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Illinois Supreme Court announces 2nd District mentoring program for new attorneys

Posted on October 19, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is teaming up with the Du-Page County Bar Association, Northern Illinois University College of Law and other legal organizations in the Second Judicial District to begin a mentoring program for newly admitted lawyers.

The announcement 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 practical 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 promote principles that guide them toward professionalism.

Doctor data back online in Illinois

Posted on October 19, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

A database that lets Illinois consumers check the malpractice history of thousands of Illinois doctors and chiropractors went back online today. The database was taken offline last year after the Illinois Supreme Court declared a medical malpractice reform law unconstitutional.

The searchable database includes about 46,000 doctors and 4,500 chiropractors, along with malpractice judgments and settlements going back five years.

Click here to access the database

Best Practice: Law firm leadership: How do we get started?

Posted on October 19, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the managing partner of a 24 attorney firm in San Francisco. We are becoming frustrated at our inability to achieve a consensus and make timely decisions on matters of firm policy, strategy, marketing, and management. We are missing out on opportunities. We have no management scheme and no one to lead the charge -- no team effort. The attorneys can't decide anything and firm management is a free for all. Things don't get done because no one is responsible. Conflict exists because anyone may be in charge. We are strong on ideas but weak on implementation. We lack leadership and focus. What are your ideas regarding leadership? Where should we start?

A. This is a common in firms of all sizes. In general, the foundation of leadership is built upon exhibited behaviors illustrating a proven track record of trust, respect, and accountability. These are the building blocks required for the development of leadership practices. Without these building blocks leadership cannot exist or be developed. The law firm culture must be nourished in such a way as to support these behaviors. These behaviors must become a part of everyday practice in dealing with clients as well as partners and others within and outside of the law firm. Law firm leaders must develop and practice the following behaviors:

State's attorney Yoder appointed to associate judgeship in 11th Circuit

Posted on October 19, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced that William A. Yoder received a majority of the votes cast by the circuit judges in the 11th Judicial Circuit and is declared to be appointed to the office of associate judge.

Mr. Yoder received his undergraduate degree in 1982 from Purdue University and his Juris Doctor in 1985 from John Marshall Law School. Mr. Yoder is currently affiliated with the McLean County State's Attorney's Office in Bloomington.

Reinstating the pick-off move for class certifications

Posted on October 18, 2011 by Mark S. Mathewson

The pick-off move isn't limited to baseball, as Hon. James Fitzgerald Smith and Sonja Dimitrijevic explain in the latest issue of the ISBA's Trial Briefs newsletter.

In class action cases, defendants "pick off" a class representative by tendering him or her complete relief before the class is certified. That moots the class action and "compel[s] plaintiff’s counsel to seek another class representative, which is frequently tricky," the authors observe.

Appellate courts, not fans of the move, developed a pick-off exception that allowed the class to be certified despite the tender. But the supreme court put a stop to that this year in Barber v. American Airlines, "explicitly rejecting the 'pick off' exception" and reaffirming "the 'pick off' rule, under which a tender prior to certification automatically results in the mooting of the class action," Smith and Dimitrijevic write.

They go on to discuss Gatreaux v. DKW Enterprises, LLC, a first district case from last month that implements the Barber pick-off rule. Read their analysis.

Federal Courts have opening for Pro Se Law Clerk in Southern Illinois

Posted on October 17, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Position: Pro Se Law Clerk, Temporary
Vacancy Announcement Number: 2011-06
Location: East St. Louis, Illinois
Starting Salary Range: $47,448 (JSP 9/1) to $96,690 (JSP 14/1), depending on qualifications
Date Posted: October 13, 2011
Closing Date: November 4, 2011

Position Summary
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois is seeking a full-time temporary Pro Se Law Clerk for the East St. Louis and Benton courthouses. This temporary position is for a 2 year term. The Pro Se Law Clerk provides legal advice and assistance to the court in connection with prisoner petitions and complaints.

Illinois Bar Foundation to honor Newton Minow at 2011 Gala

Posted on October 13, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Newton MinowThe Illinois Bar Foundation will honor former FCC Chair and longtime Sidley Austin managing partner Newton Minow as the 2011 Recipient of the Distinguished Award for Excellence.

The 2011 Gala will be held on Friday, Oct. 14, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago. Raffle tickets are available now at for the following great prizes:

First Prize: Barcelona's Paradise -- Trip for two to Barcelona, Spain, for 7 days and 6 nights at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Arts Barcelona with economy class air. $8,000 value.

Second Prize: Broadway Bound -- Trip for two to New York, NY, for 4 days and 3 nights at the Plaza, including the Silver Entertainment Package (Broadway show of your choice), daily complimentary breakfast and economy class air. $5,100 value.

Third Prize: $2,500 Cash

To purchase tickets to this event or become an event sponsor, contact the IBF at (312) 726-6072 or visit


Creating practice-ready lawyers

Posted on October 12, 2011 by Mark S. Mathewson

Tim Storm reveals the dark and dirty truth in the first paragraph of his column in the latest General Practice, Solo & Small Firm newsletter.

"I remember a moment during a session of my bar review course many years ago. The instructor paused in the midst of his lecture, turned to the audience of recent law school graduates and asked: 'Don’t you hope that new doctors know more about practicing medicine than you know about practicing law?' The wave of nervous laughter sweeping the room showed that the others were thinking just what I was."

Law schools -- most of them -- teach graduates how to "think like lawyers" but not how to be lawyers. Immediately after law school comes the bar review, closely followed by the bar exam. "Most everyone else in the [review course] knew that they, too, had no business being unleashed on the public as full-fledged attorneys," Storm writes. "And yet that was exactly what was about to happen for the 80 percent or so of us who would pass the bar."

We've lived with this approach for decades. What's different now? "The proportion of new graduates who will hang out their own shingles continues to grow," Storm writes. He sympathizes with them, and with the "judges, other attorneys, and clients who may encounter those who hold the same license to practice as the rest of us, but who have never been fully socialized into the practice of the learned profession."

What is to be done? Read Storm's insights and suggestions.


Blackhawks make ticket offer for ISBA members

Posted on October 12, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

The Chicago Blackhawks have made tickets available to ISBA members for Monday, Oct. 31, when the Hawks face off against the Nashville Predators.

Click Here for Tickets

Offer Code: Hawks

Best Practice: Controlling cost and managing overhead in the law firm

Posted on October 12, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

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

Q. As the administrator of our 17 attorney law firm, I am charged with the responsbility of managing and controlling costs. Our management committee is always complaining about our overhead - and then looking to me for solutions - with the focus usually on cost reduction. Do you have any recommendations?

A. I am often asked to help law firms design and implement profitability improvement programs. In most of my engagements the real problem is insufficient gross income and lack of sufficient investment (spending and time) on marketing and initiatives designed to stimulate client and revenue growth. For most firms increasing revenues is the most effective way of impacting the bottom line. However, we do find that there is waste and unnecessary overhead that eats away at profits and a cost control program is also recommended and implemented. During recessionary times such as we are currently facing – drastic cost controls are often the only option. Reducing overhead can immediately and effectively improve a firm’s bottom line.

The first step in an expense control program is to identify those areas where potential savings exist. Review your profit and loss statement. Resist the temptation to arbitrarily cutting costs which could cut the muscle with the fat and result in revenue loss as well. You have to spend money to make money – so if cost cutting is the appropriate strategy – cut the right costs. Think strategically about cost reduction.

After you have identified areas where savings can be made prioritize and develop specific strategies and implement action plans to achieve the savings.

 Here are a few ideas: