Commission, Judges, and Attorneys Lay the Foundation for Professionalism in Illinois 1Ls

Over the past several weeks, Illinois justices, judges, and attorneys have blanketed the state in person and virtually to spread a message of professionalism to incoming 1L law students.

The program is part of the annual professionalism orientation at Illinois’ nine law schools. 2021 marks the 15th year the Commission on Professionalism has collaborated with the state’s law schools to produce the orientations.

University of Chicago Law Students reciting Pledge of Professionalism
University of Chicago Law School 1Ls recite the Pledge of Professionalism.

“As an attorney, your reputation is being formed the minute you step into law school,” said Martin Sinclair, Chair of the Commission on Professionalism. “To continue to promote a more ideal legal system, it’s important that we lay the foundation for attorneys who are grounded in the principles of civility and professionalism from the start. It was very rewarding to connect with the 1Ls in person again this year and to witness their enthusiasm for building meaningful and successful legal careers.”

What is the professionalism orientation?

Judge Edmond E. Chang leading Northwestern 1Ls in the Pledge of Professionalism
Judge Edmond E. Chang and Commission Chair Martin Sinclair lead Northwestern Law 1Ls in the Pledge of Professionalism.

Professionalism orientations are designed to welcome first-year law students to the legal profession and introduce them to the core concepts of attorney professionalism.

During the orientation, justices and judges from across Illinois reflect on the importance of building a legal career based on integrity and share observations on professionalism dos-and-don’ts from the bench.

At certain orientations, local attorneys moderate small group discussions with students focused on techniques for navigating challenging professionalism scenarios they see in their practice.

Finally, justices and judges lead the students in the Pledge of Professionalism, during which the students promise to uphold the highest standards and ideals of the legal profession. Illinois law students have been committing to this pledge for the past 15 years.

Justice Michael J. Burke leading Northern Illinois University 1Ls in the Pledge of Professionalism.
Justice Michael J. Burke leads Northern Illinois University College of Law 1Ls in the Pledge of Professionalism. (Photo courtesy of Northern Illinois University.)

2021 professionalism orientations

The following justice, judges, and local attorneys participated in professionalism orientations in 2021.

  • Chicago-Kent College of Law: Justice Judge Aurelia Pucinski, Justice Jesse G. Reyes, and Commissioner Trisha M. Rich
  • DePaul University College of Law: Commissioner Justice Mary Ellen Coghlan, Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman, Commissioner Lance D. Northcutt, Kendra Abercrombie, Lewis A. Check, Tracy L. Kepler, Ken Levinson, Jonathan McKay, Sari W. Montgomery, Donald Schiller, Lawrence A. Stein, and Stephanie Villinski
  • Loyola University Chicago School of Law: Justice Robert L. Carter
  • Northern Illinois University College of Law: Justice Michael J. Burke, Commission Vice-Chair James L. DeAno
  • Northwestern Pritzker School of Law: Judge Edmond E. Chang and Commission Chair Martin Sinclair
  • Southern Illinois University School of Law: Justice David K. Overstreet and Commissioner William F. Moran
  • University of Chicago Law School: Judge Jorge L. Alonso and Commission Chair Martin Sinclair
  • University of Illinois Chicago Law: Justice Carl A. Walker, Commissioner Judge Diane M. Shelley, Commissioner John K. Kim, Margaret Benson, Carmen D. Caruso, Jeffrey S. Fowler, John C. Sciaccotta, Bruce D. Goodman, Ann Hopkins Avery, Kevin M. Hull, and Patrick D. Lamb
  • University of Illinois College of Law: Justice Rita B. Garman and Commissioner Erika N. L. Harold
Justice Rita B. Garman addressing University of Illinois 1Ls virtually..
Justice Rita B. Garman addresses the University of Illinois College of Law 1Ls virtually.

More information on the Commission’s law school professionalism programs can be found on our website.

About the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism

The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism was established by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2005 under Supreme Court Rule 799(c) to foster increased civility, professionalism, and inclusiveness among lawyers and judges in Illinois. By advancing the highest standards of conduct among lawyers and judges, the Commission works to better serve clients and society alike. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter @2CivilityOrg.

Press Contact

Laura Bagby, Communications Director

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