Commission on Professionalism, Illinois Law Schools, Legal Organizations Elevate 1Ls from Historically Underrepresented Communities through Jumpstart

The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to report that, for the first time, first-year law students from all nine Illinois law schools participated in Jumpstart, a pre-law school preparatory program designed to elevate first-generation law students and those from communities that are historically underrepresented in the legal profession.

The program took place from August 1 through August 3, 2022.

Jumpstart students pictured with Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.) as well as Deans, faculty, and staff from Illinois law schools and the Commission on Professionalism.

Jumpstart aims to educate students on the demands and opportunities of law school, which they may not have been exposed to through connections in their personal lives. The curriculum is designed and administered by Illinois’ nine law schools and Just The Beginning – A Pipeline Organization under the leadership of Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.), who created the program in the early 2000s.

The Commission on Professionalism has been involved in Jumpstart since 2013 and serves as program coordinator. Deputy Director Stephanie Villinski and CLE & Program Coordinator Lindsay Shaw sit on the Jumpstart planning committee.

“I’m grateful that students from all nine Illinois law schools were able to participate in Jumpstart this year and that I was able to meet so many of them in person,” said Williams. “The passion these students bring to law school continues to inspire me nearly 20 years after creating the Jumpstart program. I believe that it’s the responsibility of all legal professionals to nurture this passion and support the students in achieving their goals. These students are the future of the legal profession, and we will need their passion and commitment to continue to improve the legal system. Thank you to the students, faculty, and organizers for helping to make Jumpstart the origin of many successful future careers.”

Jumpstart students pictured with Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea of DePaul University College of Law and Commission on Professionalism Executive Director Erika Harold.

In 2022, 93 1Ls were selected by their law schools to participate in Jumpstart. The program, which is held annually just before law school orientation, consists of three days of interactive virtual courses led by legal leaders from federal courts, law firms, and law schools. Courses ranged in topics from “Write Like a Lawyer” to “Thinking Ahead to Your Legal Career.”

With multiple panel discussions and small group breakout sessions, the students also had the opportunity to network with each other and faculty and learn about topics like managing work-life balance, mentorship, and maximizing opportunities for practical experience like internships.

The program closed with an in-person reception at Jones Day in Chicago.

“The Commission is honored that Judge Williams continues to entrust us with the coordination of Jumpstart,” Villinski said. “Programs like Jumpstart and the dedicated people behind them are critical reminders that a more inclusive legal profession is possible, and that qualified, passionate students and professionals are taking concrete steps today to change the current reality.”

(From L to R) The law clerks panel, Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.) at the Jones Day reception, and the Federal Judges Panel.

Additional collaborators include Chicago-Kent College of Law; DePaul University College of Law; Loyola University Chicago School of Law; Northern Illinois University College of Law; Northwestern Pritzker School of Law; Southern Illinois University School of Law; the University of Chicago Law School; the University of Illinois College of Law; Jones Day; Just The Beginning – A Pipeline Organization; and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (the Marshall Motley Scholars Program).

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.

Press Contact

Laura Bagby, Communications Director

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