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Dramshop: Strict damage caps for the Illinois Insurance Guarantee Fund

Posted on January 8, 2014 by Mark S. Mathewson

The Illinois Supreme Court has mended a divide between appellate court decisions regarding whether certain dramshop liabilities should be reduced from a jury's award of damages or, alternatively, from a statutory liability cap that applies to the Illinois Insurance Guarantee Fund. The court ruled that the cap defines the upper limit of liability, even when that means a smaller recovery for the plaintiff. Find out more in the January Illinois Bar Journal.

Best Practice: How to improve law firm advertising

Posted on January 8, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the owner of a 5 attorney estate planning/elder law firm in Boston. Our business volume has been stagnant for the past several years and down substantially this past year. We try to do all the marketing that we can. I do at least one seminar a month, we are in key directories, have a good website, send out paper and print newsletters, etc. In the past we have experimented with TV and radio advertising where we used professional narrators/actors. The results were dismal at best. Frankly, I feel we need to spend more on advertising but we are undercapitalized and funds are tight. I would appreciate your thoughts.

Wexstten retirement creates appellate vacancy in 5th District

Posted on January 6, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier announced Monday that an application process has begun to fill a vacancy in the Fifth District Appellate Court.

The vacancy is being created by the announced resignation of Appellate Justice James M. Wexstten, effective January 29, 2014.

Under the Illinois Constitution, the Supreme Court holds the authority to fill interim judicial vacancies. Justice Karmeier will use a special committee to evaluate and interview the applicants before making a recommendation to the Court to fill the vacancy.

An Applicant Information Form may be obtained from Justice Karmeier at P.O. Box 266, Nashville, IL 62263. The Information Form may also be obtained from any of the Chief Judges in the Fifth Judicial District. The Chief Judges are: Judge Mark Clarke, First Judicial Circuit, Marion; Judge Thomas Tedeschi, Second Judicial Circuit, Benton; Judge David Hylla, Third Judicial Circuit, Edwardsville; Judge Gene Schwarm, Fourth Judicial Circuit, Vandalia; and Judge John Baricevic, 20th Judicial Circuit, Belleville.

Applications must be received in Justice Karmeier's office no later than Friday, January 31, 2014. The person appointed to fill the vacancy will serve until the position is filled through the November 2016 General Election. The appointment will terminate December 5, 2016. To be eligible for appointment, a person must be a citizen of the United States, a licensed Illinois attorney in good standing, and a resident of the Fifth Judicial District at the time of the appointment.

CLE: Hot Topics in Agricultural Law – 2014

Posted on January 3, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Are you familiar with the updated Illinois and federal estate and income tax laws? Do you know how to best represent your client before the ICC when a utility files a petition to construct a new transmission line? Do you understand the importance eminent domain has on negotiating compensation during a pipeline easement acquisition? Join us in Bloomington-Normal on February 7th for a fuller understanding of the law and practice affecting these issues, including: whether a credit trust is still viable under the new tax bill; income tax issues, including IRS regulations and court cases as they relate to agricultural pursuits; rapidly deploying high-voltage overhead transmission line easement projects, pipeline easements, and the best ways to negotiate for farm owners’ interests; fracking issues that can arise with long-reach horizontal drilling and modern hydraulic fracturing; changes to the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act; food safety law and food labeling; and new law office technology, social media, and ethical issues to avoid when using social media as an advertising and communication tool.

The program is presented by the ISBA Agricultural Law Section and qualifies for 6.5 hours MCLE credit, including 1.0 hour Professional Responsibility MCLE credit (subject to approval).

Click here for more information and to register.

2 Minutes with the President: Paula H. Holderman discusses Elder Law Court with Judge Patricia Banks

Posted on December 30, 2013 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA President Paula H. Holderman discusses the Cook County Court's new Elder Law Division with Judge Patricia Banks, who was recently appointed presiding Judge of the new Elder Law and Miscellaneous Remedies Division.

Illinois Supreme Court issues Amended Rules 15 and 138

Posted on December 30, 2013 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois Supreme Court has issued Amended Rules 15 and 138 regarding confidential information within court filings. Among other changes, the amendments delay the effective date of key personal identity provisions in Rule 138 one year to January 1, 2015. The full text of the Amended Rules is available at

U.S. Court for Southern District of Illinois seeks part time Pro Se Law Clerk

Posted on December 23, 2013 by Chris Bonjean

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois is seeking a part time temporary Pro Se Law Clerk (20 hours per week). This temporary position is for one year and one day and may be extended but may not exceed four years, unless it becomes permanent. The Pro Se Law Clerk provides legal advice and assistance to the court in connection with prisoner petitions and complaints. The successful candidate for this position will report to the Chief Judge in the East St. Louis courthouse and may qualify for regular, recurring, or ad hoc telework. Click here to view the full job description

POSITION: Pro Se Law Clerk, Part Time Temporary*
SALARY RANGE: $57,408 (JSP 11/1) to $125,695 (JSP 14/10), depending on qualifications**
DATE POSTED: December 23, 2013
CLOSING DATE: January 17, 2014, at noon
* Position may become full time and/or permanent without further competition
** Salary range is divided in half for part time position

ISBA Free Online CLE benefit expanded

Posted on December 19, 2013 by Chris Bonjean

Beginning in January 2014, the Free Online CLE benefit will expand to include all 525+ hours of archived FastCLE programming from which members can choose.
All eligible ISBA members can earn up to 15 MCLE credit hours, including 6 PMCLE credit hours, per bar year; enough to meet the 30 hour MCLE requirement over a 2 year period! This is included with membership, at NO EXTRA COST.

An Illinois State Bar Association member benefit sponsored by ISBA Mutual Insurance Company

Quick takes on Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions

Posted on December 19, 2013 by Chris Bonjean

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Hooker v. The Retirement Board of the Firemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, American Access Casualty Co. v. Reyes, and The Venture-Newberg-Perini, Stone & Webster v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and the criminal cases In re Danielle J. and People v. Brown.


Hooker v. Retirement Board of the Firemen's Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago

By Michael T. Reagan, Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan, Ottawa

This case resolved the issue of whether annuities paid to the widows of two Chicago firemen who suffered duty-related injuries and later died should have included “duty availability pay,” which had never been received by these decedents, in the calculation of the amounts. The calculation of an annuity is to be based on “the current annual salary attached to the classified position to which the fireman was certified at the time of his death.” The court noted that the amount of the annuity does not depend on the fireman’s actual salary during his career. “Duty availability pay” is paid on a quarterly basis to all firemen, except certain employees assigned to platoon duty.

ISBA honored for Lawyers Feeding Illinois campaign

Posted on December 19, 2013 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois State Bar Association was recognized for its Lawyers Feeding Illinois program at the Assembly meeting on Dec. 14. ISBA President Paula H. Holderman received an commemorative plate from Jim Hires, board chair of Feeding Illinois and executive director of the Eastern Illinois Food Bank. ISBA Immediate Past President John Thies and his wife Terry were also on hand to receive the plate. Lawyers Feeding Illinois was an initiative during Mr. Thies’ presidency of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) in 2012-13 and Terry Thies served as the ISBA Chair of the statewide effort

During the campaign, the ISBA exceeded its goal of raising 1 million meals:  lawyer teams and more than 2,000 donors  raised more than 4.6 million meals. Attorney General Lisa Madigan supported the campaign, along with Illinois judges, who placed collection containers for non-perishable food items in courthouses in all parts of the state. Additional financial support for the project came from Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund and ISBA Mutual Insurance Company. Numerous local, ethnic and specialty bar associations also participated.