Spring 2017 C-K Law Group Newsletter


A few words from clinic director Richard Gonzalez


Professor Richard Gonzalez
Professor Richard Gonzalez

Welcome to the C-K Law Group's latest e-newsletter! I have a few new and exciting developments to mention...

At the start of the spring semester, Chicago-Kent's nationally known, in-house legal clinic rebranded itself as the C-K Law Group: The Law Offices of Chicago-Kent. More than 70 second- and third-year students are working on actual legal matters within the clinic this semester and—in one of Chicago-Kent's most highly rated options according to student evaluations—another 40 1Ls are participating in the 1L Your Way Clinical Rotation option, which involves an introduction to three of the clinic's practice areas for four weeks each during the first year.

Plus, for the first time, the popular Pretrial Litigation course will be open to any second- or third-year student beginning in fall 2017 (subject to a size cap). Many of our alumni have listed Pretrial Litigation as their favorite course while in law school and have reported its value in landing and keeping good jobs in the civil litigation field.

Another first: Students who can't decide between two of the law school's most popular certificate programs—the Labor and Employment J.D. certificate program and the Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution ("LADR") J.D. certificate program—can now opt for a joint certificate. While both LADR and the Labor & Employment program remain popular options in their own right, this new option combines the most essential requirements of each program into one easy-to-manage regimen of courses.

To qualify for the joint J.D. certificate program in Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution and Labor and Employment Law, students follow this curriculum:

Required Courses:
  • Labor Law (4 credits)
  • Employment Relationships (3 credits)
  • Evidence (3 credits)
  • Legal Writing IV for Labor & Employment Law (3 credits)
  • Seminar in a labor and employment law-related topic (2 credits)
  • Pretrial Litigation OR Employment Litigation (3 credits)—2 of Chicago-Kent's most highly rated courses
Plus two of the following options:
  • Employment Discrimination (3 credits)
  • Labor or Employment Law Externship (4 credits)
  • In-house Plaintiffs Employment Law Clinic within the C-K Law Group (3 or 4 credits)
  • Trial Advocacy I (3 credits)

So, think about experiencing one of the certificate programs or just participating in C-K Law Group to gain valuable practical experience and enhance your resume.


C-K Law Group announces the first Laser Prize winner

Catherine Larson '17 is the recipient of the inaugural Laser Prize.
Catherine Larson '17 is the recipient of the inaugural Laser Prize.

In order to recognize and reward a Chicago-Kent clinic student who personifies the qualities of professionalism and ethical behavior, the family of former clinic director Gary S. Laser has created the Laser Prize. C-K Law Group has just announced the first winner of this annual award—3L Catherine Larson.

Hailing from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Catherine graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in communication studies. She was a member of the Intellectual Property Moot Court team and will graduate in May 2017 with certificates in both intellectual property law and business law.

It was Catherine's outstanding work in Professor Heather Harper's Entrepreneurial Law Clinic that merited her receiving the first Laser Award. As Professor Harper reports, Catherine not only performed conscientious and outstanding work within the clinic and acted as a role model for other students, she exhibited the qualities that were most important to Professor Laser during his tenure as clinic director.

The C-K Law Group salutes Catherine for this outstanding achievement!


Channeling Dan Coyne

By C-K Law Group staff attorney Matt Daniels '07

Matt Daniels '07 was a student in Professor Coyne's Criminal Defense Litigation Clinic before becoming a staff attorney after graduation.
Matt Daniels '07 was a student in Professor Coyne's Criminal Defense Litigation Clinic before becoming a staff attorney after graduation.

Many students who enroll in clinic participate for a semester. But a healthy percentage of students will come back to the C-K Law Group for a second semester. Some will continue on even further, volunteering on cases or taking independent study credit in the clinic until graduation.

And then there are the few that don't ever seem to leave. I'm one of them. No, I'm not working off an incomplete grade. I'm employed by the C-K Law Group as a staff attorney.

