It’s that time of year again – for us at the Commission, August means the start of law school orientation.
For the past ten years, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism has coordinated a portion of the new student orientations at Illinois law schools—that is an introduction to professionalism administered by a Supreme or Appellate Court Justice.
In 2005, the Illinois Supreme adopted Rule 799, which formally established our state’s Commission on Professionalism. From its inception, the Commission was charged with promoting integrity and civility among the bench and bar. As firm believers that professionalism education must begin in law school, the Court and our commissioners feel the best place to start is the moment law students set foot on campus – at law school orientation.
At each orientation, members of the judiciary address incoming law students and administer an official Pledge of Professionalism where students promise to uphold a higher standard of integrity as a legal professional.
In addition, at some of the law schools, practitioners lead small group discussions utilizing hypothetical scenarios that incorporate challenging professionalism issues about a lawyer’s code of conduct and demonstrate the ethical and professional choices law students may face as future legal professionals.
“The profession holds itself to high standards of civility, professionalism and integrity,” said Chief Justice Garman. “Law students should be introduced to these concepts early in their academic careers, and the Court is grateful to the many members of the bench and bar who are involved in the professionalism orientation programs at Illinois law schools. The professionalism principles articulated by the judges and lawyers, and pledged to by the students, will help guide law students’ behavior throughout the course of their studies and once they graduate and become practicing members of the bar.”
This year, all nine Illinois law schools will be participating in the Commission’s professionalism orientation at each of their orientations on the following days:
- Northern Illinois University College of Law: August 12th;
- DePaul University College of Law: August 16th and August 17th;
- IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law: August 17th;
- University of Illinois College of Law: August 17th;
- The John Marshall Law School: August 17th and August 19th;
- Loyola University Chicago Law School: August 19th;
- Northwestern University Law School: August 31st;
- University of Chicago Law School: September 15th;
- Southern Illinois University School of Law: October 14th
“The thing we hear year after year,” said Justice Thomas, reflecting on the law school orientation program, “is that students are quite moved by the ritual of standing and taking a pledge to conduct themselves civilly and professionally. They are the future of our profession, and it is important that we help them build a foundation of professionalism as they begin their academic careers. The Court hopes professionalism principles continue to guide them later, as members of our legal community.”
About the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism
The Commission on Professionalism was established by the Illinois Supreme Court in September 2005 to foster increased civility, professionalism and inclusiveness among lawyers and judges in the State of Illinois. By advancing the highest standards of conduct among lawyers, we work to better serve clients and society alike. These duties we uphold are defined under Supreme Court Rule 799(c). For more information, please visit 2Civility.org, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism’s website.