As 2015 winds down to a close, it’s a good time to pause and reflect on where we were, where we are, and where we are going as a Commission of the Illinois Supreme Court devoted to promoting professionalism, civility and inclusion in the state of Illinois. Big job? You bet. Our main tools are education, mentoring, and media outreach.
Our education efforts exploded in 2015. The Commission on Professionalism became an accredited CLE provider. Now in addition to assisting providers in developing quality CLE and approving the substance of courses in the area of professional responsibility, the Commission also will develop and provide professional responsibility CLE. Our first major project is an online interactive professionalism course on intergenerational communication we will make available at no cost to Illinois lawyers. This course will provide one hour of quality professional responsibility CLE credit to lawyers and will serve as an example to providers of the type of distance learning that is both engaging and consistent with adult learning principles. Stay tuned—coming in the first quarter of 2016.
We developed several new professional responsibility courses that were delivered by staff and Commissioners this past year. In early 2016, we will make these resources available, including model power point presentations, course handouts, and hypotheticals and scenarios in various practice areas.
We also developed and presented a unique cross-disciplinary course directed to not only lawyers, but to all personnel who work in the courthouse. Designed to underscore that lawyers, judges, clerks and bailiffs are all engaged in delivering service to those who use the courthouse, we delivered these trainings in Rock Island and Quincy, Illinois and intend to offer the course to other judicial circuits in the future.
Finally, I’m excited to report that in my role as Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism as well as the Executive Director of the Commission, we will offer a statewide professionalism conference that will be focused on dynamic legal services issues where the profession needs to be forward-looking. The conference, presented in collaboration with the Illinois State Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Association, will serve not only to educate Illinois lawyers but will also gather feedback for the ABA’s Commission on the Future Delivery of Legal Services. Mark your calendars for April 6, 2016—details will be forthcoming soon.
Our statewide lawyer to lawyer mentoring program, now four years old, has engaged over 4,500 lawyers in a year-long professionalism-related mentoring program that also allows them to earn six hours of professional responsibility CLE credit. Day to day administration is accomplished by over 80 sponsoring organizations spread across the state including law firms, law schools, bar associations. End of term surveys show that 100% of both mentor and mentee participants would recommend the program to others and 99% intend to maintain the relationship even though the required term is complete.
In 2015, following a successful one-year pilot program, the Commission approved a Distance Mentoring Exception. This new policy allows Program Administrators to allow, if necessary, five of the eight required mentoring meetings to be held via video-assisted distance technology.
Based on interest and feedback of our collaborating partners and members of the Court, a Mentoring Advisory Committee has been formed to consider expanding the availability of mentoring that earns professional responsibility CLE credit to additional members of the profession: more seasoned attorneys than currently allowed under the program as well as for mentoring of law students. In 2016, the Commission and the Advisory Committee will begin this work.
Considering the large attorney population (over 90,000) and geographic spread of Illinois (57,915 square miles), over the past several years, we have been investing in both traditional and social media as a means to educate, inform and engage lawyers on professionalism topics.
In terms of traditional media, staff and Commissioners wrote articles in bar association newsletters, the Legal Management and the Chicago Lawyer magazines and an on-going column in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. I wrote a chapter Professionalism as Survival Strategy in the seminal book published by the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism, the Relevant Lawyer, Reimagining the Future of the Future of the Legal Profession.
Meanwhile, our social media channels continued to grow both followers and engagement:
- LinkedIn, our channel for networking with law professionals, at the end of November had cumulative totals of our staffs’ connections consisting of 6,338 legal professionals, with the reach of their network connecting directly to nearly 3 million professionals. We have 788 people following our company LinkedIn page. We re-published our blog posts both in LinkedIn activity feeds as well as in the Pulse section of LinkedIn. Since the beginning of the year, staff published 81 articles on LinkedIn Pulse. These Pulse articles were read by 13,320 individuals and drew 1,465 engagements (likes, comments and shares).
- We experience very strong engagement with our content on Facebook. Here, we are able to target our constituent engagement beyond those who “Like” our page. With each post, we can target organization groups associated with the legal profession and promote engagement with specific posts and topics. Our blog and other posts on Facebook reached 492,152 from January 1 – November 30.
- Twitter followers for all staff members have grown. As of the end of November we had a total of 2,543 followers and 10,035 tweets. Engagement also continues to grow as constituents “like” and share tweets.
- Blog-website users from January 1 to November 30 totaled 44,432, page views totaled 100,836, and sessions totaled 55,910. Sessions on our website-blog come from various referral sources including search engines, social referrals (6,496 via Facebook; 1,629 via Above The Law; 952 via Twitter; 759 via LinkedIn; 449 via Reddit; and 76 via Google+) and as a result of direct hits to various pages of 2civility.org (17,866). We have international and national visitors. Almost 49% of the stateside visitors are from Illinois and statewide distribution includes 342 different cities. From January – November, we published 63 blog posts written by staff. The content of our blogs covered civility, future law, leadership, mentoring, law school, justice, legal profession, and professionalism.
- Our 2Civility Blog was named “Blawg of the Week” in early March by the ABA Journal online publications. Our website was selected by their editorial staff out of the nearly 4,000 blogs in their directory. They were impressed with the website’s content and Twitter activity. They also said that “we are on the forefront of social media.”
- In March 2015, we added a monthly electronic newsletter to our basic digital communication channels. We currently have 82,009 subscribers to our 2Civility News. Sample topics include: The Truth about Future Law, Millennial Attorney Inspiration, Learning and Networking, and Healthy Lawyer Workplaces.
Using a variety of ways to communicate allows us to connect with the many generations of lawyers engaged in different legal communities and diverse practice areas. Many lawyers send us letters, emails postings and tweets of support. We at the Commission are incredibly grateful for this interaction and the positive feedback we have received.
And whether or not you sent a note, I thank you, our dear readers, for reading. Thanks also to the dedicated staff with me on this journey, and to the visionaries on the Court and among our Commissioners who created and guide this endeavor. It is gratifying to go to work each day tapping into the inspiration that will in turn energize lawyers, the backbone of our country, to make a difference in the lives of others. I look forward to all we have planned in 2016 and beyond.
Happy New Year!