‘This is a position of service’: Illinois Supreme Court Justice talks with QU mock trial students

Lisa Holder White

The Quincy University mock trial team talked Thursday afternoon with Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lisa Holder White. | Noah Klauser

QUINCY — Real world connections and experience are essential for lawyers to provide the service they need to their clients.

Having these real world connections and experiences is why the Quincy University mock trial team welcomed the opportunity to talk Thursday afternoon with Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lisa Holder White. She was joined by Eugene Doherty and Amy Lannerd, both justices in the Illinois Fourth District Appellate Court.

The three judges helped the students gain valuable insight into the profession of studying law.

Jordan Heeter, captain of Quincy University’s Mock Trial team for the past three years, is a senior studying forensic psychology and political science. She plans to start law school in the fall. She and the other students attending talked with the judges and asked them questions.

“A lot of times we hear … they’re elected or they’re appointed, but we don’t really understand the work that goes into getting … that election and winning it,” Heeter said. “Hearing them tell their stories about how they went back to their communities or were able to learn things in law school and connect with people, those are lessons we don’t always get when we’re studying textbooks.”

This experience and others were key points the judges touched on during their time with the students. They emphasized how lawyers are hired for their experience, and that lawyers should always give their best for their clients through hard work and dedication to their cases.

“This is a position of service,” Heeter said. “It takes a lot of work to get there, and it’s not going to be easy. You have to remember to not only take care of yourself but also make sure that you’re taking care of your community.”

Those studying law often look forward to helping people, both in and outside of their community. This isn’t always possible to do at the level someone may want to. Not everyone will end up on the Illinois Supreme Court.

“I always focused on blooming where I was planted,” Holder White said. “Whatever position you’re in, it’s important to work hard at that position.”

That’s just what Holder White did.

She started first as a prosecutor in her hometown of Decatur. She then went on to work at various levels of the judiciary system from Associate Court all the way up to her position on the Illinois Supreme Court.

“There was no grand plan,” Justice Holder White said. “It was just a matter of enjoying and working hard at every level that I found myself in. It seemed that opportunity seemed to come about and doors opened.”

Putting in the work necessary to find these open-door opportunities doesn’t always align with a person’s own position.

“Law means taking positions not necessarily because you are able to indulge what you like, but you have to be able to give voice to what someone else’s position is,” Doherty said. “That means being able to argue both sides of an issue, being able to make a case for something because someone else feels it’s important to them.”

Law school is the goal for many of the Quincy University students on the mock trial team. However, the insight learned from their guest speakers will aid them regardless of where they end up.

“Every job has times where there’s a question and … to be able to make a strong argument for it is a valuable skill … whether you’re in the law or outside of it,” Doherty said. 

Noah Klauser is a Quincy native and a Culver-Stockton College student serving as an intern for Muddy River News during the spring semester.

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