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Illinois Bar Journal

Women Flying Solo

Posted on April 19, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

All attorneys who choose to become solo practitioners face the challenges of setting up and running a business. That includes putting together a business plan, separating trust accounts and other funding sources, and attracting and retaining clients.

Women who take the solo journey also face bias and stereotypes that can negatively affect their confidence and their bottom line - although occasionally, being female can be an advantage. That's according to a panel of women lawyers who have started their own firms and who participated earlier this year in an ISBA webinar titled, "On My Own: Starting Your Solo Practice as a Female Attorney."

Criminal defense attorney Sarah Toney of The Toney Law Firm in Chicago notes that some challenges female solos face are not necessarily related to being a woman. When an attorney starts a firm, she says, she or he should create a checklist of everything a solo practitioner needs to do, ranging from registering your entity with the Illinois Supreme Court to getting malpractice insurance.

"There's a lot of minutiae you don't think about," Toney says. "You can't just quit your job, hang a shingle, and start practicing. You need to get an EIN number."

Limited Scope Representation in Transactions - Put it in Writing

Posted on April 11, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

Limited scope representation has been ethically permissible in Illinois since at least 2010 and probably even before then. Initially conceived to make it easier to serve clients of modest means, it might be more important today as a way to accommodate changing consumer preferences about legal services.

The High Price of Free Email

Posted on April 4, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

Digital technology and internet connectivity allow attorneys and staff to work from almost anywhere. Storing data in cloud-based practice management programs is becoming more common, with the vaunted security of these systems being a major selling point.

But a surprising number of attorneys use free email accounts from vendors such as AOL, Yahoo, and Google in their law practices. While these accounts are attractive because they help small and solo firms reduce overhead — it can't get cheaper than free, right? — they come with serious security risks.

ARDC Reports Positive Early Reaction to Lawyer Self-Assessment

Posted on March 28, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

The Illinois ARDC has implemented a new, first-in-the-nation self-assessment program for practicing attorneys that do not carry malpractice insurance.

Historically, Illinois has not required lawyers to carry malpractice insurance. While that's still the case, effective January 1, 2018, lawyers that do not carry malpractice insurance are required to take a free, four-hour online self-assessment course about law firm operations before they register for 2019.

5 Technologies That Can Transform Your Practice

Posted on March 22, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

Implementing the right technology can transform a law practice. And there's a good chance it isn't the shiny new tech object everyone is talking about.

"Often times with solo and smaller firms, and larger firms too, there is a feeling that a particular technology is required at your firm - where there's pressure or recommendations from consultants or colleagues that you should absolutely have a particular type of technology," says Jennifer Ramovs, director of practice management at Affinity Consulting. "And often we make decisions based on that pressure."

Yes, You Need a Password Manager

Posted on March 15, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

Are all of your important passwords written down somewhere? Maybe on a sheet of paper in your desk? If so, it's probably time to upgrade to a password manager. Barron Henley writes in the March Illinois Bar Journal.

"A password manager is a program that can securely store and organize passwords, login credentials, credit card information, bank account information, IDs (driver's licenses, passports, etc.), and any other piece of information you might need (e.g., your children's social security numbers, your Delta frequent flyer number, or the license plate number for your car)," Henley writes.

Stop Putting That IRS Circular 230 Disclaimer on Email

Posted on March 8, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

It seems that every attorney appends boilerplate disclaimers — sometimes lengthy ones — at the bottom of emails. For many, it may be a standard footer the entire firm uses. For others, it might be something borrowed from another lawyer. Whatever the value of these disclaimers in general, many still contain some language that is not only unnecessary but inaccurate in its most familiar form — the IRS Circular 230 disclaimer.

Decades-Old Maintenance Deduction Eliminated By New Tax Law

Posted on March 1, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

Late last year, President Trump signed the GOP's tax bill into law. While it has been lauded in some circles as a welcome tax break for American workers and businesses, changes to the tax code will make getting divorced more expensive for maintenance payors by removing a deduction in place since 1942.

Beginning on January 1, 2019, former spouses that pay maintenance will not be able to deduct the payments from their taxes. This change only applies to orders or settlements signed after January 1, 2019.

Under the new tax law, not only will maintenance payors be unable to deduct the payments from their taxes, payees will not have to report the money as income. This will change the calculations under Illinois's new maintenance statute, which are based on the gross incomes of both spouses.

2018 Lincoln Award Legal Writing Contest Winners Announced

Posted on February 21, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

Chicagoan Jake Crabbs, a law clerk for the Circuit Court of Cook County, is winner of first place and $2,000 in the ISBA’s 2018 Lincoln Award Legal Writing Contest. His article, “Who Can Receive Service for a Corporate Defendant?,” appears in the February issue of the Illinois Bar Journal.

 

Second place winner is Daniel Ritter of Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP in St. Louis, who wrote “Limiting Personal Jurisdiction: The Impact of Tyrrell, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Aspen American,” which also appears in the February IBJ. Daniel won $1,000.

 

Third place and $500 goes to John Zimmerman, Springfield, for “People v. Kent: The New Standard for Authenticating Social Media Evidence.

 

Thirty manuscripts were submitted in the 2018 contest, which was sponsored by the ISBA Young Lawyers Division and open to YLD members. Judges were Justice David K. Overstreet of the Illinois Appellate Court, Fifth District; Judge Diane M. Shelley of Circuit Court of Cook County; Isaac Colunga, a partner in Ice Miller LLP’s business litigation group in Chicago; Barbara Bell, who practices employment law and estate planning in Arlington Heights; and Kathy Sons of Kavanagh Grumley & Gorbold in Joliet.

How to Be Sure You’re Cybersecure

Posted on January 25, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

Financial institutions, healthcare entities, and government agencies might top the list of targets for those who wish to hack into computer systems and steal money, personal data, or other information. But everyone - including those in the legal world - is vulnerable and should implement, and continuously upgrade, cybersecurity defenses.

"Security is no longer somebody else's problem. It's affecting pretty much everybody, regardless of industry," says Adrian Vargas, manager, security & privacy risk consulting at Crowe Horwath in Chicago, who appeared at a CLE program on the subject presented by the ISBA's Insurance Law Section

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