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Details | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

Access to Justice Commission holds second Law Student Leadership Summit


By: Kathryn Hensley, Supervising Senior Program Manager, Access to Justice Division

The Law Student Leaders Access to Justice Summit aims to cultivate an awareness of issues prohibiting low-income Illinois residents from accessing civil legal services and foster a lifelong a commitment to ending this disparity through pro bono work. The Summit first launched in 2019 with the plan to host it every two years; however, the event was cancelled in 2021 due to the pandemic.

This year, Kirkland & Ellis LLP hosted the Summit, and the Commission welcomed 71 law student leaders and faculty members from our nine Illinois law schools, as well as Illinois JusticeCorps Fellows.

The Summit began with an inspiring welcome from Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis.

Panelists from organizations across the state then spoke about Access to Justice in Court Systems Across the Nation, The Role of Innovation and Technology, and How to Make an Impact as a New Attorney: and Mentorship and Pro Bono. Participants also heard from Justice Elizabeth Rochford who provided the keynote address during a networking lunch. The luncheon involved numerous judges and lawyers who were assigned to small groups with students to discuss the importance of pro bono and mentorship.

After lunch, the attendees participated in a simulation about navigating the court and social service systems as a self-represented litigant.

One student’s takeaway was “[w]hen thinking about increasing access to justice, there isn’t one right answer. Rather there are big and small actions that can be taken to making the legal system more accessible to those who have the most day-to-day interactions with the legal system.”

Find more information about the agenda, attendees, accolades, and resources at