My time in the clinic dates back to 2005, when I enrolled in Professor Dan Coyne's Criminal Defense Litigation Clinic as a 2L. From day one, Dan made it clear to us students that his clinic was an immersive, participatory experience, not a spectator activity. And immerse myself I did. For the next two years, I worked on a handful of matters, including several death penalty cases. Under Dan's guidance, I did extensive factual research, acted as the lead writer on several motions attacking the constitutionality of Illinois' death penalty system, and using my Rule 711 license, argued my work in court. And in the midst of all that, I found time to take Professor Pam Kentra's exceptional Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic, too.

Near the end of my 3L year, Dan asked me if I'd be interested in working for him as a staff attorney after I graduated. His practice was growing quickly, and he needed the additional help. I said yes right away. I couldn't think of a better place to work. I welcomed the opportunity to continue building my skills under Dan's supervision. Plus, by this time, I knew most of the clinical faculty pretty well—six of them taught me in doctrinal or simulation courses—and everyone treated me like family.

Back in 2007, there weren't many staff attorneys in the Law Offices of Chicago-Kent. I recall there being just two others then, and I was the first that Dan hired. Today, the C-K Law Group has a total of 10 staff attorneys, and I'm one of three staff attorneys working for Dan. Like me, some of today's staff attorneys were hired fresh out of law school. Others come here after working elsewhere earlier in their careers. Most, but not all, of today's staff attorneys are Chicago-Kent alums who found a home here during their student days.

So what do staff attorneys do? The answer varies a bit since the clinical faculty members we work for have individual, stand-alone practices that have unique characteristics and needs. But in short, we staff attorneys are akin to associates in law firms or front-line attorneys in legal aid or government agency settings.

I like to think of my job as a staff attorney for Dan as having two primary responsibilities:

  1. Building Cases
    Dan's clinic maintains an active litigation practice, and I'm part of the team that represents the clinic's clients. Our practice currently encompasses over 75 matters, representing individuals accused of criminal misdemeanors and felonies, as well as convicted sex offenders facing involuntary civil commitment. About 10 percent of those matters are pro bono cases. We represent our clients in trial courts, appellate courts, and in executive clemency proceedings before the Prisoner Review Board. Since I came aboard in 2007, I've tried nearly 20 cases and litigated more than 20 appeals with Dan, clinic students and fellow staff attorneys.
  2. Building Lawyers
    I'm not a faculty member, but I work in a teaching law firm. That means a core component of my job is training students to become practicing attorneys. In the Coyne clinic, I carry out that role in multiple ways. In the classroom, I teach students the substantive and procedural legal principles we encounter in our caseload. In the office, I'm a project manager who guides students through the process of working up cases for trial or appeal. And in the arena that is actual litigation, I supervise our Rule 711 students in various activities, including their depositions of expert witnesses, their opening statements during jury trials, and their oral arguments to courts of review. All the while, I help students connect their clinical work to the concepts they've encountered in their doctrinal classes, as well as to their broader professional aspirations.

These twin responsibilities make my job as a staff attorney exceedingly rewarding. I get to do work that permits me to shape positive outcomes for both my clients and our next generation of attorneys. And during my time as a staff attorney in Dan's clinic, we've been fortunate to have success on both fronts.


Professor Vivien Gross describes C-K Law Group's externship options

Professor Vivien Gross directs Chicago-Kent's Judicial Externship Program and Legal Externship Program.
Professor Vivien Gross directs Chicago-Kent's Judicial Externship Program and Legal Externship Program.

By Professor Vivien Gross

Chicago-Kent offers an array of exciting externship options that provide students valuable real-life experiences with judges, firms and government agencies.


Judicial Externship Program

The Judicial Externship Program is a prestigious, 4-credit-hour, non-graded program open to students in their second and third years that enables them to work for federal appellate, district, magistrate or bankruptcy judges and state appellate and trial court judges. Judicial externs research law, write memoranda, assist in drafting opinions, observe the day-to-day routine of the courtroom, and work under the direct supervision of the judge and/or the judge's law clerk.

