The Inevitable Expansion of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 711

Seal_of_the_Supreme_Court_of_IllinoisA Special Committee of the Illinois State Bar Association has submitted a proposal to the Illinois Supreme Court to expand the reach of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 711 to include private sector jobs, in addition to the public sector jobs it already covers.  For those that are unfamiliar with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 711, it is a provision that allows law students the opportunity to gain real-world legal experience in exchange for class credit.  Using their 711, qualifying law students that work for qualifying (usually governmental) agencies can stand up in court, represent clients, conduct hearings and trials, and hold depositions under the supervision of a senior, licensed attorney.  The opportunity to gain real world legal experience so early in the legal education process is invaluable to the students, and to the legal profession as a whole.

As Assistants State’s Attorney, Laura, Dean, and Pat all had the opportunity to work with and mentor 711 Law Clerks.  Their 711 Clerks conducted bench trials and evidentiary hearings in addition to the legal research and writing that is essential to becoming a successful lawyer.  They came to rely heavily on those law students to maintain a level of efficiency in their respective courtrooms.

As a second and third year law student, Tim was able to use his 711 as a law clerk for the Illinois Attorney General, City of Chicago Department of Law, and United States Attorney.  In that capacity, he had the opportunity to conduct a deposition, stand up in federal court, and prosecute petty federal offenses.  Those are experiences that he continues to draw from as a licensed attorney.

Similarly, Jayne used Kansas (Rule 719) and Missouri’s (Rule 13) equivalent to the 711 license to appear in court for the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office and her law school’s Child and Family Services Clinic and Guardian Ad Litem Clinic.  In that capacity, she presented and argued motions, conducted bench trials, conducted plea negotiations, did Juvenile Certification hearings, and had extensive client contact.  She continues to build upon what she learned in those positions today, as a licensed attorney.

The proposed expansion of the 711 license would allow law students the opportunity to work for private law practices, such as LauraLaw, and gain extremely valuable insight into how to run a law practice, what it takes to work for a private law firm, and how to better position themselves for life after law school.  In reality, the majority of law students end up working in private practice after graduation, so the opportunity to gain real world experience in such a setting, while earning school credit, will pay dividends for both the law student, and the clients they serve in the future.  Similarly, small private practices that might not otherwise be able to afford to pay a law clerk will have the added benefit of “paying it forward” to the next generation of legal professionals.

Everyone here at LauraLaw that was involved in experiential learning holds those experiences close to their heart, and I think it is safe to say that we are all in favor of the proposed expansion of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 711.  Stay tuned to LauraLaw, through the website or the free app, and we will keep you updated with the progress of the proposed expansion.  And if you are a law student who is interested in criminal defense or police defense work, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for possible job opportunities in the future.


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