Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism Executive Director Jayne R. Reardon has announced her retirement. Reardon will be stepping down in May 2022.
Reardon joined the Commission as Deputy Director in 2006 and was appointed Executive Director in 2009. Under her leadership, the Commission has grown from a startup organization to one of the nation’s leading organizations dedicated to legal professionalism.
“Jayne is a tireless advocate and talented administrator who has elevated civility and professionalism in the Illinois legal and judicial systems,” said Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne M. Burke. “Her work at the Commission has impacted the lives of countless lawyers and judges and affected the quality of justice delivered in our state. The Court has been fortunate to collaborate with her for the past 15 years and she will be greatly missed.”
As Executive Director, Reardon has directed operations, programming, and outreach for the statewide organization devoted to promoting professionalism; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and improved effectiveness in Illinois’ legal and judicial systems.
Elevating and enriching professional responsibility continuing legal education (PR CLE) in Illinois has been a priority for Reardon. Under her leadership, the Commission has served as a model for the development and facilitation of interactive and engaging CLE courses, and a resource for CLE providers in designing high-quality programming. In 2021, Reardon was responsible for the accreditation and approval of more than 7,100 PR CLE courses.
During her tenure, Reardon developed the Commission’s successful statewide lawyer mentoring program, which is one of the only programs in the county that embeds the principles of professionalism into a traditional mentoring curriculum. Since its creation in 2011, the program has reached thousands of Illinois lawyers participating through over 100 legal organizations across Illinois. The curriculum has been leveraged by mentoring organizations nationally.
Reardon brought innovation to Illinois lawyers through the Commission’s annual The Future Is Now: Legal Services conference. Launched in 2016, the conference was one of the first in the state to explore future law, or trends that are impacting the trajectory of the legal profession. In 2021, the conference attracted almost 700 attendees from across the nation and even drew international attendees.
In collaboration with the Hon. Debra B. Walker, a Cook County Circuit Court Judge and former Commission Chair, Reardon created the Commission’s novel Courthouse Professionalism Training, which puts courthouse personnel in the shoes of their patrons for a day to explore professionalism and access to justice challenges. The program has been administered at courthouses across Illinois.
At the Commission, Reardon has spearheaded an increased focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession, as well as the use of innovative technology to ensure that lawyers are effectively communicating and delivering services that meet the needs of the people of Illinois.
Under her leadership, the Commission began coordinating Jumpstart, a law school preparatory program for traditionally underrepresented law students now offered by nearly all Illinois law schools. She also led a study and recommendation for mandated PR CLE in diversity and inclusion and mental health and substance abuse, which was adopted by the Illinois Supreme Court. This has resulted in an increase of more than 270% and 130%, respectively, in PR CLE offerings in both areas in the four years since the Rule change, compared to the previous four years.
Reardon directed the development of the Commission’s digital media platforms, which enable the Commission to reach its audience through an active blog, social media, and email newsletters. This includes the Reimagining Law YouTube series, which explores how lawyers are adapting the delivery of services through discussions with legal industry thought leaders.
Other notable programming developed during Reardon’s tenure includes law school professionalism orientations, which bring Illinois judges and lawyers to the state’s nine law schools to teach 1Ls the principles of professionalism; a “Train the Trainer” toolkit, which teaches CLE presenters how to develop and deliver effective CLEs; and the Profiles in Professionalism video series, which documents the wisdom and perspectives of Illinois legal leaders who are nearing the end of their careers.
From a judicial perspective, Reardon has frequently taught on professionalism at the Illinois Judicial Education Conference and the Cook County New Judges’ Seminar. She is a member of an Illinois Judicial Conference Task Force that is researching and drafting professionalism codes for the employee and justice partner groups of the Illinois judicial branch.
“Jayne’s impact on the legal profession cannot be overstated,” said Martin Sinclair, Chair of the Commission on Professionalism. “She has been an invaluable colleague to me and every member of the Commission and has served as an unwavering example of what professionalism should look like. At the Commission, she has built a strong organization that will continue to deliver on the Court’s vision of creating a more civil and inclusive profession. On behalf of my fellow Commissioners, I would like to thank Jayne for her exceptional leadership and passionate dedication. It has truly been a pleasure to work with her.”
Reardon has spread the Commission’s mission to lawyers throughout and beyond Illinois as a writer and speaker on topics of legal ethics, professionalism, and the changing practice of law.
She has held leadership positions in several bar associations and legal organizations. This includes past-Chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Professionalism, the Association for Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL) Future of Lawyering Committee, the Executive Board for the National Legal Mentoring Consortium, and Board Member of the Institute for the Future of Law Practice.
Prior to joining the Commission, Reardon served as counsel to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Review Board and was a successful trial lawyer in Chicago.
The ABA named Reardon a 2021 Legal Rebel and a 2020 Women of Legal Tech honoree. She received the Illinois Judges Association’s Amicus Award in 2020, the Illinois Bar Foundation’s Distinguished Service to Law and Society Award in 2017, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois Vanguard Award in 2016, and the Phi Alpha Delta Legal Fraternity Meritorious Achievement Award in Promoting Civility and Professionalism in 2016. In 2019, Reardon was named to the Fastcase 50, which recognizes legal visionaries.
“It has been one of my greatest honors to serve as Executive Director of the Commission on Professionalism,” Reardon said. “I would like to thank the Illinois Supreme Court for prioritizing attorney professionalism and its impact on the justice system, and for the opportunity to advance this mission. I would also like to thank our Commissioners, past and present, whose dedication and enthusiasm has truly been second to none. Finally, I would like to thank our talented staff, who will continue to push the Commission forward in delivering innovative professionalism programming for the attorneys and judges of our state.”
An executive search committee made up of Commissioners to the Commission on Professionalism has retained the services of Amy McCormack of McCormack Schreiber Legal Search to oversee a comprehensive search for a new Executive Director.
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 2Civility.org and follow us on Twitter @2CivilityOrg.
Laura Bagby, Communications Director