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Practice News

Quick Take on Illinois Supreme Court Opinion Issued Friday, February 22

Posted on February 25, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois Supreme Court handed down one opinion on Friday, February 22. In Edwards v. Atterberry, the court denied a petitioner’s motion for a supervisory order but allowed him leave to file a complaint for writ of prohibition.

Edwards v. Atterberry

By Jay Wiegman, Office of the State Appellate Defender

It is not very often that a group of appellate attorneys has difficulty determining whether an Illinois Supreme Court case is criminal or civil in nature. Edwards v. Atterberry, 2019 IL 123370, however, is such a case. After a jury found Edwards guilty of violating the Timber Buyers Licensing Act, a section of the Professions, Occupations and Business Operations Act (225 ILCS 735/1, et seq. (2016)), he filed a motion for supervisory order and for leave to file a writ of prohibition seeking to prohibit Judge Atterberry from conducting a sentencing hearing or from taking any other action in the underlying criminal case. Edwards claimed that because he was charged with violating regulations rather than a statute defining a criminal offense, the circuit court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction. The supreme court denied the motion for a supervisory order but allowed Edwards leave to file a complaint for writ of prohibition.

ISBA Statehouse Review for February 20, 2019

Posted on February 20, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers special interrogatories, appearances by corporate officers, evictions, experts in adult guardianship reports, relocation in the IMDMA, condos and community associations, condos, public guardian fees, maintenance and veterans’ benefits, Cook County subcircuit judgeships, and Cook County associate judgeships.

Special interrogatories. House Bill 2233 (Thapedi, D-Chicago) repeals Section 2-1108 of the Code of Civil Procedure allowing special interrogatories in verdicts. House Bill 2233 is assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

Best Practice Tips: Is Growth Always the Best Strategy?

Posted on February 20, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am the sole owner of a five-attorney litigation firm in Mesa, Arizona. I started the firm 12 years ago after leaving a large firm. I was an income partner in that firm. For a few years I operated as a solo with a legal assistant. Then I began adding associates and staff. Now we have four associates, an office manager/bookkeeper, two paralegals, and two legal assistants. Our annual gross fee revenues are around $1.2 million, the overhead is high, and my net income is not all that much more than what I was making as a solo. My associates aren’t willing to put in the time to generate the billable hours that we need. Then there is the time and stress of managing all of this. Is growth a good thing?

Spotlight on Pro Bono: First Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Family Mediation Program

Posted on February 19, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

By Missy Greathouse

Dispute Resolution Institute, Inc. (DRI) has provided pro bono family mediation services to the first judicial circuit for the last nine years and is the only pro bono mediation organization available to the courts and families in southern Illinois.

Problems Blockchain Doesn’t Solve

Posted on February 19, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Blockchain may dramatically reduce the cost of processing mortgage applications and provide for transparent, secure transactions and efficient recordkeeping. But the strengths and limitations of blockchain should be better understood before replacing a title system that has been in place for more than 140 years in Illinois, argues Paul Peterson in his February 2019 article, “Problems Blockchain Doesn’t Solve,” for the Illinois Bar Journal. Peterson, vice president and senior underwriter for the Fidelity Family of Title Insurers, vice-chair of ISBA's Construction Law Section Council, and a member of ISBA's Real Estate Law Section Council, outlines record-validating problems that blockchain technology has yet to crack.

Illinois Supreme Court Appoints Joel Powless as Resident Judge in Fourth Judicial Circuit

Posted on February 15, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Joel J.C. Powless as a resident circuit judge in the Fourth Judicial Circuit.

Powless is being appointed to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of the Hon. Wm. Robin Todd on Jan. 18. The appointment takes effect on March 1 and will conclude on Dec. 7, 2020, when the vacancy will be filled by the winner of the November 2020 general election.

Illinois Supreme Court Announces Changes to Make Court Costs More Manageable

Posted on February 13, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois Supreme Court announced today several changes to the assessment system by which fees, fines, and other court costs are paid by civil and criminal case litigants.

These changes are a result of Public Act 100-0987, which was passed by the legislature in 2018 in order to simplify the imposition, collection, and distribution of court assessments. The changes include Civil Assessment Schedules as well as fee waivers in amended Rule 298 and new Rule 404.

The changes are effective July 1, and the new assessment structure, not including the waivers, expires Jan. 1, 2021. 

Quick Takes for Your Practice: How to Avoid the ARDC: Four Tips to Better Your Client Communication

Posted on February 13, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Attorney Kristin Olson discusses tips to avoid having to deal with the ARDC through better communications. Tips include writing monthly case status letters, returning phone calls on a timely basis, responding promptly to emails, and explaining a case to a client.

Best Practice Tips: Tools to Improve Communications

Posted on February 13, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. Our firm is a 16-attorney personal injury insurance defense firm located in Dallas, Texas. I am a member of our three-person management committee. We have been experiencing associate attorney and staff turnover. Recently, we had all employees complete confidential surveys concerning their thoughts and feedback concerning the firm. One theme that was central to all was that the firm has poor communications with employees. I would like to hear your thoughts on what we need to do to improve.

Office of the State Appellate Defender Seeks Assistant Appellate Defenders

Posted on February 12, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

The Office of the State Appellate Defender has openings for the position of assistant appellate defender in Springfield and Mt. Vernon.

The position will provide criminal appellate representation to indigent clients. Responsibilities include reading records, conducting research, drafting briefs and other documents, and presenting oral arguments.