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Illinois Bar Journal

What You Might Have Forgotten About Billing Clients

Posted on January 18, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Ensuring you get paid for your efforts on behalf of your client requires more than getting retained, performing legal services, and sending a bill. When a client disputes a fee or simply refuses to pay, how do you put yourself in the best position to obtain payment? It starts with your initial retention and lasts beyond your representation. In his January Illinois Bar Journal article, “What You Might Have Forgotten About Billing Clients,” David M. Neff revisits essential steps for billing clients and offers guidance from retention to collection.

A New Day for LLCs in Illinois

Posted on January 14, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

In his January 2019 Illinois Bar Journal article, “A New Day for LLCs in Illinois,” Matthew Misichko, an associate in the corporate department at Barnes & Thornburg, discusses new strategic opportunities for clients who are forming businesses in Illinois thanks to recent amendments to the Illinois Limited Liability Company Act. Significant amendments to the Illinois Limited Liability Company Act took effect on July 1, 2017, and brought the Act into conformity with the Uniform Limited Liability Company Act already followed by most states. With the changes come new recommendations for reviewing a current LLC operating agreement or drafting a new one. For starters, LLCs now have appointment power, bringing LLCs into alignment with corporations, which have had such authority for a long time. Also, LLC managers can now be designated rather than elected.

Taming the Guessing Game: Child Support and Variable Income

Posted on January 7, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Finding an agreed-upon methodology to calculate child support can become litigious when a supporting spouse’s income is variable. But basing support calculations on gross income and percentages of income is a good start. In his January 2019 Illinois Bar Journal article, “Taming the Guessing Game: Child Support and Variable Income,” Bryan D. Sullivan explores the benefits of using predetermined percentages of gross income for additional child-support orders under the income shares model and provides practical advice for legal practitioners when drafting such orders. Sullivan’s article also includes links to extensive tables that show how various child-support calculations discussed in his article play out.

Remove or Remain: Trying Asbestos in Illinois

Posted on December 17, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

A state’s legal standard for determining fault is a key factor in determining whether to file a motion to apply foreign law or a motion to dismiss under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. In December’s Illinois Bar Journal, Cameron Turner and Sean Phillips examine such choices regarding asbestos cases in Illinois. Illinois is a well-known epicenter of asbestos litigation, having earned a reputation for allowing cases unconnected to the state to proceed through its system. Onlookers and clients, particularly those new to asbestos litigation and unaware of its broader scope, often express disbelief and frustration at the legitimacy of such a system. Such reactions are fair, and related questions certainly are valid. Illinois does, after all, have statutes in place that allow for the transfer of cases to appropriate forums when any particular forum is improper or inconvenient. It also seems logical, on its face, to lessen the impact of sometimes-harsh Illinois law by looking to the law of a state with a stronger connection to the case when that state's law is more favorable. This rings true even if a defendant chooses to forgo pursuing a forum non conveniens argument.

Mending the Hold

Posted on December 10, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The mend-the-hold doctrine derives its name from “a nineteenth-century wrestling term, meaning to get a better grip (hold) on your opponent.” In a series of early decisions, the Illinois Supreme Court established the mend-the-hold doctrine, which provides that a party’s stated grounds for refusing to perform a contract bars grounds left unstated. The Illinois Appellate Court later narrowed the doctrine by limiting parties to grounds identified at the start of litigation and only when switching positions prejudices an opponent. In December’s Illinois Bar Journal, Stanley C. Nardoni, who practices in the Insurance Recovery Group of Reed Smith LLP’s Chicago office, assesses whether the appellate court’s narrowing of the doctrine contradicts precedent established by the supreme court.

Breaking Up Is Harder to Do

Posted on December 3, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

For the past 70 years, family law attorneys have utilized the alimony deduction to help ease the financial burden divorcing families face as they transition to two households. The elimination of the alimony-payments deduction is a major casualty of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This change will be costly for divorcing couples and may make settling divorce cases more difficult. In December’s Illinois Bar Journal, family law attorneys Nancy Chausow Shafer and Margaret A. Bennett provide a guide to the new maintenance formula, the repeal of the alimony deduction, and other changes that divorcing couples and their attorneys need to know.

Out on a Limb

Posted on November 26, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

A growing number of attorneys and judges who have struggled with mental illness and substance abuse are speaking out about their battles. In doing so, they are challenging misconceptions while promoting services such as the Illinois Lawyers' Assistance Program (LAP). The 2016 American Bar Association Hazelden Betty Ford Study on lawyer impairment mapped out the extent of the problem. The survey of 12,825 attorneys showed that 20.6 percent screened positive for alcoholism, 28 percent for depression, 19 percent for anxiety, and 23 percent for stress—all at higher rates than other professions.

For its December cover story, the Illinois Bar Journal spoke with several attorneys and judges who have wrestled with drug abuse and mental illness, but also sought assistance and treatment. While recovery is not easy, all say they are glad for taking that first step: Asking for help.

Injured, Insured, but not Protected

Posted on November 19, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois Health Care Services Lien Act can complicate situations that involve injured patients, their insurance policies, hospital bills, and settlements. In November’s Illinois Bar Journal, Belleville attorney Daniel C. Katzman, who practices in the areas of personal injury, wrongful death, and medical/nursing home malpractice, provides an analysis of common scenarios involving the Lien Act and strategies for attorneys to pursue their injured client’s best interests.

For example, the Lien Act does not require health-care providers to bill health-insurance companies. But providers may do so through a contract known as a provider agreement. The terms of provider agreements are negotiated by the parties and can vary on a case-to-case basis. In a provider agreement, a health-care provider agrees to accept full payment from a health-insurance company for any covered service rendered to the company's insured. While the provider may receive pennies on the dollar in reimbursement, provider agreements benefit both parties in the form of reduced rates in exchange for increased patient volume. When evaluating a health-care provider's obligations, an attorney should examine the provider agreement to determine whether a health-care provider is required to bill the health-insurance company.

Become an Illinois Bar Journal Author and Receive CLE Credit

Posted on November 15, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois State Bar Association is inviting members to submit articles for publication in the Illinois Bar Journal (IBJ), our award-winning monthly publication that is sent to 28,000 attorneys throughout the state.

When you become an author for the IBJ, you not only establish yourself as an authoritative subject matter expert, but you can also claim CLE credit for your work.

What’s Not to ‘Like’?

Posted on November 12, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

New amendments to Rule 902 of the Illinois Rules of Evidence, which became effective on Sept. 28, 2018, are explored by Dustin Karrison in his article, “What’s Not to ‘Like’?” in the November 2018 Illinois Bar Journal. The amendments ease the burden and expense of authenticating electronically stored evidence for trial, including content from social media sites.

While the amendments ease the burden and expense of authenticating social media content for trial, Karrison warns the amendments only go so far: Compliance with Rule 902 does not establish the original source of social media content. In other words, if a social media site is admitted into evidence, this does not necessarily confirm the content posted on the account was authored or posted by the owner of the account. Karrison provides attorneys on both sides of an authentication challenge with advice based on what the new amendments can and cannot do.