A career grounded in professionalism begins in law school.

Building a more civil legal profession.

To truly change the legal profession, we must involve lawyers at all stages of their careers. But laying the foundation for civility starts at the beginning, by instilling the ideals of professionalism in our next generation of lawyers: law students.

We collaborate with Illinois’ nine law schools on programming that teaches law students the role of professionalism in creating a meaningful and successful legal career.

It’s important to instill the values of professionalism from the start. We partner with Illinois law schools to host a professionalism orientation with new students before the start of their first year.

The orientation is designed to welcome first-year students to the profession and introduce them to the core concepts of attorney professionalism. Orientation activities include:

  • An address by justices and judges from the Illinois Supreme Court and the state’s federal and appellate courts on the importance of establishing a professional identity.
  • The administration of a Pledge of Professionalism, during which law students commit to upholding the highest standards and ideals of the legal profession.
  • Small group discussions with students and local attorneys focused on techniques for navigating challenging professionalism scenarios.

We’re fortunate to work with Illinois’ nine law schools. Each offers its students educational excellence in the study and practice of law.

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Jumpstart Orientation 2024 Jumpstart History

Jumpstart is a pre-law school preparation program designed to support Illinois law students in developing the academic and interpersonal skills needed to navigate law school and become successful legal professionals. Participants are selected by their law schools and include, but are not limited to, first-generation law students and those from groups historically underrepresented in the legal profession.

The curriculum includes sessions on class preparation, note-taking, outlining, and legal writing, as well as a federal court day where students interact with federal judges and law clerks. Jumpstart also facilitates networking opportunities for participants with current law students, attorneys, and law school administrators, who answer questions on topics like externships, student organizations, time and budget management, scholarships, and well-being.

Jumpstart was created by Hon. Ann Claire Williams (Ret.), a former U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois and Of Counsel at Jones Day. The Commission has been involved in Jumpstart since 2013 and currently serves as the program coordinator.

“Thank you for organizing such an amazing Jumpstart program! I am truly changed by the information, advice, and most importantly, resources dispensed this week! I know that I will be a better law student because of my participation with this organization and I am forever grateful. I look forward to being a part of future Jumpstart activities and offer to pay it forward at next year’s program should you need anyone.” – 1L student, DePaul University College of Law, Class of 2021

The following organizations work to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in law schools and the legal profession through expanding opportunities and providing support.

Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program (DAPP) is a non-profit organization that addresses the continued and systematic decline of women of color lawyers in large law firms and across other coveted positions in the legal profession. DAPP aims to diversify the legal profession by expanding opportunities for women of color law students to secure summer positions at law firms and corporations following their first year of law school.

Just The Beginning – A Pipeline Organization (JTB-APO) is a non-profit organization composed of judges, lawyers, and other citizens dedicated to developing educational programs to inspire and foster careers in the law among students of color and other underrepresented groups. JTB-APO offers pipeline programs directly aimed at inspiring young students and increasing diversity in the legal profession and judiciary. Example programs include middle school and high school summer legal institutes, law school externships, law student scholarships, and biennial conferences.

Minority Legal Education Resources, Inc (MLER) is a non-profit organization that helps underrepresented minority groups prepare for the Illinois bar exam. MLER works with law students and graduates in developing writing and analytical skills and provides them with the necessary tools to effectively study for the bar, manage stress, and understand how to balance their other real-world obligations while studying for the bar.