The Commission on Professionalism is committed to fostering increased diversity and inclusion among the lawyers and judges in the State of Illinois. Therefore, it is pleased to partner with Jumpstart, an education program designed to support underrepresented minority students as they begin their law school studies.

Jumpstart is a preparation program designed to help students develop the academic and interpersonal skills to navigate law school and become successful legal professionals. The three-day program brings together incoming students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession, from the six Chicago-area law schools and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before the official orientations at their respective law schools. Through a series of interactive sessions, students confront the challenges that all first-year law students face and learn about the crucial components to a successful and satisfying law school experience. They also learn about important resources and support available to them on an on-going basis.

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. – Kizuwanda Wyatt, DePaul College of Law Class of 2021

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Jumpstart History

Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.) launched the Jumpstart Program in the early 2000s to help underrepresented minority law students learn what to expect in their first year of law school and learn best practices to become successful lawyers.

For over a decade, the various Chicago-area law schools have identified Jumpstart students and collaborated to create and present a curriculum providing context for success in law school and beyond. The curriculum includes practical tips for driving success in the classroom as well as experience in networking and exposure to various aspects of the legal profession.

The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism has supported the program since 2013. In 2018, the Commission expanded its support with increased program and publicity services as well as taking on a permanent coordination function for representatives from the various law schools involved in the program, known as the Chicago Consortium of Law School Professionals.

Thank you for a phenomenal week during Jumpstart. The entire program was inspiring, informational, and interactive from start to finish. The program couldn’t have gone better. Every lecturer had valuable advice to share that really will help to have an early advantage during the first year of law school.  Hope to stay in contact during the legal journey. – RJ Curington, DePaul College of Law Class of 2021

Chicago Consortium of Law School Diversity Professionals

To advance diversity and foster inclusion in the legal profession, the mission of The Chicago Consortium of Law School Diversity Professionals is to develop programming and work collaboratively to enhance recruitment, retention, and advancement of racial, ethnic, and historically underrepresented students in the legal profession. Below is the contact information for each of the participating law schools.

DePaul University College of Law

Dr. Ana Vazquez-Rivera
Director of Diversity, Inclusion & Student Life
(312) 362-8299

Chicago-Kent College of Law

Marsha Ross-Jackson
Senior Lecturer & Assistant Dean for Student Professional Development
Executive Director – Institute for Law and the Workplace
(312) 906-5346

UIC John Marshall Law School

Tania Luma
Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
(312) 427-2737 ext. 542

Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Melissa Hale
Director of Academic Success & Bar Programs
(312) 915-7605

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Shannon Bartlett
Associate Dean, Inclusion & Engagement
(312) 503-3770

Candace M. Bergeron
Associate Director of Student Engagement & Community
(312) 503-4557

The University of Chicago Law School

Meg Bingle
Assistant Director of Admissions & Financial Aid
(773) 834-0094

Christopher Clarke
Director of Diversity & Inclusion
(773) 702-7841

The University of Illinois College of Law

Virginia M. Vermillion
Assistant Dean for Academic Administration, Dean of Students
(217) 333-1097


The following organizations work to increase diversity and inclusion in the legal profession through expanding opportunities and providing support.

Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program (DAPP) is a non-profit corporation 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 from other under-represented 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 (MLER), Inc. is a non-profit organization that assists under-represented minority groups prepare for the Bar Exam in Illinois. 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 Exam, manage stress, and understand how to balance their other real-world obligations while studying for the Bar.

Career Services

Each of the participating law schools has a career services office staffed with personnel who are dedicated to helping students and alumni find work in any city and in any legal practice area. Career services assist law students in finding externships, practicums, clerkships, and summer associate positions shaping each student’s career aspirations.

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