Legal Externship Program

The Legal Externship Program is a 4-credit-hour, non-graded program that gives students the opportunity to choose to extern with a supervising attorney in a private or public, civil or criminal practice in a wide variety of legal areas. Some public sector externships enable you to use your 711 license and appear in court.

Students interested in civil law may extern in a wide variety of places. For example, some have externed at the City of Chicago Corporation Counsel's Office, Office of the Illinois Attorney General, Illinois Commerce Commission, Immigration Court of the U.S. Department of Justice, Internal Revenue Service, and Environmental Protection Agency, as well as not-for-profit corporations such as Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center or public interest organizations such as Equip for Equality and Lawyers for the Creative Arts.

Students interested in criminal law may extern at the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Office of the Federal Defender, and at the offices of the state's attorney and public defender in Cook County as well as those in the surrounding counties.

Summer session legal externships also enable students to extern in a variety of specialized private sector firms and in-house corporate legal departments doing litigation and/or transactional work.

Semester Law Firm Associate Program

The Semester Law Firm Associate Program is a unique, for-credit, non-graded program offered in fall and spring semesters that is open to students in their second and third years who have a minimum 3.2 GPA. Semester Associate externs work for academic credit (without pay) as "associates" for designated prestigious firms.

Semester Associate externs receive 6 credits and devote 24 hours a week during the semester to the fieldwork component. Students gain experience and perspective from work on different aspects of litigation and transactions, and firms strive, to the extent possible, to expose students to a range of legal problems demanding varying skill sets or competencies.

This is a terrific opportunity to learn substantive law and about life in a law firm, as well as more about your own strengths, to develop as a professional, and to make an impression on the lawyers with whom you come into contact (even though there is no expectation of future employment).

How to Apply for an Externship

Information and application packets for legal and judicial externships are available in the Law Offices Reception Area (Room 600), in the Career Services Offices, and on the table by the third-floor elevators. The packets contain specific application procedures.

Information about the Semester Law Firm Associate Program is sent directly to students via email. The emails list the participating firms, their legal practice areas, and instructions on how to apply to the individual firms.

If you have questions about any of the externship programs, please contact Professor Gross at vgross@kentlaw.iit.edu.


Q&A with C-K Law Group office administrator Tracy Kish

Q: Tracy, you are the office manager of an 18-attorney, fee-generating law office—which makes C-K Law Group a large, mid-sized Chicago law firm. What are the main challenges of such a task?

A: The sheer volume of tasks and people that I communicate with on a daily basis. I think the most challenging thing is juggling some very disparate tasks. But I also enjoy that part of it.

Q: What do you like about working in a law school as opposed to a private law firm?

A: It is a little more relaxed, and I really do enjoy working with students.

Q: What are your favorite aspects of the job?

A: The variety of tasks that I tackle on a daily basis. Every day is different and unpredictable, which I like. Again, I enjoy working with students, and nothing is better for me than when a student leaves my office with a different perspective. I normally just act as a sounding board, but I'm happy to give them a space to talk freely about what is on their mind as they draw their own conclusions.

Q: What are your least?

A: Trying to run a business within a university. There are benefits, like the support of other departments, but there is a lot of paperwork!

Q: If you could give one important piece of advice to Chicago-Kent law students, what would it be?

A: Can I give three?

  1. Network and ask a lot of questions of those who are where you want to go.
  2. Take advantage of every learning opportunity that comes your way—and create your own opportunities, which leads me to...
  3. Take an in-house clinic. Maybe I am biased, but the experience students get here is far superior to many other opportunities. The worst that can happen is that you walk away with a greater knowledge of the law and will have something substantial to put on your resume. The best that can happen? If you come in, work with an attorney and do a great job, you will have, at the very least, a great reference. I love it when the light bulb goes off and a student discovers their passion for a specific area of law.

Q: In addition to devoting substantial time to managing your Fantasy Baseball team, what do you like to do for fun when you're not at work?

A: That's it—that's all I have—Fantasy Baseball. Well, okay, my family is pretty fun too! My idea of fun, now that I'm a parent, is much different than before. I highly recommend the new movie "Boss Baby."