On August 19th, Ken Levinson spoke on behalf of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.
After presenting at this event for the past five years, the annual 1L Law School Professionalism Orientation Program has become one of Levinson’s favorite experiences outside of the firm.
“I talk to local law students on their first day of law school about civility, professionalism, and ethics,” Levinson said. “Over the years, I have kept in touch with many of the students–many are now lawyers–to guide and mentor them.”
The orientation program took place in a fully-virtual capacity for the first time ever, and consisted of virtual discussion on the Pledge of Professionalism, administered by a judge. Some of the schools who are participating took part in small group discussions facilitated by practicing attorneys, and all volunteer facilitators received 1.5 hours of professional responsibility CLE credit.
“My hope is people have gotten used to using Zoom and that the students are more used to it,” Levinson explained. In his discussion, he will focus on ethical dilemmas for lawyers and ask students for feedback on what they think a lawyer should do in certain situations. “Because it’s their first week of law school, they are surprised about some of the rules.”
Before the facilitated sessions took place, the Commission hosted Zoom training for all volunteer facilitators, which is set to last between 20 and 30 minutes. These training periods helped volunteers prepare for the hour-long small-group sessions where they facilitated their own sessions for the beginning law students.
“A lot of the time, something will come about up about evidence within social media, or even a text on your phone, and the question becomes: If someone comes to you with a case or a crime, can you advise your client to delete, say, a Facebook post?” said Levinson.
Many tech-savvy law students will often say the post should just be deleted, “but you cannot destroy evidence, or advise a client to destroy it, even if it’s hurtful,” Levinson continued. “So, we had a discussion as to why, and it’s really exciting to look the brand-new law students in the eye–they’re just so excited for their new profession and they’re ready to learn.”
Levinson will be facilitating a conference for the incoming law students of John Marshall Law School at the University of Illinois at Chicago.