ISBA's new president outlines his year to come, during which practice-oriented legal technology will be front and center.
It is with great honor and excitement that I take the reins to serve as the 135th President of the Illinois State Bar Association. Many presidents preceded me, and no doubt many more will follow. As we enter this new year, we will build on the programs of the past and create new pathways and future opportunities for each other.
The initiatives of our past presidents and membership will continue. John G. O'Brien made great strides in making diversity a priority. Mark D. Hassakis focused our attention on the need to reform the juvenile justice system. We will build upon these and other successful programs.
Speaking of the past, I take great pride in the fact that I am the second ISBA president from my law firm, Amari & Locallo. My law partner, Leonard F. Amari, served the association admirably as the 112th President in 1989-90. Shortly thereafter, he formed Amari & Locallo with my brother and law partner, Joseph F. Locallo, Jr. Today we consist of nine lawyers - a number that mirrors the size of a typical ISBA law firm - and we all face the same issue… remaining effective in a competitive economy.
As we look to the future, we see a legal profession performing during uncertain times. The U.S. economy and globalization have made American business lean and efficient, resulting in increased pressure on the legal profession. Law firms are competing with non-lawyer websites and offshore competition.
As our economy recovers, the businesses that survive will be those that best use technology. And since we live in a legal world where e-filing and e-discovery are heated topics, we too must embrace these technologies in order for our practices to succeed. We must become more efficient to compete and provide better services, so that we can have more time to do what we do best - be lawyers and counsel our clients.
For years, the ISBA has helped lawyers become better lawyers, and now we are asking the ISBA to take the lead in educating its membership in the use of legal technology. The ISBA will review, recommend, and in some instances, offer the latest legal technologies.
Technology makes practice easier and better
We will be giving our members more practice management and legal technology information and resources. We will be providing content and services in practice management software, document storage, data retrieval and merger, cloud computing, and virtual offices.
We are currently exploring providing legal forms in key practice areas to our members. This will result in easier, quicker, and more efficient document assembly.
We have expanded our strategic marketing to electronic media. We have improved our Illinois Lawyer Finder lawyer referral service. The entire public website has been redesigned, making it much more attractive and easy to use. Multimedia formats will speak to the public. Search engine optimization will instantly draw the public to the relevant practice-area homepage. This will drive business to our members participating in this service.
Our own ISBA member website will be improved, making it easier to search for online versions of the Illinois Bar Journal and ISBA newsletters with archives going back more than a decade.
We will be helping Illinois lawyers with their own websites, offering seminars that help members create or update their lawfirm sites.
With the help of the ISBA Mutual Insurance Company, Fastcase will remain free to members, now with added benefits such as bankruptcy cases, even more federal court opinions, and Illinois Supreme and Appellate Court opinions dating back to our earliest reported cases in 1819.
We also will be using social media to create business opportunity and to communicate both within membership and to the general public. I have my own personal Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter pages (my Twitter handle is JGLCHI). Similarly, the ISBA and Illinois Bar Foundation have their own Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter pages. Please follow us.
Another exciting development will be the remodeling of our Chicago regional office. Starting in July with completion scheduled for the fall, the ISBA Chicago office will be a better meeting space for members. The centerpiece will be the CLE classrooms/meeting rooms, which will contain the latest in video, audio, and communications technology. This will result in a better live CLE experience, while our new ISBA media center recording studio will allow us to distribute high quality CLE via the internet or disc.
We do great things
I urge you to become a fellow of the Illinois Bar Foundation. The foundation is playing an even bigger role in funding legal service organizations throughout the state and taking care of our own through the Lawyers Care program. Upcoming events include honoring President Mark D. Hassakis on July 14 at Carnivale in Chicago, the Cub-Cardinal rooftop game on August 19, and the Gala on October 14 honoring Newt Minow.
Don't miss the encore performance of "Lawyers Rock Legends" at Buddy Guy's Legends in February of 2012. Anyone who attended the event this past year witnessed one of the truly legendary bar events.
And we will continue our close association with the ISBA Mutual, offering competitive insurance rates to our members, an insurance company created by ISBA members, for ISBA members.
All of this will result in a busy and most exciting year that will benefit our members and profession for years to come. With the help of our hard-working members, the committees, sections, Assembly and Board of Governors, we can make this all possible. Thank you for the privilege of serving. I'm looking forward to working with you!
John G. Locallo is a partner in Amari & Locallo, which has offices in Chicago and Bloomingdale. He concentrates his practice in real estate tax assessment. He earned his undergraduate degree in accounting at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign campus in 1982 and his law degree at Chicago-Kent College of Law-IIT in 1986, where he also received an LL.M in taxation in 1992. He is a CPA.
He was ISBA treasurer in 2007 and has been a member of the Board of Governors since 2004. He served on the Assembly from 1996-2004 and was vice-chair of the ISBA State and Local Taxation Section Council in 2003. He is a member of the Illinois Bar Foundation Board of Directors, where he served as Fellows Chair.
He is a former president of the Chicago-Kent College of Law-IIT Alumni Board of Directors and of the Justinian Society of Lawyers. He received the Distinguished Service Award from Chicago-Kent in 2002, the L. Sanford Blustin Award, North Suburban Bar Association in 2010, and will receive the Justinian Society's Man of the Year Award later in 2011.