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Court Rule Change on Unidentified IOLTA Funds Raises Over $1 Million for Legal Aid

Posted on April 17, 2017 by Sara Anderson

A recent change to the rule governing how lawyers deal with unidentified funds in their pooled client trust accounts has generated over $1,000,000 for legal aid in Illinois.

In March 2015, the Supreme Court of Illinois amended Rule 1.15 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct to require Illinois lawyers to remit unidentified funds in these client trust accounts to the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois after a 12-month due diligence process to determine who owns the funds. Since the new rule went into effect on July 1, 2015, the Lawyers Trust Fund (LTF) has received $1,007,829.21.

“For the 1.8 million Illinoisans living in poverty, legal aid is the only realistic option when confronted with a serious legal problem,” said LTF executive director Mark Marquardt. “Unfortunately, legal aid groups are facing serious financial headwinds in terms of both state and federal funding, which make this new source of revenue even more critical.”

Joint Secretary of State and Supreme Court Restoration Project of Illinois Attorney Oaths Complete

Posted on April 13, 2017 by Sara Anderson

A long-term restoration project between the Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office and the Supreme Court of Illinois has led to the discovery of some rare, historic documents involving famous and infamous Illinois attorneys.

“I am pleased with the results of this project, which sought to restore and preserve a unique facet of our state’s history,” said White, who also serves as State Archivist. “Since 2010, the State Archives Department has been restoring attorney oaths for the Supreme Court. Approximately 142,000 oaths, some preceding the Civil War, have been restored.”

Justice Rita Garman with Archives’ conservator Alex Dixon examine a restored oath.Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier said, “The Court recently had the opportunity to tour the State Archives and see, firsthand, the efforts being made there to conserve these important documents. Attorney oaths offer scholars, educators and students a very tangible, but very fragile connection to the lawyers who have helped shape our laws and the legal profession over the past two centuries. The Court is extremely grateful to the Archives for everything it has done to ensure that this irreplaceable record of the legal profession’s history is preserved and protected for future generations. The work done by the Archives’ staff has been nothing less than extraordinary.”

The Basics of Student Discipline Reform Under SB 100

Posted on April 12, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Latasha Barnes of Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. provides an overview of student discipline reform under Senate Bill 100.

To learn more about SB 100 and student discipline, A Changing Landscape: Student Discipline 2016 is available online.

Best Practice Tips: Client and Management Transition in a Larger Law Firm

Posted on April 12, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am a member of the executive committee of a 75-attorney firm in Houston, Texas. We are a first-generation firm. Several of our founders are in their 60s and we have recently begun discussing succession planning and how clients and management duties will be transitioned. We would appreciate your thoughts in these areas.

A. In larger firms, clients are more likely to be large, sophisticated clients, possibly Fortune 500 companies, which refer many matters to the firm during the course of a year. Often such clients may be both a blessing and a curse for the firm. A blessing in that their business provides the firm with huge legal fees during the course of a year. A curse in that their business represents a large percent of the firm’s annual fee collections and a significant business risk if the firm were to lose the client. An effective client transition is critical, takes time, and must be well planned.

Successful client transition – moving clients from one generation to the next – is a major challenge for larger firms. Shifting clients is not an individual responsibility but a firm responsibility. To effectively transition clients, the individual lawyer, with clients, must work together with the firm to insure the clients receive quality legal services throughout the transition process. Both the individual lawyer and the firm must be committed to keeping clients in the firm when the senior attorneys retire. Potential obstacles include:

'Airport Lawyers' and the Ethics of In-Person Solicitation

Posted on April 12, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

"This past January, many newspapers carried stories of lawyers at airports, including O'Hare, offering assistance to immigrants and their families in light of the January 17 Presidential Executive Order on immigration," ISBA General Counsel Charles Northrup writes in the April Illinois Bar Journal. "The stories were often accompanied by photos of lawyers holding up hand-written signs saying things like 'Need a Lawyer?' or 'Lawyers Here to Help.'"

As Northrup puts it, he is "burdened to view the world through the lens of legal ethics," and his first thought was, "Isn't this improper in-person solicitation?"

Northrup explains that Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 7.3, which governs in-person solicitation of clients, provides in subsection (a) that "a lawyer shall not by in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact solicit professional employment when a significant motive for the lawyer's doing so is the lawyer's pecuniary gain…."

