Orientation #lawschoolproblems. Type that into Google and your first result is GIF-filled website criticizing attorneys, law students, faculty, staff, legal professionals, and pretty much anyone ever associated with the law school experience. Type that hashtag into Twitter and you get a more measured, but diverse response, from the numerous law students currently enrolled in law school about their law school problems, many of which we law school graduates can relate to. But problems should have answers and that’s why I’m reaching out to you, attorney at large, in this blog post.

As I’ve written before, lawyers, bloggers, professors, and even the President have commented on law school problems. Many have also proposed, and implemented, law school solutions. But there’s still space for more. And that’s where you come in. Do you want to be part of #lawschoolsolutions? Then I have a suggestion for you. Come meet the Class of 2017.

The Commission’s Role In The Law School Orientations

Our duties at the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism include “[c]ollaborating with law schools in the development and presentation of professionalism programs for law student orientation and other events as coordinated with law school faculty.” Over the past year, the Commission has dramatically ramped up its collaboration with law schools, including the Illinois Supreme Court Oral Advocacy Program and our new Law Student Liaisons.

However, the Commission continues its mandated work to orient law students to the profession. For the past six years, incoming first year law students in Illinois have participated in a professionalism orientation program. At all nine Illinois law schools, an Illinois Supreme Court or Appellate Court Justice speaks to new 1Ls on his or her journey to the practice and how professionalism, ethics and civility play a crucial role in career trajectory and success. The Justice then invites the students to stand and take the Pledge of Professionalism. The Pledge is slightly different at each school but its core principles remain the same: a commitment to civility and professionalism and a promise to promote principles of justice.

At four of the law schools, after the students take the Pledge of Professionalism, they break into small groups and discuss the very principles they pledged to uphold. The students are given a handout with three discussion scenarios that address issues of civility, ethics, diversity and professionalism. An attorney volunteer, using those scenarios, a provided discussion guide, and their own life experiences, then leads the students in a rousing group discussion. That’s where you come in.

We need attorneys to facilitate these group discussions. For many of these students, this will be the first time they will be together as a small group, the first time they will meet each other, and for a few, the first time they will meet a practicing attorney. This is also their first introduction to professionalism issues that will touch every aspect of their careers as lawyers. As an attorney facilitator, not only will you play a crucial role in introducing them to the profession, you will also receive 1.5 hours of Illinois professional responsibility CLE credit.

While many of our attorneys return every year to repeat facilitate, we always like to reach out to members of our lawyer community to participate in #lawschoolsolutions. This year, we need attorneys at the following schools and times:

Northern Illinois University College of Law   Wednesday, August 13   1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

The John Marshall Law School   Thursday, August 14, 2014   2:15-3:15 p.m.

If you’re interested in participating, please email Michelle Silverthorn. You can also download the program materials from our website.

It’s easy to complain about what law schools aren’t doing for their students. It’s better to work with the law schools to help their students on their professional journey. The orientation program is an opportunity to do so. We hope you join us. Come meet the class of 2017!


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