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Best Practice: Law Firm Retreats – Including Key Staff Members

Posted on April 5, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a partner in a 45-lawyer firm in Memphis and a member on the firm’s executive committee. We are planning on having a two-day planning retreat in June of this year. We have had these retreats every year for the past six years. Past retreats have only included attorneys. This year we are considering including staff members. We would appreciate your thoughts as to whether this is a good idea.

A. A firm invites all key staff to a retreat when they can play a major role in identifying problems and developing solutions. A firm retreat is an excellent forum if the partners or management have determined that individuals at different levels within the firm are having communication problems – for example – where communication is inadequate between:

  • Equity partners and non-equity partners
  • Partners and associates
  • Attorneys and staff

Having these individuals participate in solving their own communication problems at the retreat usually produces better results than those obtained when the partners hand down orders that may not deal with the real issues. Staff participation can help identify problems, involve more firm members after the retreat in the implementation of solutions, and improve buy in.    

Illinois Supreme Court Approves Supreme Court Rule 293

Posted on April 4, 2017 by Sara Anderson

On April 3, 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court approved Supreme Court Rule 293, which requires trial courts to commence a jury trial if requested by a respondent in an involuntary admissions proceeding under the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code within 30 days of the request effective immediately.

The decision to approve this rule stems from years of confusion and debate. Recognizing the serious rights at stake in cases such as In re James W., 2014 IL 114483, and In re Rita P., 2014 IL 115798, the Court asked its Special Advisory Committee for Justice and Mental Health Planning to study the matter and recommend solutions. Rule 293 was proposed by the Committee to clarify and make mandatory the time limit trial courts have to convene juries in mental health involuntary commitment hearings. 

The importance of creating one uniform rule for the state cannot be understated. It recognizes the importance of fundamental liberty interests; provides one consistent standard for judges to make clear, concise, and complete findings of fact; and provides guidelines to  judges who lack experience in these types of case. Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier explained, "The Court is confident that the new rule will provide much needed guidance to the courts and officials charged with enforcing the orders and, in so doing, ensure full and proper protection of the fundamental liberty interests of citizens facing involuntary admission or treatment for mental health issues.”

Illinois Supreme Court Amends Rule on Minimum Continuing Legal Education Requirement

Posted on April 4, 2017 by Sara Anderson

On April 3, 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court announced changes to a rule impacting the requirements for continuing legal education (CLE) in Illinois. The rule change will go into effect on July 1, 2017, and begins with attorneys with the two-year reporting period ending June 30, 2019.

Pursuant to Amended Supreme Court Rule 794(d), Illinois lawyers will be required to complete one hour of diversity and inclusion CLE and one hour of mental health and substance abuse CLE as part of the Professional Responsibility CLE requirement. 

Studies show that the legal field falls short in the areas of diversity and wellness as compared to other fields. Promoting education on these issues helps address two of the profession's greatest challenges, and positions Illinois as one of the first states to require such programming. Illinois is one of seven states that allows diversity and inclusion to qualify for ethics/professionalism credit. With the amendment of Rule 794(d), it became the fourth state to require diversity-related CLE, and it is one of only three states that will require mental health and substance abuse education. As a result, Illinois is one of only two states that requires both diversity and inclusion and mental health and substance abuse education for continuing legal education. 

2017 Class of Laureates Honored for Upholding Highest Principles of Law

Posted on March 31, 2017 by Sara Anderson

The 2017 Class of Laureates Induction took place on Thursday, March 30, 2017, at a luncheon held at the Standard Club in Chicago.

This year, the Academy of Illinois Lawyers, founded in 1999 to enhance the honor and dignity of the Bar of Illinois, recognized nine lawyers as Laureate Award recipients. Selected by the Board of Regents, these nine individuals — ISBA members who have practiced law primarily in Illinois for at least 25 years — have distinguished themselves by exemplifying the highest ideals of the profession. They are beacons to others who seek to uphold the highest standards in the practice of law.

2017 Laureates with Vincent CorneliusThursday’s luncheon began with a welcome reception, giving Laureate Award recipients and their family, friends, and colleagues an opportunity to socialize and network with other attendees. The reception was followed by lunch and the award ceremony.

During the ceremony, award recipients took the stage. One by one, the nine recipients were introduced to the audience. Each Laureate stood during his or her introduction, as career highlights and notable professional accomplishments were presented. ISBA President Vincent Cornelius then awarded each recipient with a medal to honor their record of service to the law and public.

This year’s recipients are among the 111 lawyers who have been selected for the award since its inception in 1999.

Congratulations to the 2017 Class of Laureates!

Illinois Bar Foundation to Host Rock Island County Fellows Reception

Posted on March 29, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Robert T. ParkMartin H. KatzJoin the Fellows of the Illinois Bar Foundation and the Rock Island County Bar Association for the Rock Island County Fellows Reception on Thursday, April 27 from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Oakwood Country Club, 1067 U.S. 6, Coal Valley, IL 61240.

The event will posthumously honor Martin H. Katz (Katz Nowinski) and honor Robert T. Park (Califf & Harper, P.C.) for their leadership and dedication to the law.

For RICO Bar Association members, tickets are complimentary and for non-RICO Bar Association members, tickets are $25 each. To reserve or purchase tickets, please call 309-762-3643 or email

The proceeds from this event will help the Foundation further its mission to ensure meaningful access to the justice system, especially for those with limited means; assist lawyers who have fallen on hard times; and provide legal Fellowships to recent law school graduates. For sponsorship information, please call 312-726-6072 or visit

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

Benefactor Sponsors

Katz Nowinski, P.C. 

Shawn S. Kasserman

Michael J. Warner, Warner & Zimmerle

Patron Sponsors

CLE: Winding Down Your Practice

Posted on March 29, 2017 by Sara Anderson

If your long and distinguished law career is winding down – or you’re just trying to plan ahead for your future retirement days – then you won’t want to miss this half-day seminar in Chicago on April 21, 2017 that gives you the basic information you need to plan every step before walking away. Attorneys who attend this seminar will learn: how to prepare a succession plan; how to protect clients if the unfortunate should occur; why adding tail coverage to your professional liability policy is a must; what it means to be “of counsel”; and things to consider before selling your practice. Please join us after the seminar for drinks and hors d’oeuvres to help celebrate the ISBA Senior Lawyers Section’s tenth anniversary!

The seminar is presented by the ISBA Senior Lawyers Section and qualifies for 3.50 hours MCLE credit, including 3.50 hours PMCLE credit (subject to approval).

Click here for more information and to register.