By Judge Dominique C. Ross
Since its founding in 1982, the mission of the Illinois Judicial Council, in part, has been to encourage African-Americans to prepare for and pursue judicial careers in order to ensure continued diversity on the bench. In keeping with this commitment, the Illinois Judicial Scholarship Committee was created as one of four standing committees of the IJC. Recognizing that the need for encouragement and support begins long before a seat on the bench is achieved, the Illinois Judicial Council through the funding of the Illinois Judicial Council Foundation has awarded tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships to Illinois law students for over 30 years.
Students who have overcome obstacles and unforeseen challenges and students who have given of themselves through community service all while maintaining high academic standards in law school, have been among the many law students who have received scholarships from the IJC. A few of our scholarship recipients have been students who found themselves in the role of parent to younger siblings and are in need of assistance, students who found themselves in a new state or country with little or no family support, and many who are simply seeking any amount of relief they can from the astronomical amount of student loans they will soon find themselves repaying after they have completed law school. Through scholarships, many who may not have found a way to make it through, do find a way. Undoubtedly, every dollar counts.
What began as a small amount of financial assistance for the purchase of law books later grew into matching funds from the various Illinois law schools and the goal of establishing an endowment through the Illinois Judicial Council Foundation, whose membership is comprised of retired judges who remain committed to the purpose and the goals of the IJC Scholarship Committee. Additionally, our scholarship recipients have benefitted from the guidance and mentorship of many of the members of the Illinois Judicial Council as they journey into the world of the legal profession. As the cost of a law school education continues to grow exponentially, the need to continue awarding scholarships to more deserving law student’s also continues to grow. The Illinois Judicial Council, through its Scholarship Committee and the Illinois Judicial Council Foundation, remains committed to supporting and encouraging law students to achieve their respective goals within the legal community and ultimately fulfilling the mission of the Illinois Judicial Council.