Office of the General Counsel > About > Staff > ​José Padilla

​José Padilla

  • Vice President, General Counsel
  • Attorney
  • (312) 362-8590

José Padilla is Vice President and General Counsel of DePaul University, which he joined in May 2005. He works closely with DePaul’s Board of Trustees, its President, Provost and other officers. 

Padilla directs an office of seven distinguished attorneys, drawn from some of the best law schools in the nation and from some of the best law firms in Chicago. Together they provide advice and counsel on a myriad of legal issues, including corporate governance, compliance, canon law, tax law, real estate, bond financing, employment, employee benefits, athletics, litigation, contracts, intellectual property, sponsored research, constitutional law and higher education regulations.

Before joining DePaul, Padilla was an attorney and federal lobbyist for the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). While at IIT, he became general counsel for the IIT State Street Corp., a not-for-profit tax-exempt corporation that constructs and manages university housing.

Padilla also spent 16 years working on federal issues in Washington, D.C. From 1990 to 1993, he was a lawyer/legislative assistant to the late Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and advised Bentsen on legislation from the Judiciary, Labor, Human Resources, Appropriations and Budget committees. From 1993 to 1997, Padilla was a senior appointee in the Clinton Administration, serving as the Assistant Commissioner for Congressional and Public Affairs at the U.S. Customs Service, which was then a bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department. At Customs, he reported to the commissioner and belonged to the 12-person executive team that managed Customs' 18,000 employees. He developed and executed strategies to meet Customs and Administration objectives such as NAFTA, China MFN and GATT.

Upon returning to Chicago from Washington, Padilla engaged in public policy issues on his own time. He helped represent the University of Michigan before Congress and Hispanic groups with respect to its affirmative action cases before the United States Supreme Court: Gratz and Grutter vs. Bollinger.

Padilla has been an active member and leader of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) since 1997. NACUA represents 870 institutions and 4,500 attorneys nationwide. He served as an at-large member of NACUA's Board of Directors from 2009-2012, and on the Board's Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusivity from 2009 to 2015.  Padilla is currently NACUA's Chairman of the Board of Directors for the 2016-17 academic year. He is the first Latino to ever hold this position in NACUA's 57-year history.

Padilla's other nonprofit service includes past membership on the Board of Directors of the University of Michigan Alumni Association, and on the Board of Directors for the Better Government Association, a watch dog group that works for the integrity, transparency, and accountability in government. He is also a member of the American Bar Association.

Padilla is a 1983 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and is licensed to practice law in Illinois and the District of Columbia.


  • Board of Trustees
  • Crisis Management
  • Litigation
  • University Governance (Corporate Matters)