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New Supreme Court committee to focus on future of the courts

Posted on October 12, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride and the Illinois Supreme Court announced Thursday formation of a long-range planning committee to serve as a "think tank" to better adapt Illinois courts to future trends in economic, technological, scientific and social changes.

The Committee on Strategic Planning of the Illinois Judicial Conference is composed of judges, lawyers and will include other stakeholders in the justice system. It is charged with identifying emerging trends and issues that may impact the courts and the delivery of justice, and proposing specific strategies and tactics to address them.

"Instead of being reactive to change—sometimes years late—the judicial branch needs to be more proactive, more anticipatory," said Chief Justice Kilbride. "The committee will take a close look at larger issues before they require immediate attention. We need to develop strategies and prepare to adapt to Illinois' changing needs.

"I thank my colleagues on the Supreme Court for supporting this new structure within the Judicial Conference; I thank the members of the new committee for their energy and enthusiasm in embarking on this new endeavor; and I especially thank Judge Michael Hyman for his leadership in preparing and presenting the planning proposal."

The 13-person committee will be made up partly of members of the Executive Committee of the Illinois Judicial Conference and six appointees of the Chief Justice. The Illinois Judicial Conference is a vehicle mandated by the Illinois Constitution to suggest improvements in the administration of justice. Hence, the committee formalizes a new structure for strategic planning within the model of the Judicial Conference.

CLE: Practice Advice for Mom and Pop Company Chapter 11s

Posted on October 11, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

Because small business owners turn to you for advice when the family business fails, it is important that you understand the basics of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a small business debtor. Join us for a full-day seminar in Chicago on October 19th

John B. Simon appointed to 1st District Appellate Court

Posted on October 11, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

John B. SimonThe Illinois Supreme Court announced Thursday the appointment of John B. Simon to the Illinois Appellate Court. Mr. Simon is a well known attorney with the Chicago firm of Jenner & Block and has a long record of public service. He is a former U.S. Assistant Attorney, former member of the Illinois Racing Board and has broad corporate and litigation experience with Jenner & Block. He will serve as the co-chair of the Illinois Bar Foundation's Gala on Oct. 19.

Mr. Simon will fill the vacancy created by the death of Appellate Justice Michael J. Murphy who passed away Oct. 1.

Supreme Court Justice Charles E. Freeman recommended the appointment of Mr. Simon to the Supreme Court and will administer the judicial oath of office to Mr. Simon on November 1. The appointment will terminate December 1, 2014 when the position will be filled by the November 2014 General Election.

"It's an honor to have been appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court as a justice of the Illinois Appellate Court to succeed the late Justice Michael J. Murphy," said Mr. Simon. "He was a respected jurist who is greatly admired by me and all who knew him.

"I thank the Supreme Court for the confidence they have placed in me and I am humbled by the honor."

Mr. Simon is the son of the late Justice Seymour F. Simon, who served as a Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court for eight years and as an Appellate Justice for six years.

Young Lawyers host 2nd Professional Development Luncheon - watch online!

Posted on October 10, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

The ISBA Young Lawyers hosted “Taking Charge of Your Legal Career,” the second of a four-part series of Professional Development Luncheons on Oct. 9. Participants included (from left) Speaker and ISBA President-elect Paula H. Holderman of Winston & Strawn; speaker Shawn Kasserman of Corboy & Demetrio, speaker Mary Sabatino of Wiedner & McAuliffe and moderator Jessica Durkin of Miroballi, Durkin & Rudin.

Full video of the luncheon is available at The next luncheon will be held on Jan. 9, 2013.

CLE: What Every Lawyer Should Know about Intellectual Property

Posted on October 10, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

Does your client (or potential client) have a company logo, a jingle, an industrial design, an invention, or a patent? Does their company have a trade secret that needs to be guarded? Do they draft architectural design, write novels, develop music, or create artwork? If so, then you won’t want to miss this opportunity to get the information you need to advise and protect your clients on important intellectual property issues!

