What was the first thing you learned in law school? Maybe it was why you should double check the name of the ship you’re loading with cotton? Or how you can be liable for someone losing their leg if all you did was kick them under the table? What about who really caught that fox – Pierson or Post? If you’re a law student in America, it’s likely that one or more of those black letter law questions were the first legal issues you considered in school.
For most law students in Illinois however, the first thing they learn isn’t black letter law. Instead, it’s professionalism.
For the past eleven years, my organization, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, has partnered with all nine law schools in Illinois to introduce new law students to professionalism. We invite an Illinois state or federal judge or justice to speak on professionalism, civility, mentoring, and their journey to the bench. The judges who participate in our program come from a variety of backgrounds, particularly while they were in law school. We have had judges who were once part-time and evening students, judges who had children while in law school, and judges who were the first in their family to graduate from college. One of my favorite programs was when two judges whose sons were first year students in the class, appeared on stage to deliver remarks, to the complete and utter shock of their own children.
Whatever their path to the bench, each judge spends some time in their remarks conveying the ideals we hold as a profession – service, competence, diligence, expertise – and how law students can keep those professionalism ideals at the core of all they do.
Following the remarks, each student stands and joins the judge as he or she leads them in the Pledge of Professionalism. The Pledge is unique to each school but often follows this general outline:
READ MORE Before the Bar Blog September 26, 2017