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Fourth district ruling overturns statute granting hospital tax exemption

Posted on April 7, 2016 by Mark S. Mathewson

The 1970 Illinois Constitution allows the General Assembly to exempt properties that are "used exclusively for…charitable purposes" from property taxes. Ill. Const. 1970, art. IX, § 6. How those exemptions work for not-for-profit hospitals has been contentious for a while. Cash-strapped counties want to collect property taxes; not-for-profit hospitals want to claim an exemption.

In Carle Foundation v. Cunningham Township, 2016 IL App (4th) 140795, the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District, raises this issue again, holding that a 2012 statute designed to clarify the definition of "charitable purposes" is unconstitutional and the hospital is thus liable for property taxes. On March 14, the Illinois Supreme Court stayed enforcement of the fourth district ruling "pending disposition of the petition for leave to appeal" to the high court. Find out more in the April Illinois Bar Journal.

Quick Takes for Your Practice: Filing a complaint for personal injury or wrongful death

Posted on April 6, 2016 by Chris Bonjean

Attorney Shawn Kasserman discusses 4 things you must do when filing a complaint for personal injury or wrongful death.

Best Practice: Debt and other liabilities can kill future growth options

Posted on April 6, 2016 by Chris Bonjean

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

Q. I am part of a three member management committee of a 16-lawyer firm located in Akron, Ohio. We have 10 partners and 6 associates. Several of our partners are in their 50s and 60s. We have had recent discussions with a couple of potential merger partners and laterals and in all cases they have backed out because they were uncomfortable with our balance sheet. What can we do to better position ourselves? We desperately need to bring in new talent with books of business.

Illinois Lawyer Finder makes nearly 1,000 referrals in March

Posted on April 5, 2016 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois State Bar Association’s Lawyer Finder Service provides referrals to local lawyers Mondays through Fridays. The Service makes referrals in a number of areas of law. For the month of March 2016, there were 987 referrals. ISBA helped people in need of legal services find lawyers in the following areas:

Simplifying and Lessening the Cost of Legal Services - The Denver Honoring Families Initiation and Resource Center

Posted on April 5, 2016 by Chris Bonjean

By Sandra Crawford, ISBA Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services

A part of the ISBA's Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services mission is to:  study, recommend, promote and conduct activities of the Association pertaining to mechanisms for the delivery of legal services to the public, including but not limited to legal assistance to the indigent and other methods of simplifying or lessening the costs of delivery systems.  Underlying this mission is the interest to insure access to justice to all members of our diverse community in Illinois.  The Institute for Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) has similar goals but comes at the topic from a research perspective.

Lenovo spring savings gives ISBA members up to 24% off

Posted on April 4, 2016 by Chris Bonjean

Spring forward with a new Lenovo PC! April showers you with instant savings up to 24% off select

innovative technologies, accessories, and more from the #1 PC Maker in the world! If for home or home office use, Lenovo has the smart device for every user! Shop now and Save!


Attorney registration fee increasing $3 to help fund LAP

Posted on April 1, 2016 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois Supreme Court announced on Friday that the annual registration fee for attorneys practicing in Illinois will increase by $3 next year.

The increased funds will be directed to the Lawyers' Assistance Program (LAP), a not-for-profit organization that helps attorneys, judges, and law students get confidential assistance with substance abuse, addiction, and mental health issues.

Under amended Supreme Court Rule 756, the annual registration fee will increase from $382 to $385 in 2017 for attorneys who have been in active status for three years or longer. Attorneys in active status for less than three years, inactive status attorneys, and out-of-state attorneys eligible to practice in Illinois under Supreme Court Rule 707 will not see their attorney registration fees rise.

“This modest increase in the annual registration fee will have a significant impact on the LAP’s ability to provide services to impaired attorneys and to shine a light on the issues of addiction and mental illness in our profession,” Chief Justice Rita B. Garman said. “I have often observed that when the Court is called upon to impose professional discipline on an attorney for some sort of professional misconduct, the attorney very often has an underlying history of substance abuse or mental illness. Intervention by the LAP, thus, serves not only the attorney whose career may be impacted by these issues, but the members of the public who have placed their trust in the attorney.”

New ‘accountability court’ helps child-support obligors keep up payments

Posted on March 31, 2016 by Mark S. Mathewson

Late last year, Chief Judge Dave Hylla announced the inception of Madison County's - and Illinois' - first "accountability court." It is designed to help parents who want to pay child support but are unable to do so because they are unemployed or otherwise lack financial stability. The accountability court has partnered with Madison County Employment Services, the Madison County State's Attorney's Office, and local community colleges to identify potential candidates for the program and assist with job training and placement.

Ann Callis, former chief judge and currently of Goldenberg Heller Antognoli, says that the program received an enthusiastic response from the local community colleges and major employers in the area, such as R.P. Lumber. The program is philosophically similar to existing problem-solving tribunals (e.g., drug and veterans' courts).

Hylla says the most important aspect behind the accountability court is that it is designed to assist people, unlike traditional courts that focus on punishment and deterrence. "A lot of times, people with a large arrearage amount aren't thinking about getting into court to modify the support order," he says.

Find out more in the April Illinois Bar Journal.