Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court temporarily amended Rule 711(g) to expand the supervised practice of new law school graduates to private law firms and other for-profit entities. This temporary amendment is in response to challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already forced the Court to postpone the July bar exam to September.

The Court will assess the impact of the new Rule on access to justice, bar exam success, and the value of the post-graduate experience for graduates and supervising attorneys, to inform further changes to Rule 711.

“The Court understands the plight of recent law graduates and we want to provide an effective transition to them becoming practicing lawyers in these unprecedented times,” Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne M. Burke said in a press release. “We appreciate the assistance provided by law school deans and the Illinois State Bar Association in amending this rule to offer a measure of relief while also expanding access to justice and safeguarding the public.”

How to Qualify

Rule 711 already allows new law school graduates to perform work for legal aid bureaus and government agencies. However, the amendment allows new graduates working at law firms to appear in court and take and defend depositions, expanding the opportunities available to them.

To qualify for the amendment, graduates must have completed law school in December 2019 or anytime in 2020. They must have attended a law school accredited by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and the Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association.

The opportunity is also open to graduates of ABA-accredited law schools prior to December 2019 who have been serving as judicial law clerks since their graduation and have not taken the bar exam. To be eligible, all applicants must have applied to take the September 2020 or February 2021 Illinois bar exam.

Graduates entering into a private for-profit setting must be supervised by an attorney with at least five years of practice experience and without pending disciplinary issues, among other requirements.

How to Apply

After receiving a job offer from an eligible organization, graduates and their supervisor must fill out the 711(g) form available on the Illinois Supreme Court’s website. The form also requires sign off from the dean of the applicant’s law school.

Within 60 days of beginning their new position, graduates must complete a basic skills course. Each 90 days after, while working under Rule 711(g), they must complete three additional hours of MCLE credit.

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