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The Magazine of Illinois Lawyers

September 2017Volume 105Number 9Page 10

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President's Page

Succession Planning Tops a Busy 2017-18 Agenda

Special committees on succession planning, the future of the profession, and gun violence will be among the groups shaping the ISBA agenda this bar year.

Hon. Russell W. Hartigan

Every ISBA president, usually a year or so before being sworn in, formulates programs to focus on for his or her term. Members expect this and will ask about your plans, and you generally announce them at your presidential installation. Here is a brief synopsis of mine.

Special Committee on Succession and Transition Planning. A very diverse and energetic committee led by John Phipps of Champaign is compiling guidelines to help lawyers, especially sole practitioners, who suddenly become disabled. This recently happened to two Berwyn lawyers who are friends of mine. Their spouses had no guidance about what to do with their practices in the wake of the lawyers' disability.

The Iowa Supreme Court requires sole practitioners to "designate[] another competent lawyer to review client files, notify each client of the lawyer's death or disability, and determine whether there is a need for immediate protective action." We should look to that example and review other states' rules and programs for good ideas about transition planning.

The committee will also look for ways to help young lawyers launch their careers, with an emphasis on law practice management information and training. The committee's report will be disseminated to the Illinois Supreme Court for review and consideration, and the group will consult and communicate with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

Futures committee. Chicago lawyer Tim Moran will continue as chair of the Standing Committee on the Future of Legal Services, which among other things will study the impact of technology (especially Avvo, Legal Zoom, and the like) on the delivery of legal services. A lead generation proposal continues to be reviewed, especially as certain forms of allowable online lawyer advertising may violate longstanding ethical prohibitions on fee sharing with nonlawyers as well as other ethical requirements. (See LawPulse on page 12 for more.)

We are walking a fine line in this confused and growing area. Direction is certainly needed.

Gun violence committee. The ISBA Special Committee on Gun Violence, ably led by former ISBA President Cheryl Niro, has met and is developing a mission statement and a multidisciplinary approach involving education, community involvement and outreach, and mental health, job, and technical-skills training. Also, I spoke about this project with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and she graciously offered the assistance of her office to our committee's effort.

This has personal appeal to me since I was born in Chicago's Austin neighborhood and my father attended Austin High School in what is now one of the most violent areas in the city. Certainly halting the flow of illegal guns into Illinois, revisiting inappropriately harsh penalties, and mentoring at-risk youths should be encouraged.

We recognize this is a statewide problem that affects Peoria, East St. Louis, Rockford, Springfield, and other metro areas beyond Chicago. We cannot accept this level of violence. We have heard the statistics in Chicago - more than 2,000 people were shot, 360-plus fatally, between the start of 2017 and the writing of this column, and the carnage continues. Without the benefit of parental nurturing and early education, young people who have been neglected at home and school often develop intellectual and emotional disorders that limit their capacity to regulate their feelings. They don't foresee a viable future. The American and Chicago Bar Associations are also addressing this timely topic.

Membership committee. Ably chaired by former Board of Governors member Daniel Saeedi of Chicago, the ISBA Committee on Membership Strategy will help develop ideas for recruiting and retaining members in a challenging environment for voluntary bar associations.

IllinoisLawyerFinder and Practice HQ. The IllinoisLawyerFinder is our new members-only public-facing directory that enables potential clients to find lawyers listed there. All active ISBA lawyer members except judges and government lawyers are automatically listed on IllinoisLawyerFinder. For information about how to update and enhance your free profile, visit www.isba.org/directory.

Practice HQ is the ISBA's one-stop microsite for practice management and technology information, including checklists, training videos, and more. It is organized around the lifecycle of a law practice from opening to building a book of business to management and technology to retirement. You'll find it at www.isba.org/practicehq.

Privacy and Information Security Section. ISBA just launched this new section, which will be a comprehensive resource for lawyers who practice in or are interested in the privacy and information security law. Membership for the first year is free. To join, go to www.isba.org/sections/privacyandsecurity.

As you can see, we have a busy year ahead. Stay tuned for more developments.