Southern Illinois University School of Law

Southern Illinois University Carbondale


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Professional Development Program

The Professional Development Program introduces first-year students to the legal profession and its core values. Future lawyers and those who plan to use their legal education in other fields must develop the traits of professionals. From day one, SIU School of Law helps prepare students to become those professionals. Through a series of workshops and other activities, students learn about the legal profession and their responsibilities. Read more about Professional Development. Our Professional Development Workshops have been an important part of our first-year program since the 2000-2001 academic year. They have received both national recognition (the American Bar Association's E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award in 2003-2004) and statewide recognition (the Illinois Supreme Court's Commission on Professionalism replicated our Induction Ceremony at other Illinois law schools). Although this program preceded the Carnegie report, it fulfills the report’s call for greater professionalism education coming from the profession, the courts and the academy. Students participate in a program structured to introduce them to the legal profession. They read, listen to speakers, reflect orally and in writing on observations and other experiences, take quizzes, and observe professionals in action, among other activities. Through these experiences, students gain a better appreciation for the values of the profession. Examples of these activities include:

Professional Responsibility Day brings together medical and law students at the beginning of their study to discuss ethical issues they share such as confidentiality when there is the risk of harm to another, and client/patient autonomy when the client or patient choose a course not in their best interest. Students discuss the issues in small groups of medical and law students. They come to appreciate the complexities of their professions, something they share.

After a brief orientation to the core values of the legal profession, first year law students participate in an oath-drafting workshop. Working in small groups, students at the beginning of their career reflect on their obligations to their future clients, to their profession, to society and to themselves and prepare a Declaration of Professional Commitment. They are guided by this Declaration throughout their years at the law school. The Declaration is displayed next to their class photo composite until they graduate.

The Induction Ceremony is the occasion when first year law students are inducted as lawyers-in-training. An Illinois Supreme Court justice presides over this annual event, held during homecoming weekend so that family and friends may attend as well. The first year law students recite the Declaration of Professional Commitment they drafted earlier. They receive a copy of the Declaration and a lapel pin as a reminder of their commitment.