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Marsalek appointed Cook County Circuit Judge

Posted on October 3, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Diann K. Marsalek as a Circuit Judge of Cook County, at Large. This vacancy was created by the retirement of the Honorable Margaret O'Mara Frossard.

This appointment is effective on Oct. 3, 2011, and terminates on Dec. 3, 2012.

Cunnington appointed associate judge in 21st Circuit

Posted on September 30, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced that the Twenty-First Judicial Circuit judges voted to select Thomas W. Cunnington as an associate judge of the Twenty-First Judicial Circuit.

Mr. Cunnington received his undergraduate degree in 1977 from Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, and his Juris Doctor in 1981 from John Marshall School of Law. Mr. Cunnington is currently engaged in solo practice in Kankakee.

Illinois Supreme Court amends CLE rules

Posted on September 30, 2011 by Chris Bonjean
The Illinois Supreme Court has amended some of the rules regarding Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) for Illinois attorneys.

Among other things, the changes will provide greater flexibility to newly admitted attorneys who need to complete their initial MCLE requirements and make it more attractive for them to participate in an approved mentoring program as part of their initial MCLE requirements.

The Court also eliminated a $20 fee which attorneys had been required to pay to claim credit for participation in non-traditional activities to meet the MCLE requirements.

The amended rules do not change the basic MCLE requirement that attorneys, other than newly admitted lawyers, earn 30 hours of CLE activity during two-year reporting periods beginning in 2012, and 24 hours of certified credit through the 2011 reporting period.

Previously, newly-admitted attorneys were required to take a 15-hour Basic Skills Course. New attorneys admitted after October 1, 2011 are still required to take a total of 15 hours of credit for their initial MCLE requirements but the amended rules give these attorneys more options to fulfill these requirements.  New attorneys need to participate in six hours of professional responsibility credit either by attending a six-hour Basic Skills Course or by participating in a mentoring program pre-approved by the Commission on Professionalism. The additional nine MCLE hours can be according to the new lawyer's choosing and may include professional responsibility credits.

Illinois Supreme Court updates CLE rules to give newly admitted attorneys more choices

Posted on September 29, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

New attorneys have heard all about the 15 hour basic skills requirement, but Supreme Court rule changes announced this week allow more flexibility in meeting the requirement.

Up to now, new admittees were required to complete a 15 hour basic skills course within their first year of admission. Effective immediately, the Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Board will accept a 15 hour combination of basic skills instruction (6 hours), mentoring through the Supreme Court’s Commission on Professionalism (6 hours), plus traditional or non-traditional CLE credits to complete the balance.

ISBA is gearing up to help new admittees meet the requirements in the amended rule.

Read more for details.

ISBA Statehouse Review for the week of Sept. 29

Posted on September 29, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA Director of Legislation Jim Covington looks at bill in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he looks at: Public Act 97-148 access to a principal's medical records by his or her agent under a power of attorney for health care; House Bill 1589 may pass in veto session changing law on custody and visitation orders  for deployed service members; House Bill 1712's amendatory veto that affects limited powers of attorney for property by financial institutions for limited business purposes.

Does your law firm need a virtual reality?

Posted on September 28, 2011 by Mark S. Mathewson

Do you really need that expensive office space you're leasing? Internet-based legal software lets you cut costs while expanding your potential client base by taking part -- or maybe all -- of your practice online. In the October Illinois Bar Journal, Peter Olson explains what he other ISBA lawyers, like Cheryl Morrison of Mokena, are doing to create virtual practices.

Best Practice: Law firm upstream mergers/acquisition - Merging with a larger firm

Posted on September 28, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm is a three partner general practice firm in a small community. Our ages are 72, 68, and 64 respectively.  Our firm has not adequately prepared for succession/exit of the partners. We have over the years hired associates but have been unable to keep them - they have all left for greener pastures. We are now contemplating merger with a much larger firm that has 40 plus attorneys. We have had several meetings at the office and we have provided them with our financials. They have not provided us with detailed information. We are getting frustrated. It has been over four months since we began talking with this firm and we seem to be "stuck" and not maintaining momentum. We have other options that we have just begun exploring. How can we get "unstuck" and move this process along?

A. Right off the bat - admit that this is not a merger of equals - it is more of an acquisition.  Hopefully, you have discussed firm name, whether your existing office will be retained or closed, and the future roles of each you as well as your staff. These are often deal breakers and many firm merger talks never get past this point.

Illinois Supreme Court disbars 12, suspends 43, censures 10

Posted on September 26, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced the filing of disciplinary orders involving a number of licensed lawyers. The Court has disbarred 12 lawyers, suspended 43, censured 10, remprimanded two and transferred three others to inactive disability status. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.


  • Catherine M. Brame, Bloomington

Ms. Brame was licensed in California in 1987 and in Illinois in 1994. She was disbarred in California for misappropriating over $80,000 in client funds. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred her.

  • Richard William Fischer, St. Louis

Mr. Fischer was licensed in Missouri in 1991 and in Illinois in 1992. He was disbarred in Missouri for accepting a $5,000 retainer and then failing to perform any legal services or return the retainer to the client. He also did not pay his bar enrollment fee, failed to comply with continuing legal education requirements, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law while he was suspended, failed to file state tax returns, and did not cooperate with the Missouri lawyer disciplinary authorities. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.

Legal services funding

Posted on September 23, 2011 by James R. Covington

As Congress negotiates the FY 2012 budget during the next few weeks, funding for legal aid may be drastically reduced. This couldn’t come at a worse time for those Americans who need the help that LSC provides. The Census Bureau’s recently released statistics cite that one in five Americans qualify for civil legal assistance at LSC programs. This includes 1.8 Illinois residents. These difficult times makes legal aid more important than ever. We need your help to make sure that the Illinois Congressional delegation understands the importance of LSC funding.

The Legal Services Corporation is the federal government’s principal means of funding legal aid for low-income Americans. LSC funding enables legal aid organizations to provide essential legal assistance to thousands of people in Illinois, including military families and veterans, domestic violence victims, the growing number of people facing foreclosure and many others who depend on legal aid for their safety and independence.

Please take a moment to act. Please call Senators Durbin and Kirk and your Representative and urge them to support funding for LSC at no less than $396 million for FY 2012. You may find your representative here. This amount is roughly proportionate to the overall discretionary spending levels approved in the recent debt-ceiling agreement and approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.