November 2016 C-K Law Group Newsletter


Introducing the C-K Law Group: The Law Offices of Chicago-Kent

Law Offices concept image

Effective at the start of the spring semester, C-K Law Group: The Law Offices of Chicago-Kent is the new name for Chicago-Kent's unique in-house legal clinic. Known since the early 1980s as The Law Offices of Chicago-Kent, our clinic became a pioneer in clinical legal education decades ago when it adopted a fee-generating model designed to replicate the experience of employment at a private law firm. That model, coupled with Chicago-Kent's large and dynamic legal externship program, made the Chicago-Kent Law Offices a one-of-a-kind in-house legal clinic.

Today, the C-K Law Group is a giant among the nation's law school legal clinics. One of the nation's very largest, we boast 18 full-time, in-house practicing attorneys, four off-site adjunct attorneys, and—through Chicago-Kent's externship program—opportunities for our students to work with scores of practitioner-mentors, including judges, governmental agency attorneys, and private practitioners.

Our 18 in-house practicing attorneys, however, are not just any attorneys—they rank among the top practitioners nationally in the fields of criminal defense, employment law, civil litigation, tax law, domestic relations, vaccine injury, and entrepreneurship law and boast a record of success for our clients that rivals that of Chicago's premier law firms.

Our clinic takes the concept of learning-by-doing in a law school setting to an entirely new level. Consistent with the long-overdue trend within American law schools to provide students with a more practice-based legal education, the C-K Law Group introduces students to the experience of working on sophisticated litigation and transactional matters while exposing them to real-world experience within a superb "teaching law firm." This allows students to begin their experiential legal careers learning from highly experienced, competent and ethical practitioners, all the while enhancing their own resumes in preparation for their pursuit of post-graduation success. In addition, our robust externship program provides our students with a multitude of options, including externships with judges, government agencies and prestigious private law firms.

Spend some time reviewing the listing of our clinical offerings and the exciting possibilities available to you within the C-K Law Group: The Law Offices of Chicago-Kent. Because practice makes perfect!


Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic

Professor Pamela Kentra supervises Chicago-Kent's Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic.
Professor Pamela Kentra supervises Chicago-Kent's Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic.

Did you know that more than 95 percent of cases are settled before going to trial? Strong negotiation skills are an essential skill for every lawyer. The Mediation and ADR Clinic is a great way to learn how to settle cases and to gain a valuable certification in mediation skills.

Students in the clinic receive intensive mediation skills training from the highly regarded Center for Conflict Resolution, where they learn in an interactive setting how to master and apply mediation skills. Once students are certified as mediators, they begin mediating real cases at the Daley Center and various suburban courtrooms. These cases are referred directly from the judge's call that day and often include contract, tort and landlord-tenant disputes.

Students routinely interact with judges, attorneys and the parties involved in the litigation. This real-world experience allows students to have a direct impact on the cases and lives of real clients. Many students go on to use this experience in their legal practices, whether they are continuing to mediate cases or are representing clients in mediation or are negotiating strong settlements for their clients.

Students also have the opportunity to assist Professor Pamela Kentra with her arbitration practice by observing arbitration hearings or helping to draft arbitration opinions. Arbitrations are conducted at the Cook County Mandatory Arbitration Center, the Better Business Bureau and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

The Mediation and ADR Clinic has been training students and producing outstanding mediators for 21 years and has settled countless cases and helped thousands of people find a way out of conflict.


Meet Professor Laurie Leader

Professor Richard Gonzalez interviewed Professor Laurie Leader, who practices in the C-K Law Group's Civil Litigation Clinic, about why she chose to teach and why it's important for students to understand the perspectives of both employers and employees in employment disputes. 

Professor Laurie Leader

Q. You left a highly successful private practice in 1999 to become a clinical professor here at Chicago-Kent. What attracted you to a law school setting?

A. I needed a new challenge and always enjoyed mentoring new attorneys and law clerks, so teaching seemed to be a logical next step. I also wanted to be a role model for women interested in litigating and trying cases in non-traditional areas, like labor and employment and commercial law. There are still surprisingly few women "first-chairing" trials, particularly in federal court.

Q. You are one of a minority of employment lawyers who represent both employees and employers. Does that provide insights into the strengths and weaknesses of cases that other employment lawyers may lack?

A. Yes, but—most important—such "dual representation" allows me to be strategic. From a teaching perspective, representing both sides in an employment practice allows students to see the "big picture" (plaintiff's side work) and how to dissect it (defense work).

Q. What types of lawyering activities are available to students who take your section of clinic?

A. Students with a 711 license cover court calls. All of my clinic students draft pleadings and discovery and research and write briefs. We focus on writing from an advocacy perspective and on thinking strategically to achieve the best outcomes for clients based on their needs and interests. Depending on their interest, availability and scheduling, students also may assist with and attend depositions, argue contested matters, attend court hearings, interview clients and witnesses, and engage in other aspects of motion practice and trial preparation.

Q. In addition to your substantial practice and your teaching, you are a prolific writer in the employment field. You have written Wages and Hours: Law & Practice (Lexis/Matthew Bender) and serve as an executive editor for a leading peer-reviewed treatise, Employment Discrimination Law (Bloomberg BNA). How do you find the time to keep up with all of those demands?

