Last week Tia Haywood Monte was in court representing Luis Pedrote-Salinas who is facing deportation because he was falsely put on the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) unconstitutional gang database. For Tia this case isn’t just another fight for justice with Shiller Preyar Law Offices (SPLO), it is personal–the gang database is used to target both the African American and immigrant sides of her blended family.
Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago in a quiet, largely African American community where everyone knew each other, Tia knew she wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer as a senior at Morgan Park High School. She saw how constant run-ins with CPD was affecting her family and she was determined to do something about it. Tia wasted no time in making this dream a reality–she took her first step and joined debate and public speaking so she wouldn’t be afraid to argue in front of a judge.
Tia went on to get an undergraduate degree from Howard University, where she majored in political science, international studies, and French; then she obtained her law degree from Case Western Reserve University in 2015. She took a job doing contract law, but left after a few months to pursue a career representing the people she went into the field for. She represented her first solo client–a guardianship case–in July 2016 and won.
Her interest in immigration law came in 2010 when she met her husband–who hails from El Salvador. Family-oriented as ever, Tia couldn’t stand the idea that the government could remove him from their home, so she started to learn to navigate the system to keep him in the country.
In 2016 Tia became a consultant to SPLO, specializing in immigration and civil rights cases. She also owns her own practice, Haywood Monte Law Offices (HMLO)–her practice is shaped around a larger image of justice for Chicago and fighting for what is best for her community. Her firm takes on criminal defense cases as well as landlord/tenant cases and with the housing authority. Recently she won an appeal against the Housing Authority of Cook County for a disabled mother of six, allowing them to keep their housing voucher.
In her spare time Tia volunteers with Lawyer’s Committee for Better Housing, the Legal Assistance Foundation, the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee, First Defense Legal Aid, and the Chicago Community Bond Fund leading know your rights workshops and gives free legal advice on immigration and wills and estate planning.
A world traveler, Tia has been to Spain, France, the United Kingdom, and Micronesia, as well as living in Washington D.C. for college, but she always returns to the city that raised her. And although she owning her own firm allows her to be the chariot of her own destiny, she is and will always be a member of the SPLO family.
“Shiller Preyar attorneys are experienced, passionate, zealous litigators, they’re all my mentors. Every last one of them comes with their own experience and strengths and every last one of them has no problem sharing that. And for a young attorney that’s the key to success. I couldn’t start my own firm without my foundation. SPLO is my foundation, the Westside Justice Center is my family.”