2022 was a year of profound change for both the Commission on Professionalism and me.
In April 2022, I assumed the role of Executive Director from Jayne Reardon, who was retiring after leading the Commission with vision and passion since 2009.
I transitioned from a fulfilling litigation practice at Meyer Capel in Champaign and moved to Chicago, invigorated and grateful for this new opportunity to serve the legal community and its stakeholders.
After nine months as Executive Director, I am more energized than ever by the work of the Commission and our partners throughout the legal community.
The Commission had the opportunity to work on many impactful collaborations and initiatives in 2022. Below are a few of the projects of which I am especially proud.
Whittling the list down to four was challenging, but our communications team encouraged me to keep it brief – difficult for an attorney.
So, here it goes…
1. An impactful Future Is Now: Legal Services conference
I joined the Commission days before its annual future law conference and watched the team execute an outstanding legal services conference for more than 450 legal professionals from across the U.S. and even internationally.
The speakers shared innovative ways for attorneys to deliver and measure their value to consumers in an increasingly crowded market.
One attendee wrote: “I can’t think of a seminar in recent memory that was more useful and meaningful. You hit on so many topics that will be (arguably should already be) central to the evolution of the practice of law.”
2. Serving all Illinois law schools through Jumpstart
For the first time, in 2022, incoming 1L law students from all nine Illinois law schools participated in Jumpstart, a law school preparatory program designed to support first-generation law students and those from communities that are historically underrepresented in the legal profession.
Jumpstart was founded by Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.), and the Commission is honored to serve as program coordinator.
It was deeply gratifying to collaborate with Illinois law schools to empower these remarkable students as they embarked upon their legal education.
Following the program’s completion, an incoming 1L student shared: “I was already apprehensive because I don’t come from a family of lawyers, so you helped me to feel less alone and in the dark. It made me believe that I will be able to succeed, and I can’t thank you enough!”
3. Addressing professionalism challenges through CLEs
A key facet of the Commission’s work is developing and supporting professional responsibility CLE on topics such as ethics, diversity, civility, and well-being.
Two new in-person CLEs we helped develop in 2022 were particularly well received: “Family Law: Ground Zero for Incivility and Professionalism Challenges” and “Diversity as a Mindset, Not Just an Initiative.”
These CLEs explore the first principles animating civility and diversity and equip lawyers with practical strategies for integrating these principles into their practices and workplaces.
We look forward to launching new CLEs in 2023.
4. Connecting with legal professionals across Illinois
COVID-19 put a halt to many in-person events. However, ensuring the Commission’s services and professionalism message reaches all Illinois lawyers and judges is a lodestar for us.
I’m thrilled to say that in 2022, we were back on the road. Our team presented CLEs, facilitated law school professionalism orientations, and participated in bar association events and other events advancing the legal profession through mentoring, legal technology, lawyer well-being, legal ethics, diversity, equity, and inclusion. We were able to visit cities across the state, including Bloomington, Lisle, Springfield, Collinsville, Champaign, DeKalb, Carbondale, and Chicago, just to name a few.
We also had the opportunity to visit Justice Rita Garman (Ret.) in her Danville office to memorialize her inspiring story for the Commission’s Profiles in Professionalism series.
Thank you for continuing to partner with us to advance the Supreme Court’s professionalism mission. It has been rewarding to serve Illinois lawyers and judges and to create tools to help further our profession’s highest ideals.
I look forward to all that we will accomplish together in 2023.
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