Two Great ISBA Member Benefits Sponsored by
ISBA Mutual Lawyers Malpractice Insurance
view counter
A Value of $1,344, Included with Membership
Free CLE
view counter
view counter

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.

Berg and Costello appointed as associate judges in 22nd Circuit

Posted on October 21, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced that the 22nd Judicial Circuit judges voted to select Joel D. Berg and Kevin G. Costello as associate judges of the 22nd Judicial Circuit.

Mr. Berg received his undergraduate degree in 1990 from Northern Illinois University and his Juris Doctor in 1994 from IIT/Chicago-Kent Law School. Mr. Berg is currently engaged in solo practice in Harvard.

Mr. Costello received his undergraduate degree in 1984 from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and his Juris Doctor in 1987 from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Costello is currently engaged in practice with Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, in Crystal Lake.

John Marshall’s Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic receives $110,000 in grants

Posted on October 21, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

The John Marshall Law School’s Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic (VLSC) has been awarded $110,000 in grants from an anonymous corporate donor to help the Clinic construct new facilities. The VLSC will move its offices into newly purchased space at the corner of Jackson and Plymouth, adjacent to the law school, beginning in the spring of 2012. 

The $110,000 in grant monies includes a $10,000 outright program grant and an additional $100,000 challenge grant, which will be awarded to the Clinic if they can raise a matching amount by October 31. 

“This significant support will allow the VLSC to work with veterans in a more dignified manner, and better accommodate the ever-increasing number of veterans seeking benefits,” said Brian Clauss, Co-Executive Director of the VLSC. “The current space in the law school requires veterans, many of them disabled, to use elevators and maneuver in cramped hallways.  The new space will feature street-level front door access and will more than double the space of the current site.” 

Founded in 2007, the Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic, is one of the nation’s first law school clinics dedicated solely to veterans issues. The Clinic’s mission is to assist veterans seeking their benefits from the Veterans Administration and to provide representation for veterans during the appeals process - through a statewide network of pro bono attorneys. The VLSC provides a clinical training experience for John Marshall law students while at the same time serving the larger needs of veterans pursuing VA claims. 

To learn more about the Veterans Legal Support Clinic or to make a donation, see

Solo and Small Firm Conference set to kick off next week in Springfield

Posted on October 20, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Solo Small Firm Conference

Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride
The Illinois State Bar Association will present the 7th Annual Solo & Small Firm Conference from Oct. 27-29 at the Springfield Hilton. Last chance to catch the Conference in Springfield before it moves to a new location! Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride will be the featured plenary speaker. Earn up to 12 hours of MCLE credit, including all 6 hours of PMCLE credit. “Get Connected” to your peers, the latest in technology, and current practice updates at this year’s Conference.

    Conference registration is online only at

    Discounted pricing until Oct. 24: $350 ISBA Member ($400 onsite) /$650 Non-Member ($700 onsite)

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

    ISBA Statehouse Review for the week of Oct. 20

    Posted on October 20, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

    ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews bills in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers: Senate Bill 2492, House Bill 1604, House Bill 3839, House Bill 3801 and House Bill 3807. Information on each bill is available below the video.