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Limited Scope Representation in Transactions - Put it in Writing

Posted on April 11, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

Limited scope representation has been ethically permissible in Illinois since at least 2010 and probably even before then. Initially conceived to make it easier to serve clients of modest means, it might be more important today as a way to accommodate changing consumer preferences about legal services.

Board Approves Tracking Software and Imputed Disqualification Ethics Opinions

Posted on February 5, 2018 by Sara Anderson

At the Jan. 26 Board of Governors meeting in Rockford, the Board adopted two ethics opinions.

Opinion 18-01 considers whether the use of undisclosed "tracking" software (e.g., "web bugs," web beacons," or "spymail") in electronic communications with other lawyers or clients is ethically permissible. The opinion concludes that a lawyer may not use such software in e-mails or other electronic communications with other lawyers or clients in the course or representing a client without first obtaining the informed consent of each recipient to the use of such software. 

An Ethics Roadmap for Referrals

Posted on January 17, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

As the January Illinois Bar Journal cover story makes clear, good referrals serve the interests of lawyers and clients alike. In her column in the January issue, ISBA assistant counsel Bailey Felts enumerates the key ethics rules you'll need to consult before heading down the referral road.

CLE: Ethics Extravaganza 2017

Posted on April 24, 2017 by Sara Anderson

The ethical issues government attorneys encounter differ from those faced by private practitioners. Join us in Chicago on May 11, 2017 for this lively program that’s comprised of skits, scenarios, and group discussions, allowing participants to gather invaluable information on identifying potential ethical dilemmas and applying the Rules of Professional Conduct in a fun and interesting way. Government attorneys with basic to intermediate practice experience will benefit from the ethical information presented throughout this seminar.

The seminar is presented by the ISBA Standing Committee on Government Lawyers and qualifies for 4.0 hours MCLE credit, including 4.0 hours Professional Responsibility MCLE credit (subject to approval).

Click here for more information and to register.

CLE: The Fear Factor: How Good Lawyers Get Into (and Avoid) Ethical Trouble

Posted on August 15, 2016 by Morgan Yingst

Some of the scariest stories are those where responsible lawyers who care about acting in an appropriate manner get into disciplinary trouble – because if it can happen to them, it can happen to us. Join us in Chicago or via live webcast on September 16, 2016 as our speaker, Stuart Teicher, gives us a guided tour along the path where common missteps are frequently made by otherwise honorable attorneys. Topics include: the responsibilities of a subordinate lawyer and what to do if you’re told to do something unethical; how to avoid making false statements or misrepresenting the truth in five key areas; the duties of a supervising attorney toward associate lawyers; the changing trends toward professionalism in the practice; conflicts of interest issues; keeping your attorney-client relationships at an appropriate level; and substance abuse and money issues.

CLE: Legal Issues Surrounding Social Media: Trademark, Employment Law, Trial Issues, and Ethics – LIVE WEBCAST

Posted on March 9, 2016 by Morgan Yingst

Don’t miss this live webcast on March 24, 2016 that discussion on the legal issues surrounding social media, including common intellectual property, discovery, and ethical concerns that can arise from your client’s use of social media. Attorneys with basic practice experience who attend this live webcast will better understand: trademark issues and risks that clients face when using social media; how to respond to the unauthorized use of trademarks on social media; how to advise your business client on social media policies in the workplace; how the National Labor Relations Board treats social media discussions, especially between employees; how to identify and avoid ethical pitfalls that may arise when using social media in your practice, including issues with advertising and communication with court personnel, opposing parties, or potential clients; the evidentiary and practical issues encountered when using social media at trial; how the Cable Communications Act and Stored Communications Act have affected providers’ reluctance to turn over information and discovery obtain from social media accounts; and much more!

Ethics Question of the Week: What should I do with unidentified funds in IOLTA account?

Posted on July 16, 2015 by Chris Bonjean

Q. I have recently discovered some unidentified funds in my IOLTA account. What do I do with those?

Ethics Question of the Week: Does family member affect attorney-client privilege?

Posted on July 9, 2015 by Chris Bonjean

Q. I have a client who, because of a mental impairment, wishes to have a family member sit in on our discussions. Does this affect the attorney-client privilege?

ISBA issues 2 ethics opinions

Posted on June 30, 2015 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois State Bar Association issued two ethics opinions June 30, 2015:

  • Ethics Opinion 15-01: An in-house lawyer, admitted to the bar of a state other than Illinois but with a permanent office in Illinois, may practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office on behalf of his or her employer without a limited license under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 716. Such a lawyer’s practice is restricted to those activities that are authorized by 37 C.F.R. 11.5(b).
  • Ethics Opinion 15-02: A lawyer may deposit his own funds into a client trust account to pay bank service charges on that account, and should pay himself back such funds when they are no longer necessary for that purpose. Unidentified funds contained in a client trust account must, after one (1) year from the discovery of the unidentified funds, be remitted to the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois. Unclaimed funds contained in a client trust account should, after five (5) years, be remitted to the State as abandoned property.

View our full database of ethics questions on our ethics page at

Ethics Question of the Week: Can I use a lien to secure my fees?

Posted on June 25, 2015 by Chris Bonjean

Q. I know I can’t take a proprietary interest in the subject matter of litigation but does that prevent me from using a lien to secure my fees?

A. IRPC 1.8(i)(1) states that a lawyer “shall not acquire a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of litigation the lawyer is conducting for a client, except that the lawyer may: acquire a lien authorized by law to secure the lawyer’s fee or expenses.”  Comment [16] to that rule reminds a lawyer to check which liens are authorized by law in their jurisdiction. 

ISBA members can browse past ISBA Ethics Opinions, access our Ethics Hotline, and other resources on the ISBA Ethics Page.

[Disclaimer. These questions are representative of calls received on the ISBA’s ethics hotline. The information provided below is meant as an educational tool to highlight potentially applicable Illinois RPC or other ethics resources that might help the lawyer answer the question posed. The information provided isn’t legal advice. Because every situation is different, often complex, and the law is constantly evolving, you shouldn’t rely upon this general information without conducting your own research.]