A native Chicagoan, Michael Bilandic graduated from De La Salle Institute (high school) on Chicago’s Southwest side in 1940. Upon his high school graduation he served in WWII as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps in the South Pacific. After the war he enrolled in Saint Mary’s and earned an undergraduate degree in economics in 1947.
Upon his return to Chicago, Bilandic entered De Paul University where he earned his law degree. Bilandic was a member of the Chicago City Council from 1969 through 1976, when he was appointed acting mayor following the death of Mayor Richard Daley. In 1977 he was elected mayor in his own right of the second-largest city in the U.S. After leaving the mayor’s office he returned to private law practice as a partner in the firm of Bilandic, Neistein, Richman, Hauslinger and Young.
In 1984 he was elected to the First District Appellate Court, where he served until he was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court and named chief justice.