In August of 2010, the Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law Committee sponsored a program that aired on the ISBA’s broadcast of Illinois Law on Can-TV Network. The program, entitled “So You Want to Be an Attorney,” focused on answering common questions that face law students and young practicing attorneys. The Committee hoped that the program would especially help students and young attorneys of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, who potentially may not have had access to the same resources that other students use. The ISBA Special Committee on Cable TV Programming, the Committee on Women and the Law, and the Young Lawyers Division co-sponsored the program, which aired on several Tuesdays in August 2010. The program also can be found on the ISBA Web site.
The program was divided into two separate panels focusing on different subjects. Gilda Hudson Winfield moderated both panels. Part 1: “The Law School Experience,” focused on topics important to the average law student, including admissions, financial aid, academics and study commitments. The Part 1 panelists were: Rory Dean Smith of The John Marshall Law School; attorney Julie Neubauer of Aronberg, Goldgehn, Davis & Garmisa, L.P.; and attorney McKenzie Hyde of Clark Hill, P.L.C. Dean Smith, a 1983 graduate of Northwestern University Law School, serves at John Marshall as an associate dean for outreach and planning, and as director of diversity affairs and programming. Julie Neubauer, a 2007 graduate of the Northern Illinois University College of Law, practices in matrimony and family law as an associate at Aronberg, Goldgehn. McKenzie Hyde has concentrated her practice in probate, trusts and estates as an associate at Clark Hill, P.L.C., since her 2009 graduation from Loyola University College of Law.
Part 2: “The Life of a Lawyer,” focused on topics important to recently-admitted attorneys. These topics included employment, summer associate programs, bar associations, attorney practice areas and balancing work with other aspects of life. The Part 2 panelists were attorney Sandra Blake, of Lifespan Center for Legal Services, McKenzie Hyde of Clark Hill P.L.C.; and myself, of Shefsky & Froelich Ltd. Sandra, a 1992 graduate from Loyola University Law School a former Assistant State’s Attorney for Cook County, concentrates her practice in divorce, child protection and paternity, in her current role as a staff attorney at Lifespan, which assists victims of domestic violence. I graduated from The John Marshall Law School in 2008, and I now work as an associate at Shefsky & Froelich Ltd., concentrating my practice in constitutional and commercial litigation.
The Part 1 panel discussed skills and accomplishments that law schools look for in their admissions process. As part of this discussion, the panelists conveyed various strategies that prospective students should focus on prior to applying to law school, such as preparation for the LSAT. The panelists also talked about law school life, including important courses and extracurricular activities. A discussion focused on the average coursework for successful law students, and valuable skills that these students attain throughout their studies. The panelists also discussed the monetary aspects of law school: financial aid, scholarships, student loans and other costs.
The Part 2 panel discussed various skills and experiences that employers hold in high esteem, skills and experiences that take on more importance in today’s fragile legal market. The panel also elaborated on the average day for each panelist, so as to give young attorneys a glimpse of different practices, such as governmental and public interest work, firm life and litigation practice. The panel encouraged young attorneys to join their local bar associations and work on subcommittees to expand their peer base and initiate contacts. The panelists also talked about balancing work with non-work aspects of their life. Finally, the panelists discussed the importance of keeping abreast of the rules of professional responsibility.
The Committee hopes that this program met its intended audience and helped law students and new attorneys in their various paths to successful legal careers. To this end, the Committee is currently exploring how to further disseminate this program to various law schools in Illinois. A special thanks goes out to all the members of the Committee, the panelists and moderator, the staff of CAN-TV for making this program a success, and the ISBA for supporting this important program. ■