Letter to First Year Students
Dear First Year Student:
Chicago-Kent is an exciting place to learn about the law. I want to tell you why I think so.
Chicago-Kent has a long tradition of tying the theoretical to the practical, of linking the scholarship and teaching of its faculty to the readiness of its students to practice law. We take our identity as a professional school seriously. We have one of the most creative faculties in the country in terms of theoretical scholarship, and we also have one of the strongest legal writing programs in the country. We work hard to synthesize challenging intellectual inquiry in the classroom with sound basic doctrine. We were never content with the traditional clinical program but sought and succeeded in implementing our innovative law offices program giving law students the opportunity to engage mainstream, real-world practice problems while they are still in school. In fact, the American Bar Association gave Chicago-Kent a national award for its Professionalism Day.
These traditions provide the foundation for many initiatives that will be active in the coming year. Our Institute for Law, Science and Technology, directed by Professor Lori Andrews, is a joint venture among Chicago-Kent and other units of IIT. The Institute facilitates real-world use of theories originating in the laboratory and the law school seminar. It concerns itself with the intersections of law, science and technology, exploring the social, ethical and legal implications of, for example: cloning, electronic commerce, electricity deregulation, and telemedicine.
Scores of our students participate in our nationally known environmental program, our Institute for Law and the Workplace, and our trial practice program, taught by real judges in real courtrooms. We are developing new opportunities all the time. Now, Professors Gerber, Nahmod, Harding, and Heyman are working on ideas for a law-and-humanism initiative, and more focused comparative inquiry into common-law legal systems.
Another initiative involves globalization. It ties together faculty members, policy makers, business executives, labor leaders and public interest advocates in exploring new roles for international law and international institutions in expanding trade, managing inter-ethnic conflict, and promoting human rights and environmental protection. Dozens of our students are involved in Bosnia, Kosovo, Poland and China, building rule of law institutions, and making effective use of Internet technology as they do so.
We also are extending Chicago-Kent's historical excellence in understanding the relationship between law and computers. We deal with the challenges to traditional legal doctrine and institutions represented by the Internet and other computer technologies, ranging from digital signatures, to criminal liability halfway around the world for something someone puts on his Web page in Illinois. The American Bar Association selected Chicago-Kent to lead its Internet Jurisdiction Project, under the leadership of Professor Margaret Stewart.
All of these initiatives involve law students. I welcome your energy and your involvement.
You are entering a professionalization processómore than simply attending school. In the classroom, in your preparation for class, in your study groups, and in your contact with our outstanding faculty in and out of class, you should be intellectually curious, recognizing that the problems that will confront you in three or four decades of practice in the 21st century will involve new legal issues, new legal theories, and new legal institutions, not simply the ones the interested scholars, advocates, and designers of legal institutions in the 19th and 20th centuries. Take advantage of the cutting edge thinking that our faculty brings to Chicago-Kent into the profession.
Being a good lawyer is more than thoughtful analysis and mastery of theory; it also involves entrepreneurship, and effective interpersonal relations with fellow lawyers, clients, and decision-makers such as judges and legislators. Take advantage of Chicago-Kentís professional environment in order to improve your skills at empathy, persuasiveness, and professional civility.
Professionalism involves effectiveness in the
real-world. As lawyers, you will be agents of change, whether you
seek to win a case in court, design the capital structure of a new corporate
entity, build a new international legal institution, or help a client cope
with a personal
Being a good lawyer is about more than making money; it is about client and public service. It is, in a sense, about altruism. Practice altruism while you are practicing the other traits that will make you an effective lawyer.
I look forward to working with you to continue to make Chicago-Kent a stimulating experience and to make sure all of us are well positioned to participate in an evolving legal system that serves the needs of society and raises its aspirations.
Week of May 3, 1999