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ISBA Statehouse review for the week of Nov. 16

Posted on November 17, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews bills in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers: cuts to Legal Services' funding, Senate Bill 1694, House Bill 1589, House Bill 1712, House Bill 1604 and Senate Bill 1259. Information on each bill is available below the video.

Legal Services' funding drastically cut.

The funding for Legal Services Corporation was reduced by about 14.8 % for FY 12. Fiscal Year 2011 funding was at $404 million, and the House Senate conference committee voted to reduce it to $348 million for FY 12.

Congress has settled on the halfway number between the House and Senate committee recommendations despite the fact that the overall cuts in this appropriation amount to 2%. This is a huge and disproportionate cut—more than $56 million. This has to be devastating for Legal Assistance Foundation,  Prairie State Legal Services and Land of Lincoln. As a practical matter, what this means for Illinois is about a $1 million cut for LAF and another almost $1 million combined cut for Prairie State and Land of Lincoln.

Best Practice: Contemplating merging with another law firm

Posted on November 16, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. We are a 15 attorney estate planning firm just outside of New York City. Ten years ago we had 37 lawyers in the firm. We have had several defections due to internal management problems pertaining to structure and compensation. We have operated more as a group of solo practitioners than as a true law firm. Recently we have considered the option of merging with a larger firm. What are your thought regarding the pros and cons of doing this?

A. Research indicates that 1/3 to 1/2 of all mergers fail to meet expectations due to cultural misalignment and personnel problems. Don't try to use a merger or acquisition as a life raft, for the wrong reasons and as your sole strategy. Successful mergers are based upon a sound integrated business strategy that creates synergy and a combined firm that produces greater client value than either firm can produced alone. Right reasons for merging might include:

  1. Improve the firm's competitive position. Increase specialization - obtain additional expertise.
  2. Expand into other geographic regions.
  3. Add new practice areas.
  4. Increase or decrease client base.
  5. Improve and/or solidify client relationships.

I would start by thinking about your reasons for wanting to merge and your objectives. Ask yourself the following questions?

Book review: Breach of Trust

Posted on November 14, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Breach of Trust by David D. Ellis. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York 2011; 417 pagesBy Michael S. Jordan, Retired Judge – Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois

David Ellis, the author of Breach of Trust, is a lawyer on the staff of the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, Michael Madigan. He was the chief impeachment prosecutor on behalf of the Illinois House pursuing the impeachment of Governor Rod Blagojevich at the Illinois State Senate where the governor was convicted and removed from office. Ellis’ real life experience and the knowledge he acquired proved invaluable and fantastic as research and background to write this realistic, timely, and riveting novel.

Breach of Trust is a fast paced political thriller with murder, violence, and continual suspense as fictional hero, Jason Kolarich, a former prosecutor and acclaimed defense attorney, goes underground to settle a score. In the process Ellis has Kolarich pursue this saga with several of Ellis’ characters from his other works of fiction. Ellis cleverly unveils the levels of deceit, corruption, and intrigue in the politics of Illinois government.

DuPage County announces Veteran's Track

Posted on November 11, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Chief Judge Stephen J. Culliton, Chief Judge Elect John T. Elsner and MICAP Programs Judge Jane H. Mitton and State's Attorney Robert B. Berlin announced recently that a Veteran's Track is being initiated as a cooperative effort between the 18th Judicial Circuit of Illinois Drug Court and Mental Illiness Court Alternative Programs (MICAP) and the Veteran's Administration.

The mission of the Veteran's Track is to reduce the number of incidence crimes committed by verteran with substance abuse, traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder and/or mental health issues as a results of their military service. This will be achieved by the operation of a highly structured judicial intervention process for these veterans that brings together Veteran Administraiton treatment services and intesnsive judicial monitoring through Drug Court or MICAP.

Participants will consist of those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and who have received an honorable or general discharge from the military. For further information, please contact Jim Wojtas, Drug Court/MICAP Program Manager at (630) 407-8846 or james.wojtas@dupageco.org. The start date is Jan. 1, 2012.

Contribution for college expenses: don't let your divorce clients miss the boat

Posted on November 9, 2011 by Mark S. Mathewson

You see it all the time. Mom and Dad don't decide by the close of their divorce -- i.e., by the time the decree is issued -- who will pay how much for Junior's college education. They reserve that one for later.

Later finally arrives, as it is wont to do. And Mom comes to court waving Junior's tuition bill, which she has already paid, seeking an order for what she thinks is a reasonable contribution from Dad.

Unfortunately, she's too late, according to the Illinois Supreme Court's September 2011 decision in In re the Marriage of Petersen. Read Cecilia Hynes Griffin's and Scott P. Kramer's analysis of the case in the latest ISBA Family Law newsletter.

Nearly 2,200 new attorneys admitted in Illinois

Posted on November 9, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Nearly 2,200 new attorneys were admitted to practice in Illinois on Thursday, November 10 with Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court presiding and administering the attorney’s oath at five separate locations.

All of the candidates have passed the Illinois state bar examination and an ethics examination, and have been certified by the Committee on Character and Fitness.

The largest group, 1,600, were admitted in the First Judicial District during ceremonies starting at the McCormick Place West Skyline Ballroom. Illinois Supreme Court Justice Charles E. Freeman presided over the ceremony, with Justices Anne M. Burke and Mary Jane Theis participating.

Justice Freeman introduced Cook County Associate Judge Frank B. Castiglione, who made the motion to admit the class.

The Hon. Joseph N. Casciato, retired associate judge, seconded the motion to admit the class.

Illinois State Bar Association President John G. Locallo was one of two bar association presidents to address the class.

The 2,155 men and women were certified as candidates and  were sworn in as Illinois attorneys Thursday at ceremonies in the five Supreme Court judicial districts.

The new attorneys will bring the total number of licensed attorneys in Illinois to approximately 90,200.

Click here to view pictures from the 1st District Admission Ceremony

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