Come Meet the Class of 2016

This fall I am returning to Ann Arbor for my five-year law school reunion.  I have spent a great deal of time thinking of my first days at school and how one short week in August changed the course of my life.  My first day, I was running late for orientation and stood in front of the law school slightly bewildered as to where to go.  A young woman approached me also looking confused.  She was from Canada, I was from Jamaica.  We became friends.  Six years later, I attended her wedding.  We walked into the crowded orientation auditorium together.  I sat in the first empty seat I could find.  It was between two other women.  The first would be my law school roommate.  The second would be my bridesmaid.  Later that night, I went out with my future roommate.  She had met some friends earlier that day and wanted to introduce me to them.  Most of their names and faces blurred together.  But one man stood out.  We waved hello, found out we were in the same section, and promised to keep an eye out for each other when we started class.  Four years later, I married him.

In the fall of 2005, the Class of 2008 discussed Hurricane Katrina, criminal law defenses, and whether two ships could really be named Peerless.  Not once did we discuss our concerns about our job prospects, our massive amount of student debt, or the failing state of the world economy.  Eight years later, the Class of 2016 faces a very different legal world.  Concerns that infrequently crossed my mind as a first year law student now lie at the heart of their legal education.

But one thing has not changed.  On that summer day in August, my 1L classmates and I started a journey traversed by many great men and women before us.  We were readying ourselves for a profession rich in stature and steeped in tradition; a profession on the brink of transformation.  The Class of 2016 is starting their journey.  And they need your help.

Every Illinois law school holds a professionalism orientation program for its incoming law students. The law school brings in a Supreme Court or Illinois Appellate Court Justice to speak to the students about their new responsibilities as Illinois attorneys.  After speaking, the Justice administers the Pledge of Professionalism.  Many students have told the Commission that this is the most memorable portion of their orientation program.

In addition to the judicial part of the programming, several law schools invite legal practitioners to share practice pointers with the incoming class.  The attorneys individually facilitate discussions with small student groups.  The attorneys use provided hypothetical scenarios and their own life experiences to lead a stimulating one-hour discussion on attorney professionalism.  This is where you come in.  We need attorneys.  We need you.

The Commission invites attorneys interested in sharing their experiences with lawyers-to-be to participate in the Commission’s Law School Orientation Program as facilitators.  Not only will you get the opportunity to shape our next generation of attorneys, you will also receive 1.5 hours of professional responsibility CLE credit.

Watch this short video that explains how the whole process works and why you are an essential part of this programming.

Thank you, truly.  Here’s what we need  – we need attorneys to facilitate discussions at the following law schools at the dates and times listed below (if your school/date is “fully subscribed” that means we have all the lawyers we need for those dates; you can always email us to let us know that you’re interested for next year):

  • Northern Illinois University College of Law (DeKalb), Wednesday August 14, 2013 1:30-3:30 pm
  • The John Marshall Law School, Wednesday August 14, 2013, 5:30-6:50 pm (fully subscribed)
  • The John Marshall Law School, Thursday August 15, 2013, 2:15-3:15 pm
  • DePaul University College of Law, Wednesday August 21, 2013, 1:45-2:30 pm (fully subscribed)
  • University of Illinois College of Law (Champaign), Thursday August 22, 2013, 1:00-2:00 pm

Please let me know if you are interested in participating by signing up below.  Or if you prefer, send me an email at Michelle Silverthorn and let me know what school(s) and date(s) you prefer.

I hope you are interested.  I hope you know how much your participation means to the Commission, to the Court, and especially to those new 1Ls.  Most of all, I hope to hear from you soon.  Thank you.

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Michelle Silverthorn

Michelle Silverthorn

After spending seventeen years living in the Caribbean, Michelle undertook a number of around-the-world detours before ending up at the doorstep of the Commission, including four years as a general litigator in New York and Chicago. She remembers pretty much everyone she’s met in her travels but she would especially like to meet again the passengers on a January 2001 flight from Miami to JFK. At the pilot’s request, they donated enough money for Michelle, who had her wallet stolen, to get back to college safely. She would very much like to tell them all thanks.
Michelle Silverthorn

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