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Practice-launching tips for solos and small firms

Posted on January 22, 2014 by Mark S. Mathewson

Time to strike out on your own? Veteran practitioners help you get off to a good start - and avoid common missteps - with tips on marketing, billing, technology, retainers, client management, and more in the February Illinois Bar Journal.

Illinois Supreme Court disbars 2, suspends 17 in latest disciplinary filing

Posted on January 22, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on January 17, 2014, during the January Term of Court (unless noted). Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.


  • Lonnie L. Lutz, Charleston

Mr. Lutz, who was licensed to practice in 1977, was disbarred on consent. He committed a criminal act, battery, when he inappropriately touched three different female clients when he was serving as their assigned public defender.

  • Gary Evan Peel, Glen Carbon

Mr. Peel, who was licensed in 1968, was disbarred after a federal conviction for bankruptcy fraud and possession of child pornography. He was suspended on an interim basis on January 11, 2008.


  • Jeremy Scott Brenman, Merrillville, Ind.

Mr. Brenman, who was licensed in 1997, was suspended for three years and until further order of the Court. He committed the criminal acts of domestic battery, driving under the influence, failing to stop at an accident scene, unlawful possession of firearms, harassment, intimidation, criminal trespass, invasion of privacy and battery. Further, he failed to notify the ARDC of criminal convictions in California and Indiana and then failed to cooperate with the ARDC investigation into his misconduct.

CLE: Advanced Workers’ Compensation – 2014

Posted on January 21, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Get the updates you need to practice with confidence with this full-day seminar that examines a broad spectrum of advanced workers’ compensation issues! Join us in Chicago OR Fairview Heights on Monday, Feb. 17for a discussion on the pitfalls to avoid throughout the Appellate process, how the Commission uses impairment ratings, and the ins-and-outs of a Section 12 examination, as well as a look at the updates to current case law. Labor/employment attorneys and workers’ compensation practitioners with advanced levels of practice experience who attend this seminar will better understand: the deadlines for a proceeding before the Arbitrator and Commission; how to apply the new AMA guidelines; how to avoid dismissal by the Appellate Court for failing to perfect your appeal; interlocutory orders from the Commission and Circuit Court; how a physician performs an impairment rating examination and how the impairment rating affects the permanency awards at the Commission; the various ethical issues workers’ compensation attorneys may face; and much more!

The seminar is presented by the ISBA Workers’ Compensation Section and qualifies for 5.75 hours MCLE credit, including 1.0 hour Professional Responsibility MCLE credit (subject to approval).

Click here for more information and to register.

Best Practice: Law Firm Associate Compensation - Incentives for Improving Production

Posted on January 21, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the managing partner for a 18-attorney insurance defense firm in Atlanta. We have 6 partners and 12 associates. Most of our associates have 10 years plus experience. They receive a salary plus discretionary bonus. We are having problems with six of the associates not reaching performance goals. (1,800 minimum billable hours per year.) While we have some attorneys billing 2,400+ hours per year - these six are not - some are billing 1,400 hours. What sort of incentive should we be thinking about to improve their performance?

A. The incentive is to get to continue their employment, maintain a full work schedule, progress to partnership, and to receive future pay raises and bonuses.

I know of some insurance defense firms that pay a billable hour bonus above a certain level. However, this approach often causes other problems such as milking hours in client files and overbilling often resulting in client dissatisfaction and potential loss of key clients. In addition, other factors are also important - quality of work, results obtained, teamwork, client relationships (minding) etc. that are often not considered and left out of the equation.

Illinois Supreme Court scheduled to release six opinions Friday morning

Posted on January 21, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois Supreme Court is expected to release opinions in the following six cases on Friday, Jan. 24. Quick Takes on each case will be published in Monday's E-Clips due to ISBA network downtime.

  • No. 115308 - People State of Illinois, appellant, v. David K. Elliott, appellee. Appeal, Appellate Court, Fifth District.
  • No. 115310 - People State of Illinois, appellee, v. Billy McChriston, appellant. Appeal, Appellate Court, Fourth District.
  • No. 115330 - Gillespie Community Unit School