Students connect with Illinois judges through IADR's Shadow-a-Judge

As part of the College of Law’s Institute for Advocacy & Dispute Resolution, students shadowed judges at several events during fall 2013.

From back left: Ewa Wieslaw, 1L; Precious Allen, 1L; Miriam Martinez, 3L; Mike McGivney, 1L; Judge Kathleen Marie Burke; Lana Smith, 1L; Haley Guion, 2L; attorney and court administrator Colleen Glass and IADR Assistant Director Natalie Wolfe.
The Shadow-a-Judge series included a tour of the Child Detention Center at the Juvenile Justice Courthouse, a visit to the Fifth Municipal Court in Bridgeview and a chance to witness Chicago criminal defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. defend in a jury trial at the Second Municipal District Courthouse in Skokie.

Students enjoyed the opportunity to network, interact with judges and witness the crucial operations of the courtroom. “It was great to see so many different types of cases and then be able to talk to the judges themselves about what they thought,” said first-year student Ewa Wieslaw. 

“I particularly liked the fact that people greeted us with open arms and that the judges took time out of their busy schedule to meet with us," said 3L Miriam Martinez, who attended the Fifth Municipal event in Bridgeview on October 18.

First-year student Alex Antonacci used the opportunity to take a closer look at the daily operations of criminal defense practice, “It was a perfect way to see what a typical day would look like, not only for the judges, but also for APDs or ASAs."

Aside from the chance to interact with the judges, students found the immersion valuable for bringing law school courses to life. "I enjoyed getting to sit in on a live jury trial," said 2L Francie Ekwerekwu. "The defense lawyer [Sam Adam Jr.] was a great, savvy lawyer and very fun to watch. Everything we learn in law school criminal law classes makes more sense now after watching that jury trial.”

"It was interesting to see how one of the cases I sat in on hinged on a vital piece of discovery that was overlooked by the defense," said first-year student Kaitlin Fitzsimons. "My Civil Procedures Professor, Professor [Steven] Greenberger, said we wouldn’t fully understand discovery until we were in the courtroom, and now I see why."

Shadow-a-Judge events take place every spring and fall semester. Please contact Natalie Wolfe at or (312) 362-8312 if you are interested in participating in the fall 2014 program.