Two Great ISBA Member Benefits Sponsored by
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A Value of $1,344, Included with Membership
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CLE: Understanding a Construction Contract

Posted on March 21, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

Learn about the unique structure and components of construction contracting with this full-day seminar! Construction law attorneys, general practitioners, and real estate lawyers with basic practice experience who attend this seminar in Chicago on April 7, 2017 will learn: the different delivery methods for construction contract documents; which parties should be listed in a construction project; different compensation models for construction projects; why shop drawings are not considered contract documents; which statutory issues can arise during both a public project and a private project; which obligations belong to the owner, contractor, architect and engineer; which insurance provisions are needed; understanding the rules for communication between all involved parties; protecting the project through the payment process; the different ways a project can come to a close; understanding the process for adjusting the scope, time, and price on a construction contract; and understanding claims processes involved in a construction project.

The seminar is presented by the ISBA Construction Law Section and qualifies for 6.50 hours MCLE credit.

Click here for more information and to register.


Illinois Supreme Court disbars 6, suspends 11 in latest disciplinary filing

Posted on March 21, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on March 20, 2017, during the March Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law. 


  • Joel Mitchell Bell, Chicago

Mr. Bell, who was licensed in 1975, was disbarred on consent. He misappropriated over $364,000 in client funds and lied to two of his clients about the status of their respective settlement proceeds. He was suspended on an interim basis on December 2, 2016.

  • Michael David Gerhardt, Forest Park

Mr. Gerhardt, who was licensed in 2003, was disbarred. He neglected two civil cases, resulting in two judgments totaling approximately $500,000 being entered against his clients in one case and $20,000 in settlement funds not being distributed to another client. He also failed to return an unearned fee and made misrepresentations to his client regarding the status of that client’s case. He failed to appear at his own disciplinary hearing.

Statement of Chicago Bar Association and Illinois State Bar Association on proposed elimination of Legal Services Corporation

Posted on March 17, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

The Trump Administration’s budget released yesterday proposes to completely eliminate all federal funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC).

This is not in the best interests of the American people and those in need who qualify for legal aid services. Millions of Americans depend on LSC-funded legal representation, including survivors of domestic violence, veterans often struggling with economic and mental health issues after returning home from combat, people displaced by disasters, the elderly, people with disabilities who have been financially exploited and abused, and many other vulnerable Americans.

Last year, more than 67,000 Illinois residents—nearly half of them children—were helped by the three Illinois programs funded by LSC in civil legal cases that included family, housing, and consumer issues. Without LSC funding, the services of such well-respected organizations as the Land of Legal Assistance Foundation, Prairie State Legal Services, and the Legal Assistance Fund would be in jeopardy. Central to American legal and cultural values is the belief that all people should have access to the justice system, regardless of personal financial circumstances.

Since 1981, the number of Americans eligible for legal aid has increased by more than 50 percent to a record of more than 60 million people. Yet now, when adjusted for inflation, Congress allocates 50 percent less in funding for LSC than it did in 1981. Therefore, more than half of people in need of legal aid are turned away due to a lack of resources.

10 cybersecurity tips for lawyers

Posted on March 15, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

"Lawyers have an ethical obligation to protect their clients' information," and in this day and age that means electronically stored information, observes ISBA Intellectual Property Section Council member Margo Lynn Hablutzel in the March Illinois Bar Journal. With that in mind, she offers 10 cybersecurity tips for lawyers to consider.

1. Change the factory password on a device to something different and uncommon "so hackers don't gain access through factory-installed passwords."

2. Change passwords often.

3. Use strong passwords that include "a combination of letters (sometimes requiring both upper- and lowercase letters), numbers, and symbols."

4. Consider using dual authentication, which "requires two items to confirm a person's right to access your systems, the simplest being an email address and a password."

5. Limit file access to those who need it. "Some firms set up secure areas for major clients which are accessible to only specific persons from both the firm and the client," Hablutzel writes.

