Recently, the Illinois State Bar Association requested an amendment at the Illinois Supreme Court level, asking that the court's rules be altered to allow law students more hands-on training, potentially making them more equipped for the nature of working in law.
ISBA hopes students will gain expertise which will make them practice-ready upon their completion of their programs. A committee has been created by ISBA President Umberto S. Davi, with the goal that students be ready to go into practice following their graduation.
McHenry County Judge Michael Chmiel explained the benefits and changes such an amendment would bring to the current system, which allows law students to work for organizations not in private legal practice.
Chmiel said he feels the proposed changes would be helpful for students and the legal profession in Illinois.
"Primarily, it's going to give law students the ability to be practice-ready upon graduation ," Chmiel said. "With this opportunity, the student can go into, essentially, private practice and, while not a lawyer, can work as if he or she were a lawyer."
The proposed change could give students a more well-rounded education, serving as an internship of sorts. Chmiel thinks that this will be felt by the students and the communities in which they will be working, since it reflects the education process of other professions which provide internship opportunities for their students before graduation.
"One of the neat things about our proposal - this is through the Illinois State Bar Association - we are suggesting that there be a level of supervision provided, so that, in essence, the student hopefully will be practice-ready, having been through an experience under Rule 711," said Chmiel.
In the end, by providing this opportunity for students to actually be exposed to the area that they hope to work in, the association aims to provide an ideal venue for those individuals to gain expertise. Chmiel said that this amendment would likely only appeal to students who are interested in entering the private sector and working in private practices. Thus, by the natural weeding out of students who are disinterested in this sector, those who are truly invested in it would hopefully receive better support under Rule 711.
"I don't know if it changes the way that lawyers have traditionally advanced," said Chmiel. "What's in hand today is simply a request that the rule be expanded to allow for students to engage private practice under Rule 711."