CLE: Settlement in Federal Court Cases

Posted on April 11, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Back by popular demand! Learn the tips of the trade as several panels of federal judges, retired federal judges, and mediators share everything you need to know about settlement in the federal courts. Attorneys with all level of experience practicing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals who attend this seminar in Chicago on May 10, 2017 will gain a better understanding of: meeting the judges’ expectations for pre-settlement preparations; preparing your client for settlement; how to conduct the settlement conference, including conference procedures and techniques to help both parties come to a settlement agreement; what not to do during a settlement; how to handle settlement compliance issues and the court’s ability to enforce the settlement agreements; and the Seventh Circuit’s settlement program procedures.

The program is presented by the ISBA Federal Civil Practice Section and co-sponsored by the Seventh Circuit Bar Association. It qualifies for 3.75 hours MCLE credit, including 3.75 hours Professional Responsibility MCLE credit (subject to approval).

Click here for more information and to register.

Spotlight on Pro Bono: Use of Circle Process to Expand Access to Justice

Posted on April 11, 2017 by Sara Anderson

By Sandra Crawford, JD, Mediator, Collaborative Process Professional, Trained Circle Keeper

No matter where on this planet our ancestors hailed from, it is safe to say that at some point in history all of them sat around a fire either for heat, nourishment, storytelling, entertainment, community, support, and most likely to do some problem solving. From these ancient beginnings has grown what is now generally known as the Circle Process — a problem resolving or peacemaking model that can be used in a variety of settings for a variety of purposes. “The philosophy of Circle acknowledges that we are all in need of help and that helping others helps us at the same time." The Little Book of Circle Processes by Kay Pranis, page 6. (Hereinafter "the Little Book").

There are various types of circles. All share key elements and draw on indigenous tribal traditions mixed with contemporary concepts of democracy, inclusiveness, and multi-cultural integration. The shared key elements of all circles are: Ceremony, Guidelines, Talking Piece, Keeping/Facilitation, and Consensus/Decision Making. Briefly, the different types are:

CLE: 16th Annual Environmental Law Conference

Posted on April 6, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Don’t miss ISBA’s 16th Annual Illinois Environmental Law Conference in Chicago on May 4-5, 2017!

Once again, this two-day premier conference features annual updates on agency activities and priorities in Illinois and the Region presented by top representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. In addition, you won’t want to miss the lively two-hour professional ethics session on “Identifying and Resolving Ethical Issues Arising in Environmental Law” and a new plenary session on “Carbon-Sequestration Technology.” Attendees will also learn about the latest hot topics in environmental law from leading practitioners, including: the evolving regulation of lead in drinking water; federal, state, local, private, and non-profit sector response to the legal and political dynamics of carbon; watershed-level pollution reduction strategies; the public and private rights of Lake Michigan shores; understanding how pharmaceuticals and personal care products are contaminating the environment and the legal developments surrounding this issue; how two recent federal developments may impact the management of hazardous materials and chemicals; what to do after buying an environmentally-impacted property; the ongoing issues with “The Clean Water Rule and the “waters of the United States”; techniques to enforce the RCRA air emission standards; and much more!

ISBA Statehouse Review for the week of April 6, 2017

Posted on April 6, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers the Nursing Home Act and attorney fees, the Collaborative Process Act, child support law technical corrections, a bill affecting objections to jurisdiction, mandated child abuse or neglect reporters, an omnibus condo bill, and a bill amending the Condominium Property Act.

More information on each bill is available below the video.

Estate planners vulnerable to dormant legal malpractice claims

Posted on April 5, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

There's a six-year statute of repose for legal malpractice - unless the alleged act or omission isn't discovered until the client dies. Estate planning lawyers want more protection, and they're hoping new legislation can provide it.

Virtually all attorneys understand statutes of limitations. From the time an injury or other bad act occurs, there is a specific, defined timeframe in which a party may bring suit.

In some types of cases, the limitations period does not begin to run until an injury is discovered. In others, such as personal injury cases, the discovery rule generally does not apply - people generally know they're physically injured at the time of, or shortly after, an accident.

Statutes of repose, on the other hand, bar an action once a specific period of time has passed, regardless of whether the potential plaintiff later discovers the act or omission giving rise to the claim. In Illinois, there is a statute of repose for attorney malpractice lawsuits. The problem is that not all attorneys are protected by it.

The current law, 735 ILCS 5/13-214.3, establishes a two-year limitations period and a six-year statute of repose for legal malpractice actions. The two year limitations period incorporates the discovery rule (735 ILCS 5/13-214.3(b)), but the six-year repose period (735 ILCS 5/13-214.3(c)) prevents former clients from "discovering" malpractice well after it was allegedly committed.

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