The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) is the agency through which the Illinois Supreme Court regulates the practice of law in Illinois. The ARDC’s core functions include investigating allegations of wrongdoing by lawyers, holding hearings on specific charges, making recommendations to the Court for the imposition of disciplinary action against attorneys where warranted, and reimbursing losses caused by dishonest lawyers. The ARDC relies on lawyer and nonlawyer volunteers appointed by its seven-member Commission to carry out these core functions. Volunteers serve on the agency’s Hearing Board, Inquiry Board, Oversight Committee, and Client Protection Program Review Panel.
General requirements for applicants:
- All volunteers must either live or work in Illinois.
- Lawyer volunteers must be licensed to practice law in Illinois for at least five years.
- Nonlawyer volunteers should have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work-related experience.
If you are interested in being considered for service on an ARDC board, committee, or panel, please complete and submit your application together with your curriculum vitae or resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
|Applications must be submitted to the ARDC no later than December 15th. After that date, the applications will be evaluated, and selected candidates will be interviewed in December and January.||Applicants who are interviewed should be prepared to provide two or three references. Final selection and appointments are made by the Commission in February, and appointments become effective on March 1st.|
ARDC Boards, Committees and Panels
Time commitment: Generally requires attending one to three hearings per year that may last from one hour to one or more days. Also requires reviewing documents before and after the hearing.
The ARDC’s Hearing Board is composed of lawyers and nonlawyers appointed by the Commission in a ratio of two lawyers for each public member. The Hearing Board sits in panels of three – two lawyers and a public member – to hear disciplinary cases brought against attorneys by the ARDC’s Administrator and petitions for reinstatement filed by suspended and disbarred attorneys. One lawyer member serves as Panel Chair and is responsible for scheduling and conducting pre-hearing conferences, supervising discovery, ruling on pre-hearing motions, scheduling the hearing, and presiding over the hearing.
At hearings, which are open to the public, the parties present evidence and witness testimony and make arguments in favor of a specific outcome. After hearings, panel members deliberate in private, make findings of fact and decide on a recommendation for appropriate discipline or dismissal of charges. The ARDC employs lawyers to assist panels in preparing written reports of their findings and recommendations.
The length of hearings varies greatly, with some lasting for as little as 30 minutes and some taking several days. Members are advised in advance of the date(s) and expected time commitment associated with scheduled hearings and may decline hearing assignments if their schedules are prohibitive. Hearings have customarily been held at the ARDC’s Chicago or Springfield offices, although hearings may also be conducted remotely by videoconference. New Hearing Board members are required to attend a training session before their first hearing assignment.
Additionally, Hearing Board members will be invited to attend the ARDC’s annual Board Member Seminar and dinner.
Time commitment: Three to four hours per month on average. About half of this time will involve reviewing documents and the other half, attending meetings.
The ARDC’s Inquiry Board is composed of lawyers and public members appointed by the Commission in a ratio of two lawyers for each public member. The Board is organized into four panels, three based in Chicago and one in Springfield. Each panel consists of a lawyer Chair, a lawyer member, and a public member.
ARDC investigations are referred to an Inquiry panel when evidence indicates that a lawyer has engaged in serious misconduct warranting disciplinary action or other conduct warranting peer review and regulatory response. Investigations that produce evidence of unauthorized practice by a lawyer, nonlawyer, or entity may also be referred to an Inquiry panel. The panel’s job is to determine whether sufficient evidence exists for filing a formal disciplinary complaint with the Hearing Board, an unauthorized practice of law proceeding, or whether the investigation should be closed or deferred with remedial conditions. Two members of the Panel constitute a quorum, and the concurrence of a majority is necessary for a decision.
ARDC staff provides panel members with written materials summarizing the evidence developed in investigations before panel meetings, which are generally held five to six times a year. During meetings, panel members review and discuss the evidence. Panels may also hear testimony from witnesses or the respondent and may direct that further investigation be conducted. Meetings may be held at the ARDC’s Chicago or Springfield offices but are frequently conducted by videoconference or conference call. The time commitment associated with Inquiry Board service is typically three to four hours per month.
