Rule 711 of the Rules on Admission and Discipline of Attorneys allows law students and law school graduates to obtain a temporary license to practice law in Illinois on behalf of approved organizations or programs.
Approved organizations include legal aid bureaus, legal assistance programs, organizations, or clinics chartered by Illinois or approved by an ABA approved law school. This also includes the Office of the Public Defender or a law office of Illinois or any of its subdivisions.
Law students must:
- Be enrolled in a law school approved by the ABA.
- Receive credit for work representing at least three-fifths of the total hourly credits required for graduation from the law school.
- Be a student in good academic standing and be eligible under the school’s criteria to perform as a student attorney.
Law school graduates cannot be licensed to practice law in any jurisdiction and must have:
- Graduated from a law school approved by the ABA.
- Not yet had an opportunity to take the bar exam or the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (“MPRE” );
- Taken the bar exam and the MPRE but not yet received notification of the results of either exam; or
- Taken and passed the bar exam and the MPRE but have not yet been sworn in as members of the Illinois Bar. The Administrative Director of the Illinois Courts may authorize the law school graduate to practice under the student practice rules, unless the law school Dean objects.
Law students and graduates have to practice under the supervision of a member of the Illinois Bar. The client must provide written consent to the practice, which will be filed in the case and brought to the attention of the judge or presiding officer.
Law students or graduates may:
- Counsel with clients, negotiate in the settlement of claims, and engage in the preparation and drafting of legal instruments.
- Appear in Illinois trial courts and administrative tribunals. Such appearances are subject to the following restrictions:
- Law students or graduates may make appearances and prepare pleadings, motions, and other documents to be filed with the court. Law students or graduates may sign the documents with the accompanying designation “Senior Law Student” or “Law Graduate” but the supervising attorney must sign the documents.
- Criminal Cases. When the penalty may be imprisonment, in proceedings challenging sentences of imprisonment, and in civil or criminal contempt proceedings, the law students or graduates may participate in pretrial, trial, and post-trial proceedings as an assistant of the supervising member of the Bar. The supervising attorney must be present and responsible for the conduct of the proceedings.
- In all other civil and criminal cases, law students or graduates may conduct all pretrial, trial, and post-trial proceedings. The supervising attorney does not need to be present.
- Law students or graduates may prepare briefs, excerpts from the record, abstracts, and other documents filed in courts of review of Illinois, which state the name of the student or graduate with the accompanying designation “Senior Law Student” or “Law Graduate.” The documents must be filed in the name of the supervising attorney.
- Cannot request or accept any compensation from the client. Approved programs may provide compensation to the law student or graduate.
The law school Dean is required to file with the Administrative Director a certificate stating the student complies with the eligibility requirements.
The certificate remains in effect for 18 months after it is filed or until the announcement of the results of the first bar exam following the student’s graduation, whichever is earlier. For students passing the bar exam, the certificate remains in effect until he or she is admitted to the Bar.
The law school Dean may withdraw the certificate at any time without prior notice, hearing, or showing of cause. The Illinois Supreme Court may terminate the certificate without prior notice, hearing, or showing of cause.