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.”
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
Laura Bagby, Communications Director