Additionally, Inquiry Board members will be invited to attend the ARDC’s annual Board Member Seminar and dinner.
Time commitment: One to four hours per month on average.
The ARDC’s Oversight Committee members conduct quality assurance reviews of a representative sample of investigations closed by ARDC staff attorneys without referral to the Inquiry Board. The Committee is composed of a mix of lawyers and non-lawyers. The Oversight review process is intended to help identify ways to improve the handling of investigations generally. Occasionally, the process also identifies investigations that should be reopened. Oversight reviews are not an appeal but rather serve as a check on the agency’s investigative work product.
The Oversight Committee is aligned into four teams, each consisting of one or two Commissioners, two or three Oversight members, and one or two practice group managers. Investigations are assigned from the practice group to one of the Oversight members for review. Members are provided with investigative file materials through a secure cloud-based file-sharing service, review those materials online, complete an online evaluation form for each investigation reviewed, and return the evaluation forms to the ARDC, where they are reviewed by staff and shared with a Commissioner assigned to the Oversight team.
Oversight members are generally assigned one or two investigative files per month for review. The time commitment required for Oversight work is typically one to four hours each month.
Additionally, Oversight Committee members will be invited to attend the ARDC’s annual Board Member Seminar and dinner.
Time commitment: Six to eight hours of preparation for meetings lasting two to three hours held three to four times each year.
The Client Protection Program (CPP) reimburses claimants for losses caused by dishonest conduct of lawyers or involving unearned fees paid to lawyers who later died. CPP staff investigate claims and present reports and recommendations for the disposition of claims to the Commission. The Commission votes on claims at its regular meetings. Claimants and respondent attorneys may request reconsideration of Commission decisions. The CPP Review Panel, which consists of two lawyers and one public member, considers those requests.
The panel generally meets about three times a year and considers between five and ten claims at each meeting. Panel members are sent information packets about the claims on the agenda before each meeting. During meetings, which may be in-person, by videoconference, or by conference call, panel members discuss the facts and the Commission’s decision on each claim and determine whether to recommend affirming, reversing, or modifying the Commission’s decision. The panel can also request that further investigation be conducted on a claim or can determine to hold an informal hearing on a claim, at which the parties may appear. Panel meetings usually last about two hours. The estimated preparation time per meeting is six to eight hours.
After the panel reaches a decision, staff drafts a Panel Report and Recommendation for the panel members’ approval. Once the panel approves the Report and Recommendation, it is sent to the Commission for a final decision on the claim.
Additionally, Client Protection Review Board members will be invited to attend the ARDC’s annual Board Member Seminar and dinner.
What skills and experience are required for a volunteer position with the ARDC?
We are looking for a diverse set of skills and experience. Attorney members can practice in any area of law. Public members can work in any field. We are primarily looking for individuals who are responsible and open-minded, have good judgment and a high degree of integrity, and can decide a matter objectively and impartially.
All applications must be received by December 1 of the year prior to the appointment. For example, applications for appointments made in 2024 must be received by December 1, 2023.
Yes. Please submit a resume, curriculum vitae or other written biographical information. If for some reason you cannot provide a resume, please note the reason on your application, and provide additional information about your past employment.
After you submit an application, you will get an email acknowledging that the ARDC received your application. The email will also inform you of the next steps.
- December 1: Applications are collected throughout the year until December 1.
- December 1 through January 15: Applicants are evaluated, and those selected will be contacted for an interview. Applicants should be prepared to provide the interviewer with two or three references.
- February: After interviews are completed, a list of candidates will be presented to the Commission. At its February meeting, the Commission will decide who to appoint to the open positions. Notices will be sent to all applicants in late February.
- March 1: Appointments are effective from March 1 to February 28 of the following year.
All applicants will be notified whether they have been appointed at the end of February.
No. If you are not appointed and want to be considered for an appointment the next year, you must resubmit your application.
