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Longtime prosecutor, SEC atty Andrea Wood, Schiff Hardin atty Sara Lee Ellis among Obama fed judge nominees

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A longtime prosecutor from the Central District of Illinois, a top lawyer within Schiff Hardin law firm and an attorney from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have all been nominated to the federal bench in Chicago.

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the three today after having the recommendation from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.

Thomas Bruton, the U.S. District Clerk of Court in Chicago, said there are three current vacancies at the federal courthouse. For sometime, the courthouse had been operating with numerous vacancies. The recommendations would fill two of the three in the Chicago courthouse and one in Central Illinois, leaving one remaining vacancy in Chicago -- or the Northern District of Illinois. In Chicago, Sara Lee Ellis and Andrea Wood were tapped. In Central Illinois Colin Bruce was nominated.

"I am honored to put forward these highly qualified candidates for the federal bench," President Obama said. "They will be distinguished public servants and valuable additions to the United States District Court.

Sara Lee Ellis: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Sara Lee Ellis is counsel at the law firm of Schiff Hardin LLP in Chicago, where she is a member of the Litigation and White Collar Crime practice groups. Prior to joining Schiff Hardin LLP, Ellis was Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago Department of Law from 2004 to 2007 and handled class claims for injunctive relief and civil rights lawsuits. From 2000 to 2004, she worked at Stetler, Duffy & Rotert, Ltd., a white-collar criminal defense law firm. Upon graduating from law school, Ellis worked as a staff attorney at the Federal Defender Program in Chicago from 1994 to 1999. She received her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 1994 and her B.A. from Indiana University in 1991.

Andrea R. Wood: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Andrea R. Wood has served as Senior Trial Counsel in the Division of Enforcement of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission since 2007. She joined the Commission as a Senior Attorney in 2004, and since that time has managed complex investigations and litigation matters involving a variety of securities law violations. From 1999 to 2004, Wood was an associate at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where she handled an active litigation practice primarily in federal court. She began her legal career by serving as a law clerk to Judge Diane Wood of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 1998 to 1999. Wood received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1998 and her B.A. from the University of Chicago in 1995.

Colin Stirling Bruce currently serves as the First Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of Illinois, a position he has held since 2010. In that position, Bruce oversees the day-to-day operations of the office and helps supervise all federal criminal investigations, prosecutions, and appeals taking place within the Central District. Bruce joined the United States Attorney's Office in 1989 and has spent his entire 24-year legal career serving as an Assistant United States Attorney. During that time, Bruce has prosecuted a broad range of federal criminal cases, including large drug conspiracies, complex frauds, and computer-related investigations, and has also handled civil matters on behalf of the United States. He received his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1989 and his B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1986.

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