Illinois Bar Journal

The Magazine of Illinois Lawyers

April 2016Volume 104Number 4Page 10

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President's Page

A Home Away from Home, Courtesy of ISBA Mutual

By
Umberto S. Davi

Umberto S. Davi

ISBA members can thank an old friend for a new place to use wi-fi, call clients, or just relax.

Have you visited the new Internet café and meeting space developed by the ISBA Mutual? It is conveniently located in their office, directly downstairs from the ISBA's Chicago Regional Office at 20 S. Clark Street, just blocks from the courts and government offices.

You may not find a barista, but the space features plenty of outlets, free wi-fi, a splendid view, and several miniature offices so lawyers using the location as a home away from home can comfortably make a private call in a personal space, thereby avoiding confidentiality breaches.

"So what?" you might ask. Here's why this is significant. It's a reaffirmation of a very important relationship between the ISBA Mutual, the ISBA, and over 30,000 Illinois lawyers that comprise our membership.

Those of you who are newer to the practice of law (i.e., you joined the profession in the last 28 years) may take the role played and services provided by ISBA Mutual for granted. Malpractice insurance, after all, is one of those necessary constants of being a lawyer. It's quite readily available in Illinois and won't completely break your budget. But it wasn't always that way.

Back in the 1980s, the Illinois legal community was between a rock and a hard place. There weren't many insurance companies to choose from and some would leave the state suddenly, leaving lawyers scrambling for coverage. Malpractice premiums were nearly tripling each year and insurers were not providing bar leaders a rational explanation for it. The state of malpractice insurance had become so bad that many attorneys simply chose not to obtain it, which placed the public and legal community at risk.

In response to these concerns, ISBA leadership formed a committee to investigate starting a new insurance company that would prioritize the interests of the legal community and public ahead of profits.

In 1988 ISBA Mutual was officially launched. They offered premiums that were one-third less than those of existing insurers. Shortly thereafter, other Illinois insurance companies lowered their premiums to compete with a company that put the needs of ISBA members first.

Forming the ISBA Mutual is one of the ISBA's proudest accomplishments - an effort by visionaries that ensured we would always have stable and affordable malpractice coverage in Illinois. They decided to be a different kind of insurance company: one that puts the needs of our members first; one that focuses on educating lawyers to prevent the mistakes that can later lead to malpractice claims; one that strives to be an extension of the Illinois State Bar Association in helping members become better lawyers and better serve clients.

As lawyers we buy malpractice insurance to protect our clients. No matter how many CLE courses we attend or how conscientious we are, there is always the possibility of making a mistake, and we do not want our clients to suffer as a result. We secure malpractice insurance because it's the right thing to do.

That is a brief history behind the partnership of the ISBA Mutual and Illinois lawyers like you and me. It's why the ISBA Mutual sponsors so many excellent programs like our complimentary online CLE, the Solo and Small Firm Practice Institutes, Fastcase, and so much more. Such important member benefits are invaluable to us as members of the Illinois bar.

There is a reason ISBA Mutual opens its doors and provides a complimentary workspace for ISBA members to take care of business between court appearances or meetings in the city. It's the same reason they offer meeting rooms as an additional space for the CLE sessions that help us excel in our practices. It was formed by Illinois lawyers for the benefit of Illinois lawyers.