Professional Development Program | School of Law | SIU

Southern Illinois University



Professional Development Program | School of Law | SIU

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.

In the first-year Professionalism and the Law course, students learn about the legal profession and their responsibilities. They read, listen to speakers, reflect orally and in writing on observations and other experiences, and observe professionals in action, among other activities. Through these experiences, students gain a better appreciation for the values of the profession. 

Professional Development has been an important part of our first-year program since the 2000-2001 academic year. It has 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. 

Interdisciplinary Ethics Day

Interdisciplinary Ethics Day at SIU School of Law brings together over 250 first year students from multiple graduate programs Southern Illinois University for a half-day program on ethics and professional conduct with clients. Students from law, medicine, and social work meet in small interdisciplinary groups to discuss a cutting edge and complex hypothetical case involving aspects of quality of care, patient autonomy, legal rights, and professional licensure ethics. Students then join together in a large group and hear how a panel of experts from each of their respective fields would have addressed the same hypothetical. This unique program demonstrates how various professions must work together to improve the outcomes of their clients, while offering an opportunity for students to learn from each other.

Oath Drafting Workshop

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 with members of the bench and bar, students 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. 

Induction Ceremony

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. Read the Class of 2016's Declaration.