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Best Practice: Increasing law firm profitability: Using metrics and measurements to focus performance

Posted on September 7, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm does mostly flat fee work. I am the sole owner of the firm and am considering hiring my first associate. Each of us work as a team and do a lot of cross-over work on all client/matters. I have two paralegals. We don't keep timesheets on our flat fee cases. Do you have any suggestions as to how to proceed with the hiring of this associate?

A.  It sounds like your firm is reluctantly approaching the next step in its growth. Adding your first associate will change the dynamics of your firm and will require you begin to implement more formal approaches to performance management for all members of your team - the new associate, your staff, and yourself. I would start by thinking through the exact tasks and roles that you would like the associate and other staff members to perform. In other words define the associate position. Do to expect the associate to bring in business? Are you willing to train a new associate without experience or are you looking for someone with experience. Can you structure work so there is less crossover of team members on files? If not, how are you going to measure their performance and production? (Time, their production fee dollars, file or case counts, etc.) Are you going to incorporate a variable pay or incentive bonus component into the compensation plan for the associate as well as the other staff members? (More firms are doing this) Define the position first and then decide on the "whom".

ISBA members get 30% off for 30 days by signing up for FedEx Office

Posted on September 7, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

It’s now even easier for you to save time and money with FedEx. As a member of ISBA, you are eligible to receive special savings of up to 20% off select FedEx Office copy and print services and 10% off other services at more than 1,800 locations nationwide.

Plus, for a limited time, take advantage of the 30 for 30 offer from FedEx Office!  Enroll in the ISBA FedEx Office discount program between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30 and receive additional savings of up to 30% on select copy and print services for 30 days upon sign-up.*

Click here and enter passcode 4JHFN9 to enroll online. If you have additional questions, call 1-800-MEMBERS (1.800.636.2377, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. EST, M-F).

*Click here for terms & conditions.

Justinian Society to honor ISBA President Locallo and Appellate Justice Schostok

Posted on September 6, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

John G. LocalloThe Justinian Society of Lawyers will honor ISBA President John G. Locallo and Appellate Justice Mary Seminara Schostok at its annual Installation and Awards Dinner on Thursday, Sept. 22. The evening begins with cocktails at 5:30 and continues with dinner at 6:30 and will be held at the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe.

President Locallo will receive the prestigious Award of Excellence. This award is given to an individual who has proven leadership and has improved the condition and image of Italian Americans.

Justice Schostok will receive the Helen M. Cerise Award of Recognition. This award is named after the first female Italian-American Lawyer in Illinois, and one of the youngest and most accomplished women of her time.

Katherine Amari O’Dell was formally sworn-in as the new President of the Justinian Society in May and will be ceremonially sworn-in at this event.

For more information, call (708) 338-0760 or visit

Advance Directives

Posted on September 2, 2011 by James R. Covington

The Illinois Department of Public Health's website has a page dedicated to advance directives that has a Spanish option as well. You may find that page here.

Dell offers ISBA members back-to-school deals

Posted on September 1, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Fall is just around the corner and school is starting up, but it’s not too late to get a great offer on PC’s that ship in time for back to school. Attached is the September flyer for ISBA Members to take advantage of Dell's closing deals for the summer. 

Highlights of this month’s offers include: 

  • Dell Inspiron 14z 1-inch thin laptop for $749.99
  • Last month for the Free Xbox when you purchase a Dell PC for $699 or more.
  • $50 off coupon for select systems $699 or more.
  • Dell Inspiron One 2305 (Touch Screen Desktop) for $649.99

These deals can be accessed by:

ISBA Statehouse Review for the week of Sept. 1

Posted on September 1, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Melinda Bentley, ISBA First Assistant Counsel & Assistant Director of Legislative Affairs, reviews three bills of significance signed by Gov. Quinn in the last week. She takes a look at Transfer on Death Instrument (PA 97-555), FOIA and "Recurrent Requesters" (PA 97-579) and Maintenance and Life Insurance (PA 97-608).

New law limits the number of petitions for judicial candidates

Posted on September 1, 2011 by James R. Covington

A new law in effect limits the number of petitions for judicial candidates. Public Act 97-81 states as follows:  

“A candidate in a judicial election may file petitions for nomination for only one vacancy in a subcircuit and only one vacancy in a circuit in any one filing period, and if petitions for nomination have been filed for the same person for 2 or more vacancies in the same circuit or subcircuit in the same filing period, his or her name shall be certified only for the first vacancy for which the petitions for nomination were filed.”  

The State Board of Elections will accept for filing and process only one petition for a circuit vacancy and/or only one petition for a subcircuit vacancy in any filing period.  PA 97-81 did not change existing law regarding candidates filing for other multiple incompatible offices.  

Please refer to the judicial candidate filing and multiple office filing information in the State Board of Elections’ 2012 Candidate’s Guide ( for further guidance.  The 2012 Candidate’s Guide contains important information as to these topics and the State Board of Elections’ policies on judicial filings.  The State Board of Elections’ policy on judicial filings can be seen here.

Legal Tech: What does Google consider high quality for ranking purposes?

Posted on September 1, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

By Peter LaSorsa

Months ago I wrote an article in this publication about the new Google algorithm called Panda. Google has a webpage devoted to questions about Panda and how the average person can tweak their website content to allow for better rankings. The Google article is located here. Below are a few of the more important things to consider for improving your rankings but I would suggest reading the Google article and coming up with a more robust website strategy based on the tips in the article.

Here is a list of the top five questions the algorithm asks (chosen from my own personal preference).

Illinois estate planning in uncertain times

Posted on August 31, 2011 by Mark S. Mathewson

What happens in 2013, when the federal estate tax exclusion goes back to $1 million if Congress does nothing? What are the implications of the decoupling of Illinois' estate tax from the federal exclusion, so that any taxable estate over $2 million generates Illinois estate tax?

Steven E. Siebers's article in the September Illinois Bar Journal explores these and other questions and helps you advise estate-planning clients, especially married couples, in these uncertain times.

ISBA leaders attend judicial merit selection conference

Posted on August 31, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA President-elect John E. Thies (left) and ISBA President John G. Locallo spoke with retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at the National Summit on Defending Merit Selection held earlier this week in St. Louis.ISBA President John G. Locallo and ISBA President-elect John E. Thies attended the National Summit on Defending Merit Selection earlier this week in St. Louis. The ISBA has been on record in support of the merit selection of judges since 1987.

The purpose of this conference was for bar leaders from around the country to meet and discuss strategies for advancing and preserving merit selection of judges in their respective states as a way to keep politics out of the courtroom. Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the keynote speaker, and attended one of the plenary sessions.