and planning commissioner for the City of Chicago.

Carney lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Carney was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 5, 2008 and April 17, 2012

Accession Number

A2008.009

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

2/5/2008

4/17/2012

Last Name

Carney

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

De La Salle Institute

Joachim Junior High School

Holy Angels Catholic School

Loyola University Chicago

DePaul University College of Law

First Name

Demetrius

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

CAR15

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Ski The Mountain In Front Of You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/29/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Vegetables, Sushi

Short Description

Corporate lawyer Demetrius Carney (1947 - ) was a Commissioner and Planning Commissioner for the City of Chicago, who worked for several law firms including the Seattle based-firm, Perkins Coie, where he specialized in the areas of government relations and lobbying issues.

Employment

St. Ignatius College Prep

Chicago Title and Trust Company

Tucker, Watson, Butler and Todd

Lafontant, Wilkins and Butler

Butler and Carney

Carney and Brothers

Wildman, Harrold, Allen and Dixon LLP

Perkins Coie LLP

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Demetrius Carney's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Demetrius Carney lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Demetrius Carney describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Demetrius Carney recalls his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Demetrius Carney describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Demetrius Carney describes his father's craftwork

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Demetrius Carney describes his parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Demetrius Carney describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Demetrius Carney describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Demetrius Carney remembers moving with his family

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Demetrius Carney describes the sights and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Demetrius Carney recalls the Holy Angels Catholic School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Demetrius Carney describes the sounds of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Demetrius Carney remembers the Holy Angels Catholic School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Demetrius Carney describes the racial demographics at the Holy Angels Catholic School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Demetrius Carney recalls his early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Demetrius Carney recalls camping at the Abraham Lincoln Center in Janesville, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Demetrius Carney remembers his penmanship

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Demetrius Carney recalls his early interest of reading

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Demetrius Carney remembers his family's gatherings

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Demetrius Carney recalls moving to a white neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Demetrius Carney describes the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Demetrius Carney recalls his experiences at the St. Joachim School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Demetrius Carney recalls his decision to attend the De La Salle Institute in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Demetrius Carney remembers the De La Salle Institute

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Demetrius Carney remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Demetrius Carney remembers his early work experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Demetrius Carney recalls his decision to attend Loyola University Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Demetrius Carney remembers Loyola University Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Demetrius Carney remembers his first teaching position

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Demetrius Carney recalls his activism at Loyola University Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Demetrius Carney talks about his work ethic

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Demetrius Carney recalls teaching at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Demetrius Carney recalls his admission to the DePaul University College of Law, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Demetrius Carney recalls his admission to the DePaul University College of Law, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Demetrius Carney describes his law school experiences

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Demetrius Carney remembers his early legal career

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Demetrius Carney recalls joining the law firm of Tucker, Watson, Butler and Todd

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Demetrius Carney recalls founding a law firm

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Demetrius Carney recalls joining the law firm of Lafontant, Wilkins and Butler

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Demetrius Carney remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Demetrius Carney remembers his legal work for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Demetrius Carney remembers his legal work for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Demetrius Carney recalls his challenges while working for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Demetrius Carney recalls founding the Carney and Brothers law firm

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Demetrius Carney recalls the clientele of his law firm

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Demetrius Carney remembers the American Lawyers Consortium, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Demetrius Carney recalls the success of his law firm

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Demetrius Carney describes his public finance work

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Demetrius Carney remembers his mentor, Earl Neal

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Demetrius Carney recalls his decision to leave Carney and Brothers, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Demetrius Carney recalls his decision to leave Carney and Brothers, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Demetrius Carney talks about his medical condition

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Demetrius Carney describes his medical condition, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Demetrius Carney describes his medical condition, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Demetrius Carney recalls his decision to leave Carney and Brothers

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Demetrius Carney recalls the return of his brain tumor

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Demetrius Carney recalls his experience at Wildman, Harold and Dixon LLP

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Demetrius Carney recalls his clientele at Wildman, Harold and Dixon

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Demetrius Carney recalls his decision to join Perkins Coie LLP

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Demetrius Carney talks about diversity in law practice

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Demetrius Carney describes his law practice at Perkins Coie LLP

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Demetrius Carney recalls his role on the City of Chicago Plan Commission

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Demetrius Carney recalls his appointment to the Chicago Police Board

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Demetrius Carney recalls the fatal shooting of LaTanya Haggerty

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Demetrius Carney's interview, session 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Demetrius Carney describes his tenure on the Chicago Police Board

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Demetrius Carney recalls his challenges on the Chicago Police Board

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Demetrius Carney reflects upon his career

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Demetrius Carney recalls how he began working with airport concessionaires

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Demetrius Carney describes his legal work with airport concessionaires

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Demetrius Carney reflects upon the history of African American law firms

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Demetrius Carney talks about the future of minority law firms

