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Best Practice: Law Firm Partnership - Pros and Cons

Posted on November 2, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a solo owner of a small law firm in Southern Illinois and have been solo for ten years. I have two staff members in the firm. Recently I have been contemplating either bringing in a partner or joining another firm? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

A. Partnership can offer its lawyers a measure of value independent of the skills, talents, and contributions of its individual partners?


The advantages that the best law firms have over sole practitioners or groups of lawyers who share overhead include:

  • Shared skills and expertise
  • Backup or additional help when needed
  • A safety net during economic downturns
  • Shared resources, such as technology, library and research access, forms, and work products
  • Cross-selling and/or referral of work
  • Access to the expertise of lawyers in various disciplines
  • Highly trained associates, legal assistants, and support staff
  • A firm name or reputation that makes marketing easier
  • More-sophisticated and highly skilled management
  • Opportunities for individual lawyers to become highly specialized
  • A system of partner coaching that brings out the best in each partner
  • Emotional support, encouragement, and personal recognition
  • Flexibility that allows lawyers to be more involved in probono, community, and bar activities
  • Continuation of the firm beyond the tenure of the current owners


Don't forget to check out travel and entertainment discounts for ISBA members

Posted on November 1, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

The TicketsAtWork Corporate Benefit Program offers Illinois State Bar Association members exclusive travel and entertainment discounts. We have over 500 regional and nationwide offers not available to the general public. Members can save on Walt Disney World tickets, Six Flags, Universal Studios and Cirque du Soleil, along with Broadway and Las Vegas Shows. In Illinois, the discounts range from Blue Man Group in Chicago to LegoLand in Schamburg.

Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride: From Solo to Supreme Court

Posted on October 28, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Chief Justice Thomas L. KilbrideIllinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride delivered the plenary speech to a packed house on Friday morning at the Illinois State Bar Association's Solo and Small Firm Conference in Springfield. The Chief Justice detailed his rise from legal aid lawyer to solo practioner to the Supreme Court.

Kilbride detailed his start as a young lawyer making $14,000 a year in 1981 at the Legal Aid clinic in Rock Island. He represented workers laid off during the early 80s recession from local factories.

Kilbride left the clinic to join a small law firm in 1987. He did insurance defense work and made partner, but became unhappy with the long hours and lack of control. He left and went out on his own in 1993.

He applied for associate judge three times, losing out each time. He finally won a much larger seat in 2000, joining the Illinois Supreme Court.

News and notes from Chief Justice Kilbride:

  1. He switched from a BlackBerry to an iPhone 4S (yesterday)
  2. Yellow page ads worked great for him (though he admits this was pre-2000)
  3. Make your clients happy; then ask them to refer their friends and family
  4. A law office in a prominent location may not be a good thing (some people want anonymity when seeing a lawyer)
  5. Some people correctly say he is "all screwed up" (he required 36 screws for injuries suffered in a biking accident)

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