Illinois Supreme Court adopts 'proactive management-based regulation'
The Illinois Supreme Court announced rule amendments today that make Illinois the first state to adopt so-called “proactive management-based regulation” (PMBR), a system designed to prevent ethical missteps by requiring lawyers without malpractice insurance to review their operations. For the text of the changes, see Amended Rule 756(e).
Beginning in 2018, Illinois attorneys in private practice who do not have malpractice insurance must complete a four-hour interactive, online self-assessment regarding the operation of their law firm. This self-assessment will require lawyers to demonstrate that they have reviewed the operations of their firm based upon both lawyer ethics rules and best business practices. The program will be administered by the ARDC.
Following a lawyer’s self-assessment, the ARDC will provide him or her with a list of resources to address issues identified during the self-assessment process, according to a supreme court press release. All information gathered in a lawyer’s online self-assessment is confidential, although the ARDC may report data in the aggregate.
Lawyers who do not maintain malpractice insurance are required to complete a self-assessment every two years. Other lawyers are encouraged to self-assess. Lawyers who participate in the PMBR self-assessment will earn free MCLE credits.
“Traditionally, attorney regulation has tended to be reactive," Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier said. "Enforcement efforts have come into play only after a problem has arisen. PMBR represents a fundamentally different approach. As its name implies, PMBR is aimed at helping lawyers avoid disciplinary problems before they occur. Today’s rule changes are a vital step in implementation of that new strategy. PMBR promises a new level of protection for the public, and the court is optimistic that it will be embraced by practicing attorneys with the same level of enthusiasm expressed by the numerous professional bodies that have urged its adoption.” For more about PMBR, see the cover story in the June 2016 Illinois Bar Journal.
According to the court, the changes were based upon a multi-year study of PMBR initiatives in other countries and in the United States and after consultation with key Illinois stakeholders, including many bar association and lawyer groups.
ARDC Vice-Chair David F. Rolewick said, “With PMBR, the supreme court is reaching out to sole proprietors and small firm lawyers and providing them with the tools to better manage their practices. Good practice management improves the quality of a lawyer’s services to a client and reduces the stresses in a lawyer’s life.”