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Demetrius Carney reflects upon his legal career

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Demetrius Carney reflects upon his career

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Demetrius Carney describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Demetrius Carney reflects upon the legacy of his generation

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Demetrius Carney describes his mentorship of young lawyers

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Demetrius Carney talks about racial discrimination in the United States

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Demetrius Carney reflects upon the political history of Chicago

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Demetrius Carney talks about his family

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Demetrius Carney reflects upon his life

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Demetrius Carney describes his legacy and how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

3$6

DATitle
Demetrius Carney recalls founding the Carney and Brothers law firm
Demetrius Carney recalls the success of his law firm
Transcript
(Simultaneous) So now how do you go from Lafontant--to Wilkins and Butler [Lafontant, Wilkins and Butler, Chicago, Illinois], to Carney and Brothers [Carney and Brothers, Ltd., Chicago, Illinois], and where does brothers come into it?$$Okay. When I--are we on film now?$$Um-hm (laughter).$$Oh okay (laughter). Were we on film all that time?$$Yeah we were, but that's fine (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) When--when I--Jewel Lafontant [HistoryMaker Jewel Lafontant-MANkarious] wanted--it was really a firm where you shared space, it's really what it was. Yeah, that's how black lawyers practiced. And I was doing very well on my own. And Jewel wanted to really form a firm, and I didn't wanna--I didn't wanna do that. I just didn't like the economics that they were proposing, you know, in terms of the work I was doing and my clients would become part of the firm. I said, "No my clients are my clients, I developed these clients," you know, I had AKAs [Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.] then, and you know, they said, "Wherever you go, we go." And so it was just a typical bartering at the time. And so I left with Jerome Butler to form a once again, form Butler and Carney. And I really had a good--had, had really good clients at the time.$$Who were some of your clients (unclear) (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) AKAs, I was starting to do work for Seaway National Bank [Seaway Bank and Trust Company, Chicago, Illinois]. I really developed a very significant real estate practice. I had picked up a couple savings and loans that I was doing--starting to do a little foreclosure work for, started to do a little real estate work. So I was developing a nice little client. You know, I was working really tough, but the, the clients are really starting to come. So I, you know, I didn't want my clients to become clients of her firm and you know, it was just probably more ego, probably would've been to my benefit as I look back, but I didn't wanna do it. So either you join the firm or you had to leave. And so Jerome and I talked about it and we decided that we're gonna leave and form our own firm. And so there was some space in the building with Tom Boodell [Thomas J. Boodell, Jr.], his--he had a firm and they had some space that they were not using on like the sixth floor. So we red- rented a suite of offices there and we started to grow the firm. And what happened was, Jerome Butler, his brother-in-law is Alan Brothers [Alan W. Brothers], so they were related. Jerome was married to Alan's sister. And so Alan was leaving Montgomery Ward and he wanted to come back into private practice, so he became part of the firm. And then right after we started the fi- growing the firm, Jerome became involved in the family-owned business that, you know, was Butler's restaurant. And so he left the practice of law to go ru- to be involved in his family business and Alan Brothers and I were the survivors. So, therefore, it became Carney and Brothers. And so we really--really started to develop the practice. Alan was a tremendous litigator and I had the skill set of developing business. And Alan said, "You just get the business and we'll handle it." So we hired a couple lawyers and I was just very good at--at--at securing business.$And you were blowing up, I'm telling you, you were like the model for, for a minority law firm (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) I was, I was--and that--and that's how I grew it. I grew it with the AKAs [Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.]--I meant excuse me, the ABA [American Bar Association], I still had the AKAs as a client. I still had Seaway National Bank [Seaway Bank and Trust Company, Chicago, Illinois] as a client. I mean it's just through these contacts that I've made along the way. And for some reason I had the knack to be able to attract business and keep business. I knew--I knew how to sell. We picked up Metropolitan Life Insurance [Metropolitan Life Insurance Company] in New York [New York]. I got on a plane and went out to New York, made a pitch on our firm and bought ba- brought back the business. I mean I just--I just had this knack in order to sell. And so that's how I grew Carney and Brothers [Carney and Brothers, Ltd., Chicago, Illinois]. When Daley [Richard M. Daley] became mayor, he liked our firm, so we picked up more business from--from--through the Daley administration.$$So during the Sawyer [HistoryMaker Eugene Sawyer] years you didn't really do any more city business?$$You know, I started to do more city business at the end. Especially after Harold Washington and then you know you have to transition to Gene Sawyer and, and Rich Daley came in. And so Rich Daley really picked up the Harold Washington executive order and so he was really trying to use, you know, increase minority business. And so we were, of course it was [HistoryMaker] Earl Neal, it was our firm and I think there was probably Garland Watt too, he was very much involved. And so we, we started picking up more city business and we're really becoming very good in the public finance area.