A. I don't sleep much.

Q. Do you have any advice for law students who feel that they might want a career in employment law?

A. Employment law is a dynamic area that is never boring. Employment cases are intense and personal, since individuals often view their work (and, in the case of defendants, their decisions) as an integral part of their persona. The best outcomes are invariably achieved by understanding the needs, interests and motivations behind the dispute. Through the clinical experience, students gain insight into the players involved in a case and the story that underlies the formal legal dispute. This level of understanding is critical to effective representation in any employment setting.

Students interested in employment law as a career may have preconceived notions that they can represent only employers or employees. I try to dispel these notions in my clinic, since there are always two sides to every story. Students also need to remember that potential employment opportunities do not necessarily follow student preferences; they need to be open to possibilities.


Kendra Kutko '11

Kendra Kutko '11

My participation in the Plaintiff's Employment Law Clinic during my third year at Chicago-Kent laid the groundwork for my current career path as a civil rights employment attorney.

While participating in the clinic, I was afforded the opportunity to be involved in the day-to-day representation of clients typically accessible only to practitioners. I drafted pleadings, motions and memoranda; met with clients; and attended court. The clinic provided me with a crucial window of what the day-to-day work of a litigator is like, allowing me to contribute to the cases of actual clients—as opposed to being in a mock setting—under the supervision of seasoned lawyers and mentors.

My experience at the clinic gave me a foundation of skills and knowledge from which to draw as I graduated from Chicago-Kent and initiated my career as an employment attorney and litigator. The transition from law school to practice was made substantially easier because the clinic environment encouraged me to begin thinking about and approaching cases and representation strategically and pragmatically, with an informed view of client management and court processes and procedure.

What sets the clinic apart from a typical legal internship or externship is the collaborative and didactic environment in which the students put their lawyering skills to work. Clinic students often worked together on cases and received open and constructive feedback from each other and their supervising attorneys about how to best advance the interests of the clients and cases.

The learning-by-doing approach advanced at Chicago-Kent and its programs such as the clinic proved to be invaluable in preparing me for practice so that I could hit the ground running as an attorney.

I am an associate attorney at The Case Law Firm LLC, a civil rights employment law firm, where I represent and counsel clients in both the litigation and negotiation settings, handling cases in federal and state courts and in front of administrative agencies.


Dalia Labrador and Lydia Sharp receive 2016 Fleischman Family Awards for Excellence in Criminal Clinic

Lydia Ness received a Fleischman Award for her work under the supervision of Professor Coyne in Chicago-Kent's Criminal Defense Clinic.
Lydia Ness received a Fleischman Award for her work under the supervision of Professor Coyne in Chicago-Kent's Criminal Defense Clinic
Dalia Labrador received a Fleischman Award for her work under the supervision of Professor Kling in Chicago-Kent's Criminal Defense Clinic.
Dalia Labrador received a Fleischman Award for her work under the supervision of Professor Kling in Chicago-Kent's Criminal Defense Clinic.

This summer Dalia Labrador '17 and Lydia (Ness) Sharp '16 received Chicago-Kent's 2016 Fleischman Family Awards for Excellence in Criminal Clinic. The awards, which include a cash stipend, are made at the end of each academic year to Chicago-Kent students who have demonstrated dedication to the criminal defense litigation program and who have provided "zealous advocacy" on behalf of the program's clients. Recipients are selected by Chicago-Kent faculty who teach in the law school's Certificate Program in Criminal Litigation.

At Chicago-Kent, Dalia is a member of the law school's nationally ranked trial advocacy team. During the 2015–16 academic year, Dalia served as a legal intern in Chicago-Kent's Criminal Defense Clinic under the supervision of Professor Richard S. Kling. During her internship, she researched and prepared legal memoranda for various criminal matters, including bank robberies, unlawful possession of narcotics and tax evasion; researched state and federal case law regarding sexually violent predators; and drafted a motion for bill of particulars as well as motions to reconsider.

Lydia recently began an Equal Justice Works Fellowship at Equip for Equality, an advocacy group for people with disabilities, providing legal services and outreach to protect people with disabilities from sexual abuse and sex trafficking. During law school, Lydia completed a number of internships, including an internship with the Reparations Clinic in the Chicago-Kent Law Offices, and served as a legal fellow in the Chicago-Kent Criminal Defense Clinic, under the supervision of Professor Daniel T. Coyne. As a legal fellow, Lydia conducted two depositions in civil commitment cases, drafted memoranda of law regarding Franks motions, and drafted a motion for a Franks hearing with accompanying affidavits.

The Fleischman Family Awards for Excellence in Criminal Clinic were established by Chicago-Kent alumni and criminal defense attorneys Jack and Sidney Z. Fleischman in 2008 to recognize outstanding students in the criminal defense section of the Chicago-Kent Law Offices. In establishing the award, the Fleischmans also pay tribute to the contributions made to Chicago's legal community by their late grandfather, former Cook County Circuit Court judge Philip A. Fleischman, and their father, attorney Marshall A. Fleischman.

Jack and Sidney Fleischman are identical twins who participated in Chicago-Kent's criminal law clinic before they earned their law degrees in 1987. The Fleischman brothers currently are partners in their own criminal defense law firm, Fleischman & Fleischman PA, located in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, Florida.