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Tips for the Final Days Before the Bar Exam

Posted on July 20, 2017 by Sara Anderson

The July 2017 bar exam is fast approaching, and this season’s test-takers are no doubt feeling the anxiety and stress that comes with it. We asked our members and followers on Twitter to share with us their best tips for tackling the final days leading up to the bar exam. Below is some of our favorite advice:

Law Firm Hiring and the Tyranny of Elite Credentials

Posted on July 19, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

Corporate America has taken steps to create a more diverse workforce at all levels. Companies like Microsoft have executives who focus on developing and fostering a diverse environment. Women and people of color are increasingly seen in managerial and executive-level roles.

And yet the legal profession has lagged behind. Professor William Henderson of Indiana University's Maurer School of Law has looked at how to improve diversity in the profession and the benefits of doing so.

Henderson published the results of his research in a 2016 paper entitled "Solving the Legal Profession's Diversity Problem" ( Henderson, who recently spoke at the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism's The Future Is Now: Legal Services 2.017 conference in Chicago, suggests that the profession's lack of diversity is a system failure rather than a lack of moral resolve.

Henderson's research indicates that law firms have put a disproportionate emphasis on academic credentials. He cites research and his own experience with internal law firm studies for the proposition that "attendance at an elite law school is seldom a marker of future success and often a slight negative predictor."

A better indicator for success than which law school attorneys attend is whether they had access to mentoring and feedback at the beginning of their career, he says. Find out more in the July Illinois Bar Journal.

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Owners as Businesspersons

Posted on July 19, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am the owner of a six-attorney elder law firm in Dallas. I manage the firm and practice law. I am finding it more and more difficult to do both. I would like to shift my time totally to managing the practice. I would appreciate your thoughts.       

A. You are not alone. This is a common problem in law and other professional service firms. I have similar problems in my own firm — it is very difficult to serve two masters — serving your clients and managing your firm. Eventually you have to pick one — client service (doing legal work) or managing and running your business — as the area that receives your primary focus. This is not to say that you should not do both — but you select the primary area that you are going to focus on and get help with the other area.

A question that I typically ask my new law firm clients is, “What do you want to be: A business person or a lawyer?” The answer to the question often provides a hint to how you should structure your firm. If you want to be more of a business person, hire legal talent to help with serving clients and performing legal work and spend more time working on your firm rather than in it. If you want to be a lawyer and do legal work and serve clients, hire a legal administrator or business manager (this is more than an office manager) to manage and run your firm.

Add an Article to Your IllinoisLawyerFinder Profile

Posted on July 18, 2017 by Sara Anderson

IllinoisLawyerFinder, our free public-facing member directory, is an opportunity to connect with and attract potential clients. To make the most of your online presence, you can use your profile to tell your story and let the public know who you are and why you should handle their legal matters. After you have customized your bio, updated your work history, and uploaded a professional headshot, you can further enhance your profile by posting an article. Get started by watching this quick how-to video. 


Build A Practice with Practice HQ

Posted on July 18, 2017 by Sara Anderson

We recently launched our new member benefit, Practice HQ. Organized by the lifecycle of a law practice, this one-stop microsite houses together high-quality practice information in one place.

As a lawyer at a small firm — or perhaps someone who recently opened your own practice — there is a lot to think about when it comes to growing your practice. Clients are what keep us in business, and in today's competitive legal market, it is important to have the tools to market your practice to find new business and cultivate long-term, meaningful relationships with clients, while also providing the valuable services that retain them. For members who are focused on finding leads and converting them into clients, Practice HQ offers many resources to help you build a practice

CLE: Title VII Now Covers Sexual Orientation – The Law That Made History (Live Webcast)

Posted on July 18, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Learn about the groundbreaking case that has changed the labor and employment landscape and what it means for your clients! In an en banc opinion, the 7th Circuit has now added sexual orientation as a protected class under Title VII, making this a ruling that may or may not create a sea of change in anti-discrimination laws and the law, in general, as it relates to sexual orientation. Join us via the Internet on September 13, 2017 to get the information you need to advise your clients on this timely topic, including: how the legal landscape of discrimination claims may be affected; who will be effected by this ruling; Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College and the history behind the ruling; and how the rest of the circuit courts across the country view this ruling.

