Illinois Bar Journal

August 2015Volume 103Number 8Page 8

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President's Page

Projects and Priorities for the Year Ahead

Expanding practice opportunities for law students and offering legal forms are two items on this year's agenda.

Umberto S. DaviI used my first President's Page to thank Americans for "welcoming" my family when we emigrated from Sicily in 1964. This month, I introduce the projects our bar will undertake during my year as president.

Expanding practice opportunities for law students. I have formed a special committee, chaired by McHenry County Judge Michael Chmiel, to review Supreme Court Rule 711. This rule allows limited practice by law students, typically 3Ls, who have more than half the required credit hours for graduation.

Currently, Rule 711 requires that the student be supervised by one of three "governmental" entities: a state's attorney, a public defender, or a legal aid office. The committee will explore the feasibility of expanding the Rule's scope to permit private practitioners to afford the same opportunity to students. That way, even more prospective attorneys can get much needed real-world experience while also earning law school credit.

Limited license legal technicians. Recently, the Washington Supreme Court authorized limited license legal technicians (LLLTs), who can advise and assist clients in many ways short of representing them in court. Some liken them to nurse practitioners in the medical profession. A few other states are poised to follow suit. Attendees of the June 2015 ISBA Assembly meeting heard a presentation on the subject by Paula C. Littlewood, executive director of the Washington State Bar Association, and Steve Crossland, chair of the Washington Supreme Court LLLT Board.

Continuing an effort begun by Immediate Past President Rick Felice, a special task force chaired by Timothy E. Moran of Chicago has been formed to study the implications of LLLTs for practicing lawyers, consumers, and other stakeholders in the justice system. See next month's Illinois Bar Journal for more about the pros and cons of LLLTs.

Legal forms. A third initiative will focus on providing to our members a library of Illinois-specific automated legal forms in key practice areas such as family and real estate law. Like the bars of Iowa, Ohio, Nebraska, Minnesota, and other states, we will offer a low-cost set of secure, user-friendly forms that use document assembly to save time and reduce the risk of error. The cost for this endeavor was included in our 2015-16 budget and approved by the Board Budget Audit Committee, the Assembly Finance Committee, and the Assembly.

Law school debt. Justice Ann Jorgensen, chair of the Task Force on Law School Curriculum and Debt, and her committee are preparing findings and recommendations that should be ready for presentation at the 2015 ISBA Midyear Meeting in December.

Courtrooms in the classroom. I will work with Judge Robert Anderson, president of the Illinois Judges Association, to expand the "Courtrooms in the Classroom" project. In the coming year, this IJA/ISBA joint initiative will endeavor to bring civics education to adult groups such as the VFW and the Jaycees.

Solo and Small Firm Practice Institute. I will continue Rick Felice's Solo and Small Firm Practice Institute by having four separate day-long CLE seminars around the state. This year's sites are Rockford, Fairview Heights, Bloomington, and Rosemont. The Institute brings both substantive and practice management CLE to our members where they live, including presentations from LAP and the ARDC.

Headquarters renovation. We will undertake a much needed update of our historic, architecturally significant Springfield headquarters. The Illinois Bar Center, which is advantageously located between the Illinois Supreme Court and Attorney General's buildings and across the street from the Capitol complex, is in desperate need of renovation.

The Illinois Bar Center needs ADA-related upgrades, and its HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and other systems are outdated. This ambitious project is likely to take two years, and the cost will also be made part of our 2015-16 budget on a yearly pro-rata basis. It will give our Springfield office a much needed renovation and make the facility more accessible, useful, and user-friendly for our members and staff.

Stay tuned. The ISBA staff and I will also continue to promote cooperation and work on joint programs with other bar associations. Stay tuned for updates on the busy year ahead - arrivederci!

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