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ISBA Board approves ‘cloud computing’ ethics opinion, future-of-profession report

Posted on October 20, 2016 by Mark S. Mathewson

At its October 14 meeting, the ISBA Board of Governors adopted an ethics opinion that expressly authorizes storage of confidential client information in the cloud and approved the recommendations of the ISBA Task Force on the Future of Legal Services.

Futures report, recommendations. The Board approved the report and recommendations of the legal services task force. They now go to the ISBA Assembly, which will take them up at its December meeting. Recommendations include creating a consumer-oriented lawyer directory, providing technology and practice-management education and resources to members, and establishing a standing committee on the future of legal services.

Ethics opinions on the cloud, conflicts, of-counsel fee division. The Board approved three ethics advisory opinions, including one that specifically allows online “cloud” storage of client data. Opinion 16-06 says lawyers may use a cloud-based service to store confidential client information as long as they take reasonable care to assure its security. Opinion 16-05 says it’s not a conflict for a law firm to represent a city while a paralegal from the firm serves on the city council. Opinion 16-04 concludes that the fee-division restrictions imposed by Illinois ethics rule 1.5(e) on lawyers from different firms do not apply to “of counsel” relationships.

In other action, the Board

What’s happening with cases pending before cannabis decriminalization took effect?

Posted on October 19, 2016 by Mark S. Mathewson

How are state's attorneys and judges handling cases for possession of small amounts of cannabis that are pending after the new cannabis decriminalization law took effect?

Peoria lawyer Jeffrey R. Hall, one of the drafters of the law, summarizes his experience in the October Illinois Bar Journal.

"The issues revolve around the interpretation of the Statute on Statutes under 5 ILCS 70/4 as it applies a law that repeals or changes the sentence or punishment of a statute," Hall writes. "When a criminal case is pending while a statute is repealed or amended, one must ask whether the change to the statute was substantive (changing the elements of a crime) or procedural (changing or mitigating a sentence).

"With SB 2228's decriminalization of possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis and drug paraphernalia, the legislature made a procedural amendment by changing the severity of the sentence as well as the category of offense," Hall writes. "No longer is possession a criminal act. It is now a civil violation with 'civil fees,' since cannabis possession is still 'unlawful' for all intents and purposes."

CLE: Settlement and Severance Agreements: The Non-Pecuniary Terms – Live Webcast

Posted on October 19, 2016 by Morgan Yingst

How many times have you heard “this is a standard settlement term”? Don’t miss this online seminar on November 3, 2016 that helps you determine which non-monetary provisions you need in settlement and severance agreements … and which you can accept from opposing counsel without much fear. Practitioners with intermediate to advanced practice skills working in the litigation environment – whether as an attorney or in-house counsel – who attend this seminar will better understand: what most attorneys define as the “standard” settlement term; which provisions are a necessary component in settlement agreements; how to ensure that you’ve included all of the provisions you need; and how to avoid missing something in the settlement agreement.

Starved Rock State Park Conservation Officer presented with Law Enforcement Award

Posted on October 19, 2016 by Morgan Yingst

Illinois State Bar Association 2nd Vice President James F. McCluskey (far right) presented an ISBA Law Enforcement Award to Illinois Department of Conservation Officer Hank Frazier (second from left) on Oct. 18 at JJ’s Pub in Ottawa. (Also pictured: James T. Reilly [far left] and LaSalle County Bar Association President Michelle A. Vescogni [second from right]). Illinois Department of Conservation Officer Hank Frazier, of Utica, received a 2016 Law Enforcement Award from the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) on October 18 during a LaSalle County Bar Association meeting at JJ’s Pub in Ottawa.

The ISBA’s Law Enforcement Award was created to recognize sworn law enforcement officers for conduct that promotes justice and to distinguish those individuals whose service to the public brings honor and respect to the entire criminal justice system. It recognizes those who excel in law enforcement. ISBA 2nd Vice President James F. McCluskey presented the award.

Best Practice: Law Firm Governance - Executive Committee - Non-Equity Member and Procedures

Posted on October 19, 2016 by Morgan Yingst

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm is a fourteen attorney firm in Orlando, Florida. We have Two equity members, five non-equity members, and seven associates. We are currently managed by the managing member. In order to be more inclusive we are thinking about eliminating the managing member position and moving to a three member executive committee with one of the three members being a non-equity member. I would appreciate your thoughts?

Notice of public hearings and request for public comment on the Uniform Bar Examination

Posted on October 17, 2016 by Morgan Yingst

The Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) is a multistate bar examination prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which has been adopted in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Administered over two days, the UBE consists of: (a) the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) - a 200- question multiple-choice test; (b) the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) - six essay questions on general principles of law; and (c) the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) - two hypothetical legal assignments requiring examinees to complete the tasks in writing. Persons who take the UBE receive a portable score, which, if high enough, will be accepted by any UBE jurisdiction as a passing score on its bar exam for a specific time period.

ISBA Springfield office closed Monday for repair work

Posted on October 17, 2016 by Mark S. Mathewson

The ISBA Springfield office is closed Monday, October 17, while workers repair water damage from a weekend storm.  Website, phone and email services were interrupted Monday morning but should now be back to normal. However, Springfield staff members are away from the office today to make way for repair crews. The Chicago office remains open.  

CLE: Solo & Small Firm Practice Institute Series: A Balancing Act: Technology Tools and Techniques for Your Practice

Posted on October 14, 2016 by Morgan Yingst

Although modern technology has evolved by leaps and bounds, the use of technology in the legal community has moved a bit more slowly because attorneys are hesitant to take risks on the unknown. This full-day seminar in Chicago or via live webcast on Friday, October 28, 2016 shows you how technology can boost efficiency and professionalism in your practice and gives you the confidence you need to use it. As an attendee, you will learn: how to use Office 365 in your practice; new ways to energize yourself and handle the stresses of technology and the demands of your practice; how technology can help you manage deadlines and get compensated for your time; which technology tips you can and should begin incorporating into your practice; new techniques for establishing great communication with clients, jurors, and judges; how to monitor and protect your online reputation; the ethical issues that can arise when using technology in your practice; how to share documents electronically; and much more!

Court system readies for mandatory e-filing

Posted on October 12, 2016 by Mark S. Mathewson

Early in 2016 the Illinois Supreme Court entered order M.R. 18368, which set the timeline for mandatory e-filing statewide. By July 1, 2017, e-filing of civil cases will be mandatory for the Illinois Supreme and Appellate Courts. Beginning January 1, 2018, e-filing of civil cases will be mandatory in all Illinois circuit courts.

In anticipation of these deadlines, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) hired Texas-based Tyler Technologies to roll out a centralized, statewide e-filing system. Tyler's Odyssey File & Serve platform is currently used in 19 states.

According to AOIC Director Michael Tardy, the unified e-filing system will increase efficiency and streamline the litigation process for lawyers and pro se litigants. Tardy says the decision to use Tyler was based in part on the company's success providing statewide e-filing for Indiana (a state half the size of Illinois) and Texas (a state twice the size).

He also says that SB 3162, signed into law on August 19, 2016 and now PA 99-0859, imposes court automation fees which will be used to get e-filing "up and running." Given that the court has set a hard deadline for compliance with its order, Tardy says that the court system will continue to find ways to make statewide e-filing a reality.

Find out more about mandatory e-filing, including why clerks of the Illinois Appellate Court are worried about the looming deadline, in the October Illinois Bar Journal.