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Quick takes from today's Illinois Supreme Court opinions

Posted on October 27, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases A.B.A.T.E. of Ill., v. Quinn and Sierra Club v. Illinois Pollution Control Board. The Illinois Supreme Court summaries are included for Criminal case People v. Hill and Family Law case In re Dar. C. and Das. C., Minors.


A.B.A.T.E. of Ill., Inc. v. Quinn

By Alyssa M. Reiter, Williams Montgomery & John Ltd.

This case concerned issues of legislative authority regarding an amendment to the Cycle

Rider Safety Training Act.  In 1993, the legislature amended the Cycle Rider Safety Training Fund (CRSTF) from a special fund inside the state treasury to a “trust fundoutside of the State treasury.” The appeal considered what effect this amendment had on the legislature’s authority to order the transfer of funds out of the CRSTF and into the General Revenue Fund (GRF).  The issues included whether the transfer of funds out of the CRSTF amounted to an unconstitutional “taking” of private property without just compensation and whether, in order to transfer funds out of the CRSTF, the legislature had to first amend the CRST Act. The appellate court held that the removal of funds from the CRSTF was not an unconstitutional taking and that the legislature had the authority to order a transfer of funds out of the CRSTF and into the GRF. The Supreme Court affirmed.

Sierra Club v. Illinois Pollution Control Board

By Alyssa M. Reiter, Williams Montgomery & John Ltd.

ISBA Statehouse Review for the week of Oct. 26

Posted on October 26, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

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

House Bill 1604 (Howard, D-Chicago; Sullivan, D-Rushville) allows a court to order the following relief for visitation abuse: (1) suspend the defendant’s driving privileges; (2) suspend the defendant’s professional license; and (3) fine the defendant for not more than $500 as a petty offense; (4) requires a finding that a party engaged in visitation abuse constitutes “a change in circumstances of the child or his custodian” under Section 610 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act. It is scheduled for a hearing next week in Senate Judiciary Committee.

Planning to succeed

Posted on October 26, 2011 by Mark S. Mathewson

How many lawyers really know where they want to take their practices? How many have a strategic plan, complete with a mission, goals and an action plan flowing from that mission, and a system for measuring success? Find out why you should be one who does in the November Illinois Bar Journal.

Fastcase programs to kick off Solo and Small Firm Conference

Posted on October 26, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase, will kick off the Illinois State Bar Association's Solo and Small Firm Conference on Thursday morning with "Fastcase: Introduction to Legal Research Training." Walters will take continue after that program with "Fastcase: Advanced Legal Research Training 10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m."

Conference registration is now available on-site only.

Visit the Conference website for information about the Registration Pricing, Meal/Social Functions, and more.

Both of these programs provide 1.0 hour MCLE credit, including 1.0 hour approved

Best Practice: Competitive strategy for a personal injury plaintiff law firm in today's world

Posted on October 26, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

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

Q. We are a five attorney personal injury plaintiff firm in central Missouri. In the last few years we have gone through tort reform, increased competition from other law firms doing extensive advertising, and now trying to weather the recession. From a profitability standpoint - we are holding our own. However, we are concerned about the future. What are your thoughts for firm such as ours?

A. We are hearing this question quite often and have provided some thoughts in past blogs and articles. The majority of our PI law firm clients are advising that they are having to work much harder at getting clients and investing more heavily in marketing - both time and money. PI firms were feeling the most of these challenges before the recession. However, the recession may accelerate the pace with which law firms re-evaluate existing processes and consider new business models. PI firms may want to begin by:

1. Develop a firm strategic plan and individual attorney marketing plans which include aggressive network/contact plans for past clients, attorney referral sources (non PI attorneys), attorney referral sources (other PI attorneys), and other referral sources.

2. Evaluate the feasibility of adding an additional practice segment to reduce the level of risk in the case portfolio and reduce cash flow variability.

Illinois Supreme Court announces mentoring program for new attorneys in Cook County

Posted on October 25, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis announced Tuesday that the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is teaming up with Winston and Strawn, the Chicago Bar Association, the Cook County Bar Association, The John Marshall Law School, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and other legal organizations to begin a mentoring program for newly admitted lawyers in Cook County.

