Fall 2021

C-K Law Group Newsletter, November 2021 

From the Director’s Chair

Jonathan Decatorsmith

What a messed-up time to be a lawyer! Over the last 18 months, those of us in the C-K Law Group, the clinical education arm of Chicago-Kent, have all had to reinvent our practices to adapt to the quasi-remote nature of delivering legal services, as well as, in many cases, the distance teaching of our students.  But with these challenges, of course, come unique opportunities for improving our legal skills, innovating our business strategies, and reflecting on what it means to be a high quality attorney.

With this in mind, I want to share some news with you:  This month, Clinical Professor Richard Kling celebrates his 40th year as a full-time faculty member here at Chicago-Kent. While every one of our clinicians does extraordinary work with their students on behalf of their clients every day, no one encapsulates the spirit of the C-K Law Group more than Richard Kling.  As any “Klingon” criminal defense clinic junkie already well knows, Kling immerses himself in larger-than-life real “Law and Order” dramas while maintaining compassion, humor, and the highest level of ethical and aggressive representation.  He is a mentor to both his students and other clinicians and represents the very best of our profession.  I am honored and humbled to work alongside him.  Please join me in congratulating Professor Kling on this milestone, and the start of his next 40-year term!


                                                                                                                                                              Director of Clinical Education

New Head of Chicago-Kent’s In-House Law Firm Looking to Expand its Clinics

After running Chicago-Kent’s tax clinic for decades, Clinical Professor Jonathan Decatorsmith became the school’s clinical education director in September 2021. Decatorsmith had run the tax practice of the C-K Law Group since he was hired by founder Gary Laser in 2000.  Read more… 

Criminal Law Clinic Students Assist With Recent Jury TrialRichard Kling

Chicago-Kent Clinical Professor Richard Kling, who supervises the Criminal Law Clinic, started a jury trial at the end of October with students participating in all aspects of the trial. They picked a jury in federal court in Hammond, Indiana, and the trial lasted one week. The case involved allegations by the government that investors were defrauded of over $4 million they gave to the two defendants to invest in insurance and stock options on their behalf. The offered defense was that the former co-defendant (not the law clinic client), who already pleaded guilty, was responsible for any losses the investors suffered. The jury determined the defendant represented by the Criminal Law Clinic to be guilty; he will be sentenced in February. He is facing a significant number of years in the federal penitentiary. 

Student Spotlight: Zach Sitkiewicz

Third-year Chicago-Kent student Zach Sitkiewicz  aspires to be a public defender after graduation. He provided some insights on how he prepped for the trial in Hammond with Professor Kling: 

“In preparing for the trial, I was mainly responsible for assembling our exhibits and keeping track of them. Additionally, I had to ensure we had enough copies ready for trial, and during the trial, I had to have everything organized so that we could access it quickly. Preparing for a trial requires that you formulate a solid theory of the case, and that you prepare to rebut the points that opposing counsel is going to make. This experience has taught me quite a bit about how to work with clients and how the evidence rules apply in a real courtroom setting.” 

“Richard Kling is a fantastic supervising attorney. He is very patient and easy to work with. Even if you’re new to the legal field, he’ll have things for you to do so that you can start building your skill set,” Sitkiewicz says. “There’s real opportunity in the criminal defense clinic.“

Mediation Clinic Receives High Ratings in preLaw Magazine

preLaw Magazine listed Chicago-Kent among the top schools for ADR Programs in 2021 and 2020.

Under the direction of Clinical Professor Pamela Kentra, students in the Mediation/ADR Clinic continue to mediate all types of legal disputes during virtual court calls and are becoming experts at navigating the challenges of online mediation.

Externship Program

The Access2Practice Legal Externship Program provides countless placement opportunities in all kinds of legal settings and areas. Here’s what some recent Chicago-Kent externs are saying about the program:

Charlie Blood did not one, but two semesters as a legal extern, most recently at a large law firm in Chicago.Charlie Blood

“I applied to get more practical work experience and see what working at a big firm would be like. With COVID, everything has been very unique, but my expectations were definitely exceeded. I was still able to come into the office every day, and, although many attorneys were working from home, I got to know the senior partners, associates, and practice leaders really well. My supervisor helped me network and made it fun. This allowed me the opportunity to work for them and create relationships very easily.

The legal profession is intimidating and I’m sure everyone wonders how difficult and complex the work really is. It was nice to see firsthand what attorneys do every day and what their work product looks like. It helped build confidence that I can do what they do one day and be successful as an attorney.”

Marisa McGrenera

Marisa McGrenera wants to pursue a career in health law, so she did two semesters of the Legal Externship Program with the legal department at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

“I applied because I wanted to gain more experience in health law and because of the stellar reputation of Lurie Children’s. This internship blew my expectations out of the water with the substantive legal work and wonderful attorneys. I learned a lot about working as in-house counsel, balancing multiple projects, and the practical application of the law.

One of my favorite experiences was joining in on strategic planning meetings that the attorneys attend with hospital leadership, risk management, ethics counsel, and outside counsel to adapt their policies and practices to be in compliance with new rules.”

Katherine Hanson was a legal extern at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.Katharine Hanson

“My experience [at the EEOC] exceeded expectations! The attorneys were brilliant and engaging. I felt like the work was stimulating and challenging enough without making me feel like I was out of my depth. Even in a remote setting, I would sometimes sit online in video chat with my attorney teammates while we researched, to just talk to each other while we were each digging through cases.

If you are interested at all in employment law, you should go for this externship. The EEOC offers numerous opportunities for observation, research, and legal drafting. I even found my law review note topic while researching. The people are brilliant, friendly, and kind. They have interesting experiences to share, and they are very dedicated to their mission. Surprisingly, this experience helped me to learn that I like discovery and litigation. Also, it gave me a new appreciation for mediation, and made me realize my options were even more numerous than I previously imagined.”

If you are interested in an exciting program and in developing your lawyering skills, please review the information and application materials available online and/or contact Professor Vivien Gross.

Judicial Extern Spotlight: Matthew Estenssoro

Matthew Estenssoro

The Judicial Externship Program has been described by many students as their favorite law school experience. Matthew Estenssoro, who externed in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois in summer 2021 with Judge Matthew Kennelly, had the opportunity to advise the judge on cases, draft decisions, and observe all manner of court proceedings.

“Beyond just having a better understanding of the work that goes on within a courthouse, actually seeing the real world consequences that lawyers have on people’s lives is profound,” Estenssoro says.

The experience  provided him with further insight into what he would like to do after law school and gave him “a newfound respect for the profession.”

“I was fortunate to be able to work on an environmental case and learn firsthand that not only am I interested in environmental law, but that it could be something I find to be a rewarding career,” Estenssoro says.

Although applications for the Spring 2022 Judicial Externship Program are now closed, other non-participating judges post openings for externs in Symplicity. Applications for the summer and fall 2022 program  will be available in early spring.

C-K Law Group Clinics

C-K Law Group introduces students to the experience of working on sophisticated litigation and transactional matters while exposing students to real-world experience. These are our clinical practice areas:

  • Criminal Defense Litigation
  • Civil Litigation Clinic
  • Plaintiffs Employment Clinic
  • Environmental Law Clinic
  • Family Law
  • Federal Health Litigation Clinic
  • Immigration Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Tax Law
  • Special Program:  Intensive Clinic

Students interested in Spring 2022 clinics can click here for an applicationThe deadline to apply is November 18 at 2 p.m. CST.