6. Disable passwords when someone leaves the firm.

7. Plan for a cyberattack or breakdown as you would for other disasters.

8. Train your team to avoid spoofing and phishing and to "'trust but verify' before clicking on a link or sending out any information."

Best Practice: 16 characteristics of a successful contingency fee law firm – a guide for new managing partners

Posted on March 15, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a newly appointed managing partner for an 18-attorney firm in Dayton, Ohio. We are an employment law litigation firm that represents plaintiffs on a contingency fee basis. We have been in business for five years and are facing severe cash flow and profitability challenges primarily due to lackluster contingency fee outcomes. Do you have any guidelines or suggestions as to what we should aim for?

CLE: Solo & Small Firm Practice Institute Series – A Balancing Act: Technology Tips and Maximizing Your Profit

Posted on March 13, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

Get the technology tips you need to maximize your profits with this full-day seminar in Moline on March 31, 2017. Topics include: how to build a successful marketing plan for your practice; how to maintain a paperless office by redefining your everyday workflow; how to protect your data and your client’s information; the potential billing and collections issues that may arise in your practice; how to deal with the stresses of the profession; how to run your practice like a business and build a reliable business plan; how setting up a succession plan can protect your practice; using the cloud in your practice; how to manage social media accounts; and understanding your firm’s finances.

The seminar is presented by the Illinois State Bar Association and co-sponsored by ISBA Mutual Insurance Company. It qualifies for 6.25 hours MCLE credit, including 6.25 hours Professional Responsibility MCLE credit (subject to approval).

Click here for more information and to register.

ARDC warns of fraudulent email targeting lawyers

Posted on March 8, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission is warning of a phishing threat aimed at Illinois lawyers.

“A phishing attack targeting lawyers has been reported recently by state disciplinary authorities in District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Missouri and California,” the ARDC reports. “Emails received by lawyers in those states purport to notify the lawyer of a disciplinary complaint, usually with the subject line ‘Bar Complaint’ or something similar, in an attempt to lure the lawyer into responding by clicking on links to files that open malicious software.

The ARDC has also received several reports of this happening to Illinois lawyers. If you receive one of these fraudulent emails, please do not respond or click on any attachments. Delete it immediately. The ARDC DOES NOT notify lawyers of the initiation of disciplinary investigations via email except when there is difficulty in contacting the lawyer via U.S. mail.”

If you have questions about an email that purports to be from the ARDC, contact the Commission.

U.S. Attorney's Office, Central Illinois District, seeks Criminal AUSA

Posted on March 8, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

The U.S. Attorneys' Office, Central Illinois District, seeks a Criminal Assistant United States Attorney. Criminal AUSAs prosecute federal criminal cases in the District. They advise federal law enforcement agents on criminal investigations, present criminal cases to the grand jury, try criminal cases before the United States District Court, and may represent the United States in criminal appeals before the Circuit Court of Appeals. Candidates should be capable of handling a variety of significant and complex criminal prosecutions. 

Applicants must possess a J.D. degree, be an active member of the bar (any U.S. jurisdiction), and have at least 1 year post-J.D. legal or other relevant experience. The Central District of Illinois is headquartered in Springfield with staffed offices in Peoria, Rock Island, and Urbana. This position is located in Urbana. The application deadline is March 17. Find out more.

Best Practice: Law firm merger – are we a suitable candidate?

Posted on March 8, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. We have a two-partner firm in Columbus, Ohio. We have two staff members, and there are no other attorneys in the firm. We have been in practice together for 17 years. I am 62 and my partner is in his fifties. My practice is limited to intellectual property and my partner’s practice is limited to medical malpractice defense. Recently, as a result of lack of coverage, our unwillingness to hire associate attorneys, and our frustrations with dealing with management issues, we have decided that we would like to merge with a larger firm. However, we are concerned that our numbers may not be satisfactory. Our five-year averages are as follows:

  • Gross Revenue – $500,000
  • Expenses – $240,000
  • Net Income – $260,000

Since we split the pot evenly we each made $130,000 on average. With these numbers are we a suitable candidate or are we just whistling in the wind? We would appreciate your thoughts.