The announcement Tuesday continues a statewide initiative by Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, the Supreme Court and the Commission on Professionalism that was launched in June 2011 to urge attorney groups, law schools and individual lawyers to take an active hand in ensuring that new attorneys get prac-tical professional guidance after law school.

The early years of legal practice are among the most challenging for most attorneys. Recent law school graduates generally receive limited practical and clinical experience while in law school, and the months leading up to their admission to the bar are spent in extensive preparation for the two-day bar exam, which consists of essay and multiple choice questions with no gauge of clinical or practical experience.

In such an environment, experienced attorney mentors can prove invaluable in helping recent bar admit-tees learn the actual practice of law, and get them a meaningful start in their legal careers as well as pro-mote principles that guide them toward professionalism.

Internet Crime programs to air on Illinois Law in November

Posted on October 25, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Internet Crimes and Internet Crime Prevention, two half-hour programs presented by “Illinois Law,” will air on Chicago Access Network Television, Channel 21 in Chicago, during the month of November. Internet Crimes will air at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, Nov. 1, 15 and 29, and Internet Crime Prevention will air at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, Nov. 8 and 22. “Illinois Law” can also be viewed online at

Appearing on the shows are (from left) Richard Wistocki, a detective in the High Tech Crimes Unit, City of Naperville Police Department; Sarah Migas, an Internet Safety Specialist, Office of the Illinois Attorney General; David Haslett, chief of the High Tech Crimes Bureau, Office of the Illinois Attorney General; and program moderator Martin A. Dolan, of Dolan Law Offices in Chicago.

Illinois Law is a cable production of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA). The 33,000-member ISBA, with offices in Springfield and Chicago, provides professional services to Illinois lawyers, and education and services to the public.

Illinois State Bar Association’s Mark Mathewson earns national honor

Posted on October 24, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA Publications Director Mark Mathewson receives the E.A. “Wally” Richter Leadership Award from Duane Stanley, Communications Director of the Hennepin County (Minn.) Bar Association.Mark Mathewson, Director of Publications for the Illinois State Bar Association, has received the E.A. “Wally” Richter Leadership Award from the National Association of Bar Executives.  This award, given no more often than once annually, was given to Mathewson at the annual workshop of bar association communicators held October 21 in Nashville, Tennessee. 


The Richter Award is the Communication Section’s highest honor and is presented for outstanding achievement in the field of communications, extraordinary service to colleagues in NABE, and distinguished leadership of the communications section.  Mathewson is the 29th recipient of this recognition. A certified association executive (CAE), he served for a number of years on the leadership council of the NABE Communications Section, which has more than 200 members, culminating in chairing the section in 2007-2008. He has also designed, moderated, and been a speaker for various seminars, and now serves on the programming committee of NABE. Mark was earlier recognized by his peers nationally with the NABE Peer Excellence Award.

Pro Bono Proud: Celebrate National Pro Bono Week

Posted on October 23, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

By Hon. Barbara Crowder

Do you pro bono? If so, show you are “Pro Bono Proud” during National Pro Bono Week by attending a celebratory event. If not, why not? More opportunities abound to find a pro bono project that meets your time and abilities than ever before. And even more ways to pro bono may be coming to a circuit near you.

National Pro Bono Week is October 23 through 29, 2011. The ISBA through the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services joins with the ABA to ask all bar associations and lawyers to participate both by performing pro bono work and by joining in the celebrations. Help showcase the efforts of the great lawyers who volunteer and the range of services available for those who need them.

How? Pass a resolution in your local bar group to join those being passed throughout the nation lauding the efforts of pro bono attorneys. Then publicize it! A sample resolution is available for use as a draft. Write letters to the editors of local newspapers to discuss the programs available and to promote the good works of the volunteers. A sample letter to the editor is also available to use as a draft to put information about local pro bono efforts before the public. Finally, host a reception thanking the lawyers who do pro bono work and urging the others to sign up for some of the new programs that are being introduced.