Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism joined seven Illinois law schools and legal professionals from Chicago and beyond to give 228 1Ls a “jumpstart” on law school.
Jumpstart is an annual law school preparatory program that provides historically underrepresented law students with the tools they need to succeed in law school. The 2021 program was held virtually from August 9-12.
During Jumpstart, students took part in educational sessions ranging from “Law School 101” and “Write Like a Lawyer” to interactive panels and networking opportunities with industry leaders including Northern District of Illinois federal judges, Chicago Big Law attorneys, and the associate corporate counsel for Amazon Music.
For the first time, a student recruiting manager for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s (LDF) Marshall-Motley Scholars Program joined the Jumpstart faculty. The LDF’s pipeline program is aimed at developing the next generation of civil rights lawyers in the South.
Jumpstart 2021 participants included students from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, DePaul University College of Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, UIC Law, the University of Chicago Law School, and the University of Illinois College of Law.
“Many of the students are the first in their families to attend law school, so they lack the legal connections and industry exposure that some of their classmates may have,” said Stephanie Villinski, Deputy Director at the Commission on Professionalism who coordinates Jumpstart. “The Commission looks forward to connecting with these students each year during Jumpstart and to assisting them gain the academic and interpersonal skills that will help them succeed in law school and beyond.”
Jumpstart was organized by U.S. Seventh Circuit Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.) over 20 years ago to support first-year law students who are traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession. The Commission on Professionalism has been involved in Jumpstart since 2013 and currently serves as a program coordinator.
As the legal profession continues to struggle with diversity, student participation in Jumpstart has more than tripled. In 2019, 63 students participated in Jumpstart; in 2020, the first year the program was held virtually, 143 students attended.
Additional Jumpstart 2021 collaborators included Chicago-Kent College of Law, DePaul University College of Law, Jones Day, Just The Beginning – A Pipeline Organization, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Minority Legal Education Resources Inc. (MLER), Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, UIC Law, the University of Chicago Law School, and the University of Illinois College of Law.
About the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism was established by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2005 under Supreme Court Rule 799(c) to foster increased civility, professionalism, and inclusiveness among lawyers and judges in Illinois. By advancing the highest standards of conduct among lawyers and judges, the Commission works to better serve clients and society alike. For more information, please visit 2Civility.org and follow us on Twitter @2CivilityOrg.
Laura Bagby, Communications Director