About the Institute for Legal, Legislative and Policy Studies

Located at the University of Illinois Springfield, the Institute for Legal, Legislative and Policy Studies contributes to the creation, transfer and application of knowledge to improve public sector performance. The Institute has a permanent core of staff as well as faculty from various academic departments within the University who have a joint appointment with us. Other faculty members work with the Institute on specific projects. An interdisciplinary approach is used for most of our work given the diversity of faculty and staff backgrounds. The Institute works in partnership with state, local and federal government, foundations, and other UIS units. University students have opportunities to supplement their education through graduate assistantships, internships, and undergraduate employment with the Institute.

The Institute’s projects encompass all branches of government. Administrative and policy issues within the executive branch of government are a key focus and receive in-depth attention from our faculty and staff through research, evaluation and training projects. Because of their vital role in defining the policies of the state, legislative processes at the state level are also an important focus for our research and training efforts. Helping the court system access knowledge about best practices is a longstanding and continuing priority, as are improving the operations of the court system. The Institute’s projects include those independently undertaken and those funded on a grant or contract basis through public and private sector support. Many projects are supported by state, local and federal government, and others are funded by foundations and nonprofit organizations.

The Institute does not specialize in particular policy areas, but rather, is intended to be a versatile resource able to respond to public problems when they arise or can be anticipated. Over the past several years, our work has addressed substantive issues in areas such as social services, criminal justice, health care, traffic safety, campaign finance reform, education, legislative processes, the environment, and government operations. Our activities include the writing of publications; social science research and policy analysis, program evaluation, monitoring, and design, and the development of training curricula, workshops, and conferences. Training is tailored to professional skills enhancement for a variety of public agencies and community and other nonprofit services providers.

If you would like to know more about the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies or are interested in working with the Institute, contact Dr. A.J. Simmons at (217) 206-8109 or at asimm2@uis.edu.

Institute for Legal and Policy Studies Public Service and Education

The Institute’s public service and education activities contribute to improving the legal system and operation of government by increasing public awareness and understanding of its purpose and function. Public service projects address current legal issues and needs facing the citizenry and government. Large and diverse sets of audiences are reached through publications, conferences, and media presentations. The Institute also supports projects designed to improve teaching about the law and legal institutions at all educational levels.

Past public service and education activities

Seminars on Handling Offenders with Developmental Disabilities

Institute staff organized and conducted two one-day seminars for judges, state’s attorneys, defense counsel, probation officers, and mental health professionals on the law and offenders who have developmental disabilities. A handbook on the topic was developed and disseminated.

Law Day Forum

The Institute sponsors a yearly Law Day Forum to highlight a current legal issue. Guest speakers have included retired Illinois Supreme Court Justice Seymour Simon; Jerold Solovy, chair of the Special Commission on the Administration of Justice in Cook County (Greylord investigative commission); and Professor Lief Carter, author of several books and articles on the constitution and religion.

Law-Related Education in Secondary Schools

The Institute conducts projects for secondary education teachers and students. Projects have included the research and writing of a book, Understanding the Illinois Constitution, F. Kopecky and M. Harris (1986), which provides a concise resource for the study of the governing structure and the constitutional history of Illinois (major funding by Illinois Bar Foundation); assistance in the development of materials and the format for the Illinois State Bar Association sponsored mock trial competition for high school students; and the writing of articles and editing of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Law-Related Education newsletter.

Scattered Site Housing Forum

In the fall of 1994, the Institute sponsored a one-day forum on the topic of public housing Springfield. Led by Professor Gary Orfield of Harvard University, members of the UIS faculty and staff as well as the Springfield community leadership, media, and general public focused on this topic throughout the day.

Institute for Legal and Policy Studies Technical Assistance Projects

The Institute provides consultant services to government agencies, community, and non-profit organizations, and private entities in the preparation of technical documents which includes rules, legislation, and reports. In addition, its staff can provide expertise in legal and social science research and writing. The Institute does not provide legal assistance or representation.