Once again, this publication comes to you through the work of the Standing Committee on Law Related Education for the Public of the Illinois State Bar Association (“LRE”). LRE has continued in its endeavors to encourage and enhance opportunities for civics education throughout the State of Illinois, through volunteer attorneys and judges who stand ready, willing, and able to speak to students, through publications, and through the High School Mock Trial Invitational of the ISBA. Gratitude is again stated for all who have participated! More can always be done, but things continue to bode well for the future of the State through the interest and effort of those who focus on civics.
As we approach the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year of the ISBA, gratitude is specifically stated for Attorney Richard Felice of Wheaton, who as the President of the ISBA, elevated civics education for the ISBA as one of his initiatives. Through his guidance and hard work, along with that of Justice Michael Hyman of Chicago, the ISBA was able to join forces with the Illinois Judges Association to form the joint Bringing the Courtroom to the Classroom (“BCC”) Committee. Attorney Felice engages in the private practice of law, but also volunteers countless hours to develop such programs. Similarly, Justice Hyman, who sits on the Appellate Court of Illinois for the First District, serves as the President of the IJA and also volunteers countless hours.
The BCC Program was developed by the IJA over the last few years, to provide an interactive discussion with Illinois students about the court system in Illinois and the handling of a hypothetical case. In Chicago this past October, for the first time, attorneys were trained to join judges who were previously trained to facilitate the discussion at schools through a substantive PowerPoint presentation. Now, about 200 judges and attorneys are available to make the presentation at schools through throughout Illinois. Educators are encouraged to contact the BCC Program by emailing Kathy Hosty at email@example.com or Kim Furr at firstname.lastname@example.org. Upon request, the BCC Committee will coordinate a judge and an attorney to make the presentation free of any charge.
LRE has also continued to offer its Lawyers in Classrooms Program through which more than 160 attorneys and judges located throughout Illinois, make themselves available to talk on a dozen different topics free of charge. The lists of volunteer presenters and topics is available through isba.org/teachers.
In March, LRE coordinated the 33rd Annual High School Mock Trial Invitational. More than 400 students participated as lawyers and witnesses in a hypothetical case (which was based on a real-life story). Then, in April, the Board of Governors of the ISBA voted to continue with the Invitational into the foreseeable future. Planning has already begun for the 34th! (Thanks to Attorney Sarah Taylor of Carbondale for again chairing the Mock Trial Subcommittee for LRE, the Mock Trial Subcommittee (Judge Pablo Eves, Stephen Iden, Rocky Martinez, Kateah McMasters, Stan Wasser, and Zee Williams), Third Year Law Student Alexsandra Ostojic of the University of Illinois who served as Administrator for the Invitational, and the University of Illinois Mock Trial Team.
Throughout the year, LRE also worked to produce four newsletters and update its Web site. These items are used throughout the State by attorneys and educators alike. Thanks go to Retired Administrative Law Judge Ed Schoenbaum of Springfield for stepping in to get our newsletters out, and to LRE’s Vice (and Incoming) Chair Rocky Martinez for working to improve LRE’s presence on the web.
As we look to the upcoming year, things look great with many opportunities for success. For starters, LRE plans to continue to provide and improve each of its offerings. LRE also plans to expand its civic education offerings into the grown-up world with a new program which is tentatively being called Bringing the Courtroom to the Boardroom. LRE looks forward to working with incoming ISBA President Umberto Davi of Western Springs and his administration on this anticipated venture into the world of adult education.
As the second year of my one-year term comes to a close, let me again thank all who have volunteered time to talk to a student or a class, to write an article, to judge or evaluate a mock trial, or to focus some level of attention on civics. (As a friend from Crystal Lake would say, if we all do a little, some won’t have to do a lot!) Further, let me extend special thanks to ISBA Executive Director Bob Craghead, ISBA General Counsel Charlie Northrup, and LRE Staff Liaison Kim Furr. Each does a great job keeping us between the ditches of an often bumpy road. Through their efforts, we have been able to focus on civics and with great hopes and expectations for the future.
Educators are well-advised to explore and utilize various free resources which are available through the websites of the ISBA (www.isba.org), the Supreme Court of Illinois (www.state.il.us/court), and the Illinois Judges Association (www.ija.org).
We are all working to make our State a better place through education. To such end, we welcome questions, comments, suggestions, and invitations to make presentations. Otherwise, thanks and best wishes for a great Summer! ■