Appointees to the Hearing Board will be required to attend a 1-2 hour training session. Appointees to other bodies will be provided with necessary information and training materials.
All appointments are for one year, from March 1 to February 28 the following year. You can be reappointed for up to nine one year terms.
No. Once you are appointed, you will automatically be considered for reappointment unless you have reached your term limit or advised us that you do not wish to be considered for reappointment.
Hearing Board members are required to read certain documents prior to a hearing, attend the hearing, and participate in the decision making process after the hearing. Some hearings take one hour, others take several days. Generally, a Hearing Board member will be assigned to one to three hearings per year.
Hearings are assigned on a random basis using a computer program. Approximately one month before a scheduled hearing, you will receive a call from the Clerk’s office. At that time, you will be informed of the date of the hearing and approximately how long it will take to complete. Based on your availability, you can either accept or decline the hearing. If you decline the hearing, your name will come up for another hearing at a future date.
No. Hearing Board members are not required accept a specific number of hearings. However, we encourage members to accept as many hearings as practical.
Currently, hearings are held in-person and remotely, depending on the type of hearing. In person hearings that are scheduled in Chicago are held at 130 E. Randolph Drive, Suite 1500, Chicago, IL 60601. In person hearing that are scheduled in Springfield are held at 3161 West White Oaks Drive, Suite 301, Springfield, IL 62704.
No. Hearing assignments are based on your geographic location. If you live north of I-80, you will be considered a Chicago Hearing Board member, and be assigned to cases in the Chicago office. If you live south of I-80, you will be considered a Springfield Hearing Board member, and be assigned cases in the Springfield office. For in-person hearings, you will be required to travel to the office to which you are assigned. Depending on the distance you are required to travel, we will reimburse you for your expenses.
Inquiry Panels review investigations referred by ARDC staff attorneys and determine whether sufficient evidence exists for the filing of a formal disciplinary complaint against a lawyer-respondent, whether there is a sufficient basis for an unauthorized practice of law proceeding, or whether the investigation should be dismissed, closed or deferred with remedial conditions. Panels may direct ARDC staff to conduct further investigation or ask respondents to appear before them before making a decision.
Inquiry panels generally met five or six times each year for an average of two to three hours. Panel members are expected to review written materials relating to the cases that will be discussed at each meeting in advance.
Meetings may be held in person at the ARDC’s office or be conducted by videoconference or conference call. One Panel works with staff at the ARDC’s Springfield office and typically meets in person at the Springfield office. The other three panels work with staff based in the Chicago office, and in-person meetings of those panels are held at the ARDC’s Chicago office.
Oversight Committee members conduct quality assurance reviews of a representative sample of investigations closed by ARDC staff attorneys without referral to the Inquiry Board. Members are provided with investigative file materials through a secure cloud-based file-sharing service, review those materials online, complete an online evaluation form for each investigation reviewed, and return the evaluation forms to the ARDC, where they are reviewed by staff and Commission members.
Oversight Committee members are generally assigned one or two investigative files per month for review. The time commitment required for Oversight work is typically one to four hours each month.
No. Oversight Committee members work independently in reviewing and evaluating investigative files. Like all ARDC volunteers, Oversight Committee members are invited to attend the ARDC’s annual Board Member Seminar and dinner.
The Client Protection Review Panel reviews Commission decisions to approve or deny the payment of reimbursement to Program claimants where either the claimant or the respondent-attorney requests reconsideration. Panel members review written materials relating to claims and may request that staff conduct additional investigation. The Panel may also convene informal hearings on claims at which the claimant and respondent-attorney may appear. With staff assistance, the Panel prepares a report and recommendation for each claim considered. That report is referred to the Commission for a final decision on the claim.
The Client Protection Review Panel generally meets about three times each year and considers between five and ten claims at each meeting. Panel members are expected to review written materials regarding claims prior to each meeting. Panel meetings typically last about two hours. The preparation time for each meeting averages six to eight hours.
Meetings may be held in person at the ARDC’s Chicago office or be conducted by videoconference or conference call.