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KAPOS: Another Shiller is fighting for the little guy

Brendan Shiller in his office at the building that he and his colleagues have dubbed the "Westside Justice Center." | Shia Kapos/For the Sun-Times

Another Shiller is championing the little guy. Meet Brendan Shiller, son of Helen Shiller, the former alderman who advocated for the downtrodden in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.

The younger Shiller has opened a law firm on the West Side along with a few other small firms and legal-focused nonprofits.

They’ve named the building the Westside Justice Center. It has a nice ring to it, Shiller tells me. But it’s come to have a deeper meaning for area residents needing help with property taxes, unpaid water bills, child support, landlord-tenant problems and expungements.

So many residents have sought pro bono advice from Shiller’s Shiller Preyar LLC law firm that he formed a nonprofit with volunteer attorneys to handle their cases. It’s named, naturally, the Westside Justice Center and is also located in the building.

Shiller’s mom is a familiar face there, too. She’s helping a former convict/chef open the Dram Chef restaurant in the building.

Brendan Shiller has spent his career fighting injustice. He was a high school drop-out who dabbled in journalism at the left-wing All Chicago city newspaper. He went on to earn his GED before getting a journalism degree from Howard University and law degree from John Marshall Law School.

A big-time lawyer’s salary would be nice, but Shiller’s more interested in fighting injustice. Among his clients: an African-American woman who says she was handcuffed and then beaten by a police officer.

“When you talk about someone being wrongfully accused or convicted or being beat up by the police or the government taking advantage of an individual’s rights, you see a direct line between that injustice and the anger it invokes,” he said during an interview in his office.

When he’s not working, you might find Shiller taking in a poetry slam headlined by his oldest daughter, Britteney Black Rose Kapri. He and his schoolteacher wife, Brenda, also have a daughter in college.

Over the summer, Shiller’s been pulling together photos and memorabilia showcasing the Black Panther Party, which is marking the 50th anniversary of its Chicago chapter. Starting Sept. 1, the Westside Justice Center will showcase the pieces. “It’s a good fit,” Shiller says.

Sandi Jackson takes a swipe

After winning a round to get their contentious divorce litigated in Washington, D.C., Sandi Jackson is now trying to prevent Jesse Jackson Jr.‘s Chicago attorneys from representing him there.

Sandi Jackson is in a contentious divorce from her husband, former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. | AP file photo

In documents filed in Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Sandi claims Barry Schatz, the founding partner of Berger Schatz matrimonial firm, and partner Brendan Hammer lack the necessary “skill and care for this complex divorce matter.”

That’s funny given the high-profile cases the Chicago firm has handled, including that of billionaire Ken Griffin. Most recently the firm won a 10-year-old divorce case that’s rewriting how courts handle legal fees.

Sandi is the former alderman who, like her estranged husband, served time in prison for corruption.

Her filing accuses Berger Schatz of litigating the Jacksons’ divorce in the media. According to the document, “civility” would be lost if the Chicago attorneys joined Jesse Jr.’s D.C. legal team.

Schatz didn’t respond to a request for comment and neither did Sandi’s attorney, Chandra Walker Holloway, whose office is in suburban Washington.

Love doctor takes her story to TV

Chicago sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman has inspired an upcoming TV series.

Sex therapist Laura Berman’s life is inspiring a TV show that’s being developed. | Provided photo

“Quantum Love” will cover “all the embarrassing and inspiring” moments of having “a sexpert” as a mom and wife, Berman told me. She’s married to longtime public-relations exec Sam Chapman, is mom to three sons and is a cancer survivor.

The show is named after Berman’s recent book, which caught the attention of producers. They also have Chicago ties. Sheri Salata is the former producer of Oprah Winfrey‘s show, Nancy Hala was a Chicago branding exec and interior designer/TV personality Nate Berkus is a Chicago native. His husband, Jeremiah Brent, is also part of the producing team.

No word yet on where the show will be set, but Berman says “Chicago is my hometown and will definitely be a character in the show.”

Wisdom for Giannoulias

With the birth of his second child, Alexi Giannoulias has found wisdom.

He and wife Jo are the proud parents of Sophia Katerina. “Everyone’s healthy,” Giannoulias said in a short note.

Alexi and Jo Giannoulias have added a second daughter to their family. | Sun-Times file photo

The name has meaning. Sophia is the Greek word for “wisdom” and Katerina is the name of Giannoulias’s grandmother, who lives in Crete.

The couple’s oldest child is 2-year-old Anna Elise, named after Giannoulias’s mom and Jo’s sister.

Giannoulias is a senior director at Bank of New York Mellon Corp. in Chicago and a former state treasurer. A Democrat, Giannoulias also lost the 2010 U.S. Senate race to Mark Kirk. His wife’s family owns Terlato Wines International.