The seminar is presented by the ISBA Labor & Employment Law Section and qualifies for 2.0 hours MCLE credit.

Click here for more information and to register.

Hon. Craig H. DeArmond Assigned as Appellate Court Justice in the Fourth Judicial District

Posted on July 17, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Hon. Craig H. DeArmond, Chief Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, has been assigned as an Appellate Court Justice in the Fourth Judicial District. The assignment  takes effect on September 1, 2017, and will continue until further order of the Court.

"I am pleased to announce the assignment of Judge Craig DeArmond to the Fourth District Appellate Court. Judge DeArmond has many years of experience that have amply prepared him for the work of the appellate court," Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita B. Garman said. "His background includes eight years as Vermilion County State’s Attorney and several years in private practice representing criminal defendants and clients in civil matters. He was elected in 2015 to serve as Chief Judge in the Fifth Judicial Circuit. Judge DeArmond has served on the Supreme Court Committee on Education for several years and is a frequent presenter at judicial education programs. He will make a fine addition to the appellate court."

Omit That Oxford Comma at Your Peril

Posted on July 12, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

Democrats and Republicans. Cubs fans and Cards (or White Sox) fans. Oxford comma devotees and detractors. Is that how it is in your workplace?

Well, score one for the Oxford comma contingent. As Rex Gradeless put it in the May issue of The Public Servant, newsletter of the ISBA Government Lawyers Committee, a "recent federal appellate court decision may put the cost of a single missing comma at $10 million." Gradeless reminds us that the Oxford comma is "placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually 'and' or 'or') in a series of three or more terms. For example, a list of three Illinois counties might be punctuated either as 'Hardin, Pope, and Calhoun' (with the Oxford comma), or as 'Hardin, Pope and Calhoun' (without the Oxford comma)."

In the case in question, Maine truck farmers argued that they were included in a statute requiring overtime payments, while the Oakhurst Dairy argued they were excluded. The overtime statute excluded employees involved in "[t]he canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of [food products]."

Best Practice Tips: Small Law Firm Retreat

Posted on July 12, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. Our law firm is a 16-attorney intellectual property firm in Tampa, Florida. We have 10 partners and six associates. I am a member of our three-member executive committee and I have been given charge of looking into the pros and cons of having a firm retreat with all of our partners and associates. We have not had a retreat before and we would like your thoughts concerning the benefits that a small firm can receive from a retreat.

ISBA Files Complaint to Enjoin IDFPR Prosecution of Lawyers

Posted on July 11, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

On July 11, 2017, the Illinois State Bar Association filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County to enjoin the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (“IDFPR”) from prosecuting Illinois licensed lawyers for submitting information about property values in advocating on behalf of clients in real estate tax assessment proceedings.

In April, the IDFPR initiated administrative prosecutions of two Illinois licensed lawyers, alleging that in separate proceedings each had engaged in the unlicensed practice of real estate appraisal. The lawyers had filed briefs with the Property Tax Appeals Board and the DuPage County Board of Review, respectively, advocating a reduction in the assessed value of their clients’ property. Neither lawyer purported to submit an appraisal or act as an appraiser. The IDFPR’s administrative complaints sought “cease and desist” orders against the two lawyers as well as civil penalties not to exceed $25,000 per violation. 

"Arguments based on property valuation are common in many legal fields and have long been typical of real estate tax assessment practice," said Thomas McNulty of Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP, who along with Steven Pflaum is representing the ISBA in this case. "The ISBA believes that making such arguments on behalf of clients clearly constitutes the practice of law, does not entail the submission of an appraisal, and is well beyond the authority of the IDFPR to regulate."