Before our daily lives were turned upside down by COVID-19, we had seen plenty of updates in the College of Law building, from the basement, to the roof, to the revitalization and technology of the classrooms. As the College looks ahead to additional facility upgrades, plans are underway to recognize the life and service of Prentice Marshall with an Advocacy Suite named in his honor.
Prentice Marshall (1926 - 2004) graduated from the College of Law in 1951 and served as a law clerk for Judge Walter C. Lindley on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 1951 until 1953. From 1953 to 1967 he practiced at the firm now known as Jenner & Block and became partner in 1961. He then taught at the College of Law from 1967 to 1973 where he established the first Trial Advocacy Program. He also taught in the inaugural session of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy in 1972. He was nominated to a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and served until his retirement in 1996. During his career as a student, litigator, professor and judge, Marshall interacted with hundreds, if not thousands, of Illinois Law graduates.
The Prentice H. Marshall Advocacy Suite will be a multipurpose learning environment, easily adapted for use as a courtroom, a traditional classroom, and for a variety of practice-based exercises. The redesigned space in the Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Library is an ideal setting for simulation courses, legal research and writing, and other technology-focused offerings. The space will be designed to host trials, oral arguments and other experiential learning exercises including client counseling, witness preparation, depositions, negotiation, mediation, and dispute resolution.
The Advocacy Suite will be equipped with the latest in courtroom technology and legal practice software. Learning to use such technology effectively is an essential skill College of Law students need to stand out in today’s competitive job market. This technological training also will provide them a solid base on which they can build as the practice of law changes and equipment interfaces evolve.
Benefits of the Advocacy Suite
The College of Law has had a distinguished tradition of advocacy teaching, dating back to Prentice Marshall’s development of the Trial Advocacy Program in 1967. Repurposing a portion of the Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Library will support the College of Law’s continued mission of providing quality training to its students. Specifically, the Advocacy Suite with its additional space and state-of-the-art technology will:
- Expand opportunities for experiential learning at the College of Law: Learning through practical application is at the forefront of legal education. Curriculum offerings that integrate doctrine, theory, skills, and ethics make graduates uniquely qualified for the practice of law – both litigation-focused and transactional careers. Expanded opportunities for practice-based learning will enhance the College of Law’s capabilities to meet recent requirements for experiential training mandated by the ABA and state bar associations. Additionally, the College of Law sponsors fourteen teams who compete in moot court, negotiation, client counseling, and trial competitions nationwide. The Advocacy Suite will provide an ideal setting for competition preparation as the teams build on the College’s current record of success.
- Boost the College of Law’s reputation among prospective students: Historically, top tier law schools saw experiential offerings as a tactic used by lower-ranked schools to attract students. That is no longer the case. In current U.S. News rankings, peer and aspirational institutions including UC Berkeley, Georgetown, Northwestern, Penn, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Washington University are listed as top-20 law schools overall and are also top-20 law schools for advocacy. Investments in infrastructure supporting hands-on learning opportunities are one important method employed by law schools to attract a strong applicant pool. Today’s prospective students are focused on meaningful job opportunities upon graduation. Recent ABA surveys reveal that job prospects are increased for students who choose experiential courses to augment the traditional doctrinal courses provided in law school.
- Enhance preparation of College of Law graduates for law practice: The legal community is looking to hire “practice ready” graduates. For years, many law firms and other legal employers have addressed the readiness gap by funding expensive, comprehensive, multi-year training programs to transform their law school hires into practice ready lawyers. Additionally, it is more and more common for law firm clients to refuse to pay billable time for insufficiently prepared first- and second-year associates staffed on matters. These clients resent having to pay for on-the-job training for skills they believe should be mastered in the law school setting. The Advocacy Suite will provide an enriching setting for students to develop fundamental litigation skills – not only the traditional trials and oral arguments, but also a variety of experiential learning exercises including client counseling, witness preparation, depositions, negotiation, mediation, and dispute resolution.
Support, Leadership & Timeline
Thank you for your consideration of support to this project. The total budget is estimated at $200,000 and more than half has been raised thus far through early contributions. All leadership donors of $10,000 or more will be recognized on a plaque in the suite. Online gifts and pledges may be made HERE by selecting College of Law Building Renovation Fund and adding Prentice Marshall Suite in the “Additional Instructions” section. If you would like to make a gift by check or securities, please contact Bill Turner for the best mailing address as some campus offices are not yet open or are partially-staffed during the quarantine. Construction will take place this summer and fall as allowed by COVID-19 protocols, and a dedication of the space will be planned once the campus is able to safely resume large social gatherings.
For additional information on the College of Law’s Trial Advocacy Program and experiential learning opportunities, please contact Professor Catherine Stahl at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-300-5809. For all other enquiries, please contact Assistant Dean for Advancement, Bill Turner at email@example.com or 217-300-5749.