llinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke spoke to John Marshall law students on February 16 about the importance of professionalism at the kickoff event of the Office of Professionalism & Career Strategy’s Justice Anne M. Burke Professionalism Series. This year marks the eighth consecutive year that John Marshall has collaborated with the Illinois Supreme Court’s Commission on Civility to present the professionalism series.
“Professionalism is defined as good judgment and polite behavior,” Burke told the students and guests of the law school, which included U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonso, John Marshall Board of Trustees President Paula Hudson Holderman, John Marshall Dean Darby Dickerson and Mark C. Palmer, Professionalism Counsel for the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. “Always be professional in your personal interactions, in your legal writing and, especially, in social media.”
Burke cautioned students to think about what they post on social media and who might see it. “Do your colleagues really need to know that you knit or tap dance or drink pina coladas or have a tattoo?” Burke’s message about the importance of professionalism also was intertwined with stories about the inner workings of the Illinois Supreme Court. Illinois is one of two states where its supreme court judges live together during certain periods of their term. Burke enthralled the audience with anecdotes about the unique historic suites in the state supreme court building in Springfield and their rules for civility which include talking business only in the court’s “impression room.”
But her tales also imparted an important message to students: Political, personal and professional differences can be overcome when you take the time to learn about other people’s lives. Burke noted that she and her fellow justices eat all their meals together when in Springfield which has helped them learn about each other as people. That learning has encouraged collegiality and helped them bridge any differences through civility.