Illinois 1Ls Participate in Jumpstart Program for First-Generation and Traditionally Underrepresented Law Students

jumpstart 2023 faculty
Jumpstart speakers, faculty, and organizers

The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to report that 91 students from all nine Illinois law schools participated in Jumpstart 2023, a pre-law school preparatory program for first-generation law students and those from communities that are historically underrepresented in the legal profession.

The program took place from August 2-4, 2023.

Jumpstart helps expose students to the structure and expectations of law school. The students, who are chosen to participate by their law schools, take part in three days of interactive virtual courses ranging from topics like “Write Like a Lawyer” to “Thinking Ahead to Your Legal Career.”

Jumpstart 2023 students
Jumpstart students and staff from Illinois law schools

In small group breakout sessions, students discuss topics like managing work-life balance, developing a growth mindset, mentoring, and how to pursue development opportunities like internships.

jumpstart 2023 hybrid day
Tania Luma, Assistant Dean for Loyola Law’s Office of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity, presents to students at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law (L); Federal judges from the Northern District of Illinois participate in a panel discussion (R), including Judge Martha M. Pacold, Judge LaShonda A. Hunt, Judge Sunil R. Harjani, Magistrate Judge Jeffrey I. Cummings, and Judge Jorge L. Alonso.

Finally, students have the opportunity to interact with federal and Illinois judges, law clerks, Jumpstart alumni, and other law school professionals who lead and participate in the sessions.

In 2023, this included a reception hosted by Jones Day in Chicago. Speakers at the reception included Justice Rena Van Tine, Illinois First District Appellate Court; Elsa Andrianifahanana, Partner at Jones Day; Martin Sinclair, Chair of the Commission on Professionalism; and Erika Harold, Executive Director of the Commission on Professionalism.

judge williams jumpstart 2023
Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.) welcoming students via Zoom

“In my life prior to the law, I was a teacher in inner-city public schools. I’ve always loved teaching and a teacher is what I truly am at my core,” said Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.), Of Counsel at Jones Day who created Jumpstart in the early 2000s. “When I developed Jumpstart, my goal was to teach students who may not have been exposed to the legal profession how to build successful and meaningful law school experiences. I wanted to introduce these students to the people and structures that I wish I would have been aware of when entering law school. I look forward to this program every year and thank our wonderful collaborators and exceptional law students for making it happen.”

Jumpstart is administered annually by Illinois’ nine law schools and Just The Beginning – A Pipeline Organization, under the leadership of Judge Williams. The Commission on Professionalism has served as program coordinator since 2018 and has been involved in the program since 2013.

“To build trust in the justice system, it is important that lawyers and judges look like the communities they serve,” said Julia Roundtree Livingston, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager at the Commission on Professionalism. “Programs like Jumpstart support a more inclusive legal profession. The Commission is honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with Judge Williams and the state’s law schools each year on this valuable program.”

jumpstart 2023 students on Zoom
Jumpstart students via Zoom

The following organizations collaborated to develop and administer Jumpstart 2023: Chicago-Kent College of Law, DePaul University College of Law, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, Jones Day, Just The Beginning – A Pipeline Organization, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (the Marshall Motley Scholars Program), 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, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

About the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism 

The Illinois Supreme Court established the Commission on Professionalism under Supreme Court Rule 799 to promote integrity, professionalism, and civility among the lawyers and judges of Illinois, to foster a commitment to the elimination of bias and divisiveness within the legal and judicial systems, and to ensure those systems provide equitable, effective, and efficient resolution of problems for the people of Illinois.

The Commission achieves this mission through professional responsibility CLE, lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring, legal professionalism programming, educational resources, and more. To learn more, visit 2Civility.org and follow us on social media.

Press Contact 

Laura Bagby, Communications Director

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

10 thoughts on “Illinois 1Ls Participate in Jumpstart Program for First-Generation and Traditionally Underrepresented Law Students

  1. What a fantastic program. I wish something like it had existed when I was in law school (U of Michigan ’96). Despite the schools having semi-structured interview programs, these unspoken networking and research skills were never taught. I accidentally found out I was great at networking, but not until I left the big law firm and opened my own practice 16 years ago. I wish I knew in law school what I know now.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Michelle! We often hear responses similar to yours wishing for the chance to have attended a Jumpstart program prior to law school. The incoming 1Ls who attend each year leave the 3-day program feeling more informed, more connected, and more confident that they can be successful in law school and beyond. Like you, we understand that networking is vital to success in the legal profession and we hope that this program is just the beginning of that learned lesson for our law students.

  2. I would like to thank Erica Holder, Julia Livingston, and every individual that helped plan and implement Jumpstart 2023. My name is Kindra R. Speech and I attended Jumpstart 2023 as an upcoming 1L at Southern Illinois University School of Law. I took Amtrak to Chicago from Carbondale, IL and stayed in a hotel downtown from August 1 – 5 , 2023 because I wanted to immerse myself in the entire Jumpstart “experience” that my law school colleagues who live closer to Chicago have. It may have cost me a bit financially, however, I am so thankful that I made that decision and had the means to do so. Physically being in Chicago and attending Zoom and in-person lectures taught by outstanding legal professionals, visiting Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, interacting with the many diverse and wonderful other 1Ls from the nine law schools in Illinois, and having a chance to mingle with sitting judges and lawyers at Jones Day who told us personal testimonies of their lives and careers was priceless. I left Chicago feeling inspired, supported by new colleagues and potential mentors, more informed about the year ahead of me, and determined to work harder to get to the top in the legal profession. It was a phenomenal program. A special thank you to the Hon. Judge Ann Claire Williams, Ret. (of Council Jones Day) for her heart and the vision to ensure that there is a place in the legal field for a first generation 45-year-old Southern Black woman who is determined to meet her goals in life, in spite of the mountains and the valleys. God bless you all!

    1. Kindra, we at the Commission on Professionalism LOVE to hear of your excitement and appreciation of the Jumpstart orientation! Students exactly like you are the motivation for our Jumpstart preparation all year! Your commitment to learning and networking will truly benefit you within the legal profession. Please know we are all rooting for your success and we are all resources for you and each Jumpstart student! Best of luck in your 1L year!

      1. I appreciate the Commission’s support and will gladly assist with the preparation for JumpStart 2024 or anything else that is asked of me. I am an enthusiastic cheerleader for everything the Commission stands for. Blessing to all!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *