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In “Eligible” IOLTAs We Trust

Posted on September 22, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

By Joseph R. Marconi[1]

Effective September 1, 2011, the Illinois Supreme Court has amended Rule 1.15 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct respecting the safekeeping of client funds deposited in trust accounts. As professional fiduciaries, attorneys have long been required to keep their clients’ funds separate from their own. Now, the Supreme Court has limited the options for accounts to hold client funds, imposed new record keeping requirements on attorneys, and now requires banks to notify the ARDC when client accounts are overdrawn.

Specifically, Rule 1.15(a) limits the type of accounts in which client funds can be deposited to two kinds. The first is an Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA).  IOLTAs are pooled trust accounts that bear interest or dividends on nominal or short-term client funds—those funds advanced for costs or which belong in part to a client and “presently or potentially” to the lawyer.  The interest or dividends is paid to the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois (LTF) which donates the funds to organizations providing legal services to the poor.[2] An attorney or law firm can establish an IOLTA account by:

ISBA members now receive travel and entertainment discounts

Posted on September 22, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

The TicketsAtWork Corporate Benefit Program offers Illinois State Bar Association members exclusive travel and entertainment discounts. There are over 400 regional and Nationwide offers that are not available to the general public, ranging from Las Vegas shows to Disney tickets. In Illinois, the discounts range from Blue Man Group in Chicago to LegoLand in Schamburg.

Check out the discounts at www.ticketsatwork.com/tickets/?company=ISBA%20

"The partner of the first part": civil unions and real estate documents

Posted on September 21, 2011 by Mark S. Mathewson

Divorce lawyers aren't the only ones still sorting out the civil union law. Not by a long shot.

Take real estate lawyers, for example. In the latest ISBA Real Property newsletter, Dick Bales poses just a few of the questions they face. "How should parties to a civil union be described in deeds and other documents? How should the issue of homestead be addressed in these documents? Can parties to a civil union own their home as tenants by the entirety, and if so, how should they be described in the deed?"

Read his article.

Best Practice: Law firm strategic or long-range plans - Why does a small firm need one?

Posted on September 21, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I have a small firm in Indianapolis. I am the only attorney in the firm and I have three staff members. I have been in practice for 30 years. I have been reading your posts on strategic planning. Why do I need one for a small practice such as mine?

A. A strategic or long range plan serves as the roadmap for your practice. When you go on vacation do you head out without a map, plan or your GPS. Probably not. The same should be true for your practice. A plan defines who you are, where the firm should be heading, and how you get there. It helps focus you as well as your staff and improves productivity, accountability, and alignment with your goals. It identifies what work your firm does (or sometimes more importantly) what it does not do. In essence it outlines what services your are selling, to who, and where. Your plan then lists out the steps you should be taking to move to your desired future.

I have seen solo practitioners time after time reach their 60s and realize that if they had it all to do over again they would do things differently. Often they have completely failed to put in place solid succession strategy and realize no value for their sweat equity when they retire. A plan or roadmap can help direct your efforts over the years.

The important thing is to it keep your plan simple and update it often. Ten pages or less - in outline form. I have seen excellent one page plans. When circumstances change - change it. Review it every month.

Click here for our blog on law firm strategy

Mental Health programs to air on Illinois Law in October

Posted on September 20, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

"Mental Health Concerns in the Juvenile Court" and "School Advocacy for Children with Mental Health Concerns" two half-hour programs presented by Illinois Law, will air on Chicago Access Network Television, Channel 21 in Chicago, during the month of October. "Mental Health Concerns in the Juvenile Court" will air at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, October 4 and 18, and "School Advocacy for Children with Mental Health Concerns" will air at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, October 11 and 25. Illinois Law is a cable production of the Illinois State Bar Association.

Appearing on the shows are Nancy Z. Hablutzel (front), a Chicago lawyer and program moderator; and (from left) Bernard Glos, Ph.D., of Westmont; Joseph T. Monahan, of Monahan & Cohen in Chicago and a member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Mental Health Law; and Phil Milsk, Law Offices of Phil Milsk in New Lenox and a member of the ISBA Education Law Section Council.

View previous programs online at iln.isba.org/blog/illinois-law-video

Lawyers' Assistance Program to sponsor retreat for eating disorders and better health

Posted on September 19, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Lawyers' Assistance Program will sponsor a 24-hour retreat for eating disorders and better health on Oct. 28-29 at The Center in Palos Park. The program will begin at 5 p.m. on Friday evening and end at 5 p.m. on Saturday and will focus on healty eating, compulsive eating and the causes for behaviors related to food.

Speakers will include Dr. Kimberly Dennis, a Chicago-area psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders; Judge Sheila Murphy, president of Lawyers' Assistance Program; Circuit Court Judge Allen Goldberg; Wheaton attorney Brigid Duffield and event chair CJ Muller of Palos Hills.

Cost is $135 for single occupancy, $124 for double occupancy, and $65 for commuters. Space is limited. Contact Lawyers' Assistance Program at (312) 726-6607 to register or for more information.

Cell phones and eavesdropping

Posted on September 16, 2011 by James R. Covington

There has been a surge in prosecutions against citizens for recording public officials while those officials are performing public duties. The charge is a Class 1 felony for violating the Illinois Eavesdropping statute. 

You know the drill--a motorist is pulled over for a traffic stop, records the officer, the officer  gets mad and arrests the motorist for violating the officer's right to privacy under the eavesdropping law. There is usually no underlying arrest against the motorist. Or, a homeowner records an arrest from his or her bedroom window and is arrested for a Class 1 felony for doing this.

Earlier this year a downstate auto mechanic in Robinson, Illinois was charged in a five-count information for allegedly recording these public officials while they were  conducting public business in a public place: the judge, the chief of police, a police officer, a circuit clerk, and the city attorney.

Earlier this week Judge David K. Frankland filed an opinion in this Crawford County case dismissing the charges because this part of the Eavesdropping statute violated substantive due process and the First Amendment. His opinion is a crisp, clear, and concise defense of the First Amendment and due process. Click here to read it

William A. Sunderman of Charleston, Illinois represented the defendant pro bono.

ISBA Statehouse Review for the week of Sept. 15

Posted on September 15, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews bills in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers: Funding for legal services, Rules on Medicaid eligibility under Deficit Reduction Act and Senate Bill 1694 on medical records for veto session.

The Illinois Rules of Evidence: A Color-Coded Guide

Posted on September 15, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Don't be without this handy hard-copy version of Gino L. DiVito's color-coded analysis of the new Illinois Rules of Evidence, which is otherwise available only on the web. The guide compares the new Illinois rules with the FRE and provides insightful commentary. DiVito, a former appellate justice, is a member of the Special Supreme Court Committee on Illinois Evidence, the body that formulated the rules and presented them to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Published August 2011, 134 pages

Price: ISBA Member, $35; Non-member $50

Click here to purchase

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