About the ISBA

Illinois Law and Leadership Institute


ILLI is offered free of charge to students from targeted underrepresented populations. While some of the programming will be offered through ISBA and SIU School of Law volunteers, the program needs your help to defray the costs of housing, food, and transportation for the students.

Sponsorship form

Printable brochure

Program Description

The Illinois Law & Leadership Institute ("ILLI") is a legal immersion program for 9th and 10th grade students of diverse backgrounds, with a curriculum that includes fun and educational activities centered on the legal profession. The program, which is a joint venture between the Illinois State Bar Association and Southern Illinois University School of Law, features a one-week summer camp hosted by the law school in Carbondale. The 2014 program will run from Sunday, June 22, through Saturday, June 28, and offer a combination of classroom lectures, logic and critical thinking exercises, writing and oral advocacy instruction, guest speakers, and field trips to two St. Louis law firms and the U.S. District Court in Benton, IL. The program concludes with closing activities in which the participant's family is welcome to attend.

Students who participate in the ILLI will:

  • Study the legal system and try a mock case;
  • Build leadership and teamwork skills;
  • "The Law and Leadership program was such a great experience and I loved having extra fun activities to do. The team leaders were fantastic and I'll sincerely miss having them around to give extra help and advice."

    "I think this program is great, not just for future lawyers but many others who may have an interest in another field. I augmented my skill sets after participating in this program. Visiting various firms was an eye-opening experience and my favorite part of the program."

    "I really liked how we got in depth with the information and how we had nights to stay up and prepare our arguments. It made me feel like an actual attorney!"

    Cultivate critical thinking skills through analyzing selected cases, debating legal issues and participating in a mock oral argument;
  • Learn what it takes to become a lawyer;
  • Develop contacts with legal professionals and organizations that provide scholarships, internships and mentors; and
  • Gain insight into the college admissions process and financial aid resources.

Recognizing that the involvement of adult role models is critical to a student's educational success, each program's closing activities will include a component teaching parents/guardians/mentors the steps involved in helping students navigate the process of taking standardized tests, applying to college, exploring financial aid and working toward the ultimate goal of attending law school.

More About the Law & Leadership Institute

The Illinois Law & Leadership Institute is a statewide initiative directed at students from diverse populations that are currently underrepresented in the legal profession, including racial and ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, and students from modest or low-income families. Open to students who will be going into the 9th or 10th grades in the fall, the program is designed to expose students to interesting aspects of the law and a variety of legal careers. Delivered in a highly interactive environment, the program also seeks to help participants sharpen the critical reading, writing, oral advocacy, and leadership skills necessary for success in high school, college and beyond.

Highlights of the Week

SUNDAY – Welcome Dinner

  • Professional Etiquette and Dress Presentations
  • Movie Night "To Kill A Mockingbird"

MONDAY – Overview of our Legal System & Trial Work

  • Guest Speaker from the Innocence Project
  • Mock trial instruction and practice
  • Networking dinner with attorneys

TUESDAY – Trials and Federal Court Day

  • Mock trial competition
  • Winners perform mock trial before federal judge
  • Movie Night: "Amistad"

WEDNESDAY – Oral Advocacy and Leadership

  • Mock Law School Class
  • Appellate Argument Instruction and Practice
  • Guest Speaker—Illinois Congressman
  • Touch of Nature Team-Building Course

THURSDAY – Field Trip to St. Louis Law Firms

  • * Negotiation Exercise and Lawyers Panel
    Hosted by Sandberg, Phoenix, & von Gontard
  • * Moot Court practice & Networking Reception
    Hosted by Husch Blackwell

FRIDAY – Moot court competitions & Celebration Fun

SATURDAY – Closing Ceremonies

  • Moot Court Final Round
  • Awards Ceremony/ Scholarships

ILLI is a collaborative partnership between the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), Southern Illinois University School of Law (SIU), and local bar associations around the state. The program is based upon an award-winning Summer Leadership Institute operated in Chicago by Just The Beginning Foundation (JTBF), which helped design and direct the ILLI program in its early years. The ISBA launched ILLI as a pilot program in June 2011 with a three-week commuter program at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. The program expanded to SIU as an overnight residential program in 2012, giving downstate students the opportunity to experience living and learning on a college campus. By assigning students "homework" in the dorms and taking advantage of SIU's "Team Building" course and other campus amenities, the residential program also helps students develop effective study habits, build their social skills, gain leadership skills, and promote a strong sense of confidence in their own ability to thrive in a university setting.

Diversity Pipeline programs like ILLI provide a truly life-changing experience for students who may not otherwise be exposed to these opportunities. The program helps them envision a rewarding legal career and traverse the educational pipeline into that career – or a host of other careers – through which they can enrich their own lives, communities and the lives of others.

For photographs and more complete descriptions of the activities that took place during last year's program, take a look at the Yearbook posted.

2013 Yearbook (3 MB)

2012 Yearbook (4 MB)

Photo Galleries

Law and Leadership Institute posts on Illinois Lawyer Now

How Can You Help?

ILLI is offered free of charge to students from targeted underrepresented populations. While some of the programming will be offered through ISBA and SIU School of Law volunteers, the program needs your help to defray the costs of housing, food, and transportation for the students. Please consider joining our partnership at one of the sponsorship levels below:

Supreme Court -- $5000 (sponsor five students)
Appellate Court -- $3000 (sponsor three students)
Circuit Court -- $1000 (sponsor one student)
Amicus Curiae -- $500 (sponsor a meal or event)
Advocates -- Any amount (Contributions will be put towards other costs associated with running the program.)

All sponsors will receive recognition in the ILLI yearbook.

Donations can be made payable to the Illinois Bar Foundation, and earmarked for the Illinois Law & Leadership Fund. The Illinois Bar Foundation is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization.

Donations should be mailed to:

Illinois Law & Leadership Institute
c/o Illinois Bar Foundation
20 S. Clark St., Suite 910
Chicago, IL 60603

If you have questions about your donation, please contact Melissa Burkholder at (800) 678-4009 or mburkholder@isba.org. If you have questions about the Illinois Law & Leadership Institute, please contact the SIU School of Law at lawcamp@law.siu.edu or (618) 536-7711.

Thank you for your generosity.