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Quick Takes for Your Practice: Changes to the MCLE Rules

Posted on December 21, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Jayne Reardon, executive director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, discusses changes to the MCLE rules made by the supreme court.

Referring with Style

Posted on December 21, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

As lawyers increasingly focus their practices, a given attorney often isn't the best choice to handle a given case. Yet clients typically don't know where to turn, which means lawyers and their firms end up deciding which cases to accept and which to refer, and - when they send cases out - how to handle that referral.

Once done on the down-low, referrals have become a more above-board part of legal practice, says Warren Lupel, former special counsel in the litigation and dispute resolution practice at Much Shelist in Chicago. "There's nothing wrong with it, and it's even desirable in most instances," says Lupel, who appeared with Daniel Breen of Chicago's Breen Goril Law during a CLE presentation at the ISBA's Solo and Small Firm Practice Institute in October. "If you are not that specialist, and you know a specialist, the client is going to get a better deal if you refer."

Whether and when to refer is a case-by-case judgment based on one's confidence level in handling a particular matter, Lupel says. "You don't have to be the best lawyer in the country or the county to keep the file," he says. "But if you're a real estate lawyer, and you get a medical malpractice case, that decision should be easy."

Other judgments are trickier, he says. "You may handle small personal injury cases, and this is a big one. Maybe you don't refer it."

Temporary ISBA Service Interruption Scheduled on Dec. 29-30

Posted on December 20, 2017 by Sara Anderson

All ISBA systems will be down due to electrical work beginning Friday, Dec. 29 at 8 a.m. until Saturday, Dec. 30 at 12 p.m. (noon). During this time the ISBA website will not be available. As a result you will also not be able to log into Fastcase, online CLE, and ISBA Central. Here is what you need to know and steps you can take to ensure continued service.

Online CLE

You will not be able to access online CLE at all during the outage. If you need to complete CLE credit before the end of the year, we strongly urge you to plan to finalize that before the outage. 

ISBA Central Communities and Discussion Groups

Discussion groups will still be available via email, but you will not be able to log into ISBA Central. (Note: if you are already logged into the ISBA website, you may be able to access ISBA Central by going to it directly at


For members who need to access Fastcase during this time, please follow the instructions below.

Best Practice Tips: Expectations for Associate Attorney Billable Hours

Posted on December 20, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm is a six-attorney estate planning/probate firm in Mesa, Arizona. There are three partners and three associates in the firm. We have had associates for the last eight years and have never made money from them. Last year we decided to implement a billable hour expectation of 1,800 hours for the associates. A year later, no one is even close. Only one associate has reached 1,500 hours. Is our expectation reasonable? Your insight is appreciated.

Three ABA House of Delegates Openings to Be Filled in January

Posted on December 19, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Three ABA House of Delegates positions remain open after the Dec. 9, 2017, Assembly meeting at the Midyear Meeting in Chicago. These three positions will be filled by the Board of Governors at the Jan. 26, 2018 meeting.

One available position is for an at-large delegate from outside Cook County. This at-large delegate’s term will commence immediately. This delegate will be part of the ISBA delegation at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver in Feb., 2018. and the term will end at the conclusion of the ISBA Annual meeting in June, 2019. 

Two “Under 35” delegate positions are also available, one from Cook County and one from outside Cook County. These “Under 35” delegates will serve for two year terms commencing in June 2018, and will begin their service at the ABA annual meeting in Chicago in Aug. 2018.

All persons seeking appointment must be members of the ISBA in good standing from the appropriate area.  

Interested persons should submit a letter of self-nomination and qualifications, including relevant ISBA service, to the executive director no later than Jan. 12, 2018. Interested persons may also contact their Board of Governor representative. Board member nominations will be allowed from the floor at the Jan. 26 Board of Governors meeting.

Questions should be directed to the ISBA executive director’s office by contacting Kim Weaver by e-mail or by phone at 800-252-8908. 

CLE: Clearing the Skies - How to Fly with the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Program

Posted on December 18, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Get the information you need on Illinois’ new Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Program with this online seminar on January 17, 2018. Attorneys practicing in federal court –  particularly those in the Northern District of Illinois – need to know about the new program, including the common pitfalls and traps to avoid. Our panel of presenters offer their unique perspectives as they discuss the pilot program and show you how it can be used to enhance your practice and promote settlement. Online attendees are encouraged to offer input and ask questions via the chat box feature.

YLD Speed Networking and Wine Tasting

Posted on December 14, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Mark your calendars for Feb. 9, when the ISBA Young Lawyers Division will host its annual speed networking event followed by a wine tasting in Chicago. 

Starting at 3:30, speed networking participants will meet and greet other lawyers and legal professionals to build professional and social networks in an event that combines concepts from speed dating and business networking. Refreshments will be served. 

At 5:30, attendees can then move downstairs to the ISBA Mutual Office to enjoy an evening of tasting a variety of wines and cheese. This events proceeds will benefit the YLD Children’s Assistance Fund.

Registration for both events is now open and we hope to see you there! Register now for speed networking and wine tasting

Illinois Supreme Court Rule Amended to Allow Good Cause E-Filing Exemption for Self-Represented Litigants

Posted on December 13, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 9(c)(4) was amended to allow a good cause exemption to e-filing for self-represented litigants (SRL). The rule change is effective immediately for proceedings in the supreme court and appellate courts. For proceedings in the circuit courts, the amended rule is effective on Jan. 1, 2018.

The amended rule defines the good cause exemption, which must be shown by certification and filed with the court before or with an initial pleading, that exempts SRLs from the e-filing requirement. It also specifies the procedures that must be followed to properly obtain the exemption.

The rule change comes less than three weeks before electronic filing in civil cases will be mandatory across Illinois, and reflects the Illinois Supreme Court's commitment to ensuring access to justice for everyone, including vulnerable SRLs.

Under the amended rule, good cause exists where a self-represented litigant is not able to e-file documents for the following reasons:

  • No computer or Internet access in the home and travel represents a hardship 
  • A disability, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, that prevents e-filing
  • A language barrier or low literacy (difficulty reading, writing, or speaking in English)
  • If the pleading is of a sensitive nature, such as a petition for an order of protection or civil no contact/stalking order

Judges retain discretion to determine whether good cause is shown, or if, under particular circumstances, good cause exists without the filing of a certificate.

ISBA Offices to Close During Holidays

Posted on December 13, 2017 by Sara Anderson

The ISBA Springfield and Chicago offices will be closed for the holidays beginning Friday, Dec. 22. They will reopen on Jan. 2, 2018. During this time, members can expect the following:

All business and e-newsletter distribution will resume as usual on Jan. 2, 2018.