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Illinois' grandparent visitation statute: still unconstitutional after all these years?

Posted on September 8, 2011 by Mark S. Mathewson

In the landmark 2002 decision Wickham v. Byrne, the state supreme court struck down Illinois' grandparent visitation statute, holding that the right of a fit parent to make decisions about his or her children can't be compromised unless a child's health, safety, or welfare is at risk. Effective January 1, 2005, the General Assembly amended the statute in response to Wickham.

But in the latest ISBA Family Law newsletter, Morris Lane Harvey questions whether the statute really cured the infirmities identified in Wickham. And he goes further, arguing that Wickham "raises...a serious question as to whether any grandparent visitation statute can ever pass substantive due process muster in the face of what appears to be the constitutionally conclusive presumption that a fit parent has a fundamental right to control, inter alia, access by others to his child." Read his provocative argument.

Share your memories of Sept. 11, 2011

Posted on September 8, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

The 10th anniversary of 9-11 is a reminder of how fragile and precious life can be.  It brought out the best in us as a nation, as we entered a new era marked by national pride and self-sacrifice.

Members of Congress sang “God Bless America” on the steps of the Capitol while young people signed up for the military, knowing they would probably be sent to a war zone. ISBA lawyers with a military background stepped forward to form the Committee on Military Affairs and trained other members so they could provide needed legal services, often pro bono, to members of the military and their families. 

How ISBA lawyers choose to commemorate 9-11 is, of course, a personal matter. Some will remember the day by supporting a cause, volunteering or performing an act of kindness.  Others will commemorate the tragedy through discussions and actions year-round. Still others will carry the memory privately in their hearts and prayers.

What are your thoughts and reflections as we remember this major turning point in all our lives? I invite you to post comments below. 


John G. Locallo, ISBA President

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.