Join us in Chicago on October 17th for this basic overview of several intellectual property areas, including copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Topics include: common intellectual property issues; recent developments and political changes to the intellectual property law arena; the benefits of trademark registration; sending or receiving cease-and-desist letters; patent concerns in business transaction and patent litigation; managing confidential disclosures; eavesdropping and privacy laws; how the Internet has changed intellectual property; and the ethical considerations in intellectual property cases. The program is presented by the ISBA Intellectual Property Section and qualifies for 6.25 MCLE hours, including 0.50 Professional Responsibility MCLE credit (subject to approval).

Can’t attend the live program in Chicago? Then join us via web! This program will broadcast live over the Internet so that attorneys can attend remotely.

Best Practice: Survival tips for law firm administrators

Posted on October 10, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the Director of Administration with a 45 attorney firm in Des Moines, Iowa. I am new to this position and could use some pointers on what I need to be successful in my role. This is my first law firm

A. Few things are as important to an administrator’s future as that person’s ability to influence the decision-making process and effect change. Skills and competencies are important, but so are results. To transcend to the next level and enhance your value to your law firm, you must help your firm actually effect positive changes and improvements and improve performance. This requires selling ideas to partners in the firm, and having them accept and actually implement those ideas. To succeed, you must achieve three outcomes:

  1. You must provide new solutions or methods.
  2. The firm must achieve over time measurable improvement in its results by having adopted the solutions, and
  3. The firm must sustain the improvements over time.

Click here for our blog on governance

Click here for our articles on other topics

Paying for long-term care in Illinois

Posted on October 9, 2012 by Mark S. Mathewson

There are five ways to pay for long-term care in Illinois. William Siebers' and Zach Hesselbaum's article in the October Illinois Bar Journal discusses all five and brings you up-to-date on the most recent developments in the ever-shifting Medicaid and Veterans' Administration rules governing nursing home stays.

Special Committee on Law School Debt to hold statewide hearings

Posted on October 8, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois State Bar Association's Special Committee on Law School Debt, formed by President John E. Thies, will hold five open hearings throughout the state. ISBA members are encouraged to attend these meetings to discuss how increasing law school debt is impacting the delivery of legal services.

The Committee is particularly interested in hearing about the impact of law school debt in the following situations:

  1. Recruitment and retention of new lawyers in small- and medium-size firms
  2. Decisions by lawyers to open practices in small communities
  3. Recruitment and retention of new lawyers working for legal aid organizations
  4. Financial ability of new lawyers to open solo practices (and possible liability and ethical consequences resulting there from);
  5. Availability of lawyers being willing to perform pro bono services;
  6. Opportunity for new lawyers to advance from entry level positions in the profession.

Hearing Schedule

The hearings will held from 2 to 4 p.m. at the following locations:

ISBA Member Update with President John E. Thies - ABA Annual Meeting highlights

Posted on October 8, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA President John E. Thies provides highlights from the ABA Annual Meeting, where Chicago attorney Laurel G. Bellows became the organization's 136th president.

Legal Writing Checklist

Posted on October 5, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

By Jim Covington, Illinois State Bar Association

With the Illinois General Assembly in recess, ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington provides a helpful legal writing checklist. The full checklist is also available below the video.

(1) Front-load your information by starting with a meaningful synopsis. Readers process information much easier if they know where they are going.

(2) Use descriptive headings as signposts to guide your reader followed by bite-size chunks of text. Your sentences should average about 20 words per sentence because big chunks of text intimidate readers.

(3) Use active voice so that the actor is doing the action instead of receiving it. We talk in active voice. For example, “I hit a home run” instead of “a home run was hit by me.” Active voice creates shorter, tighter sentences. Try to keep your passive sentences under 20%.

(4) Use conversational word order. The natural flow of an English sentence is subject-verb-object. Don’t interrupt this flow by separating your subject from your verb with a long dependent clause. Don’t get bogged down starting with a long dependent clause. Ask yourself, “Who is doing what to whom?”

(5) Less is more. No judge ever finished reading a concise brief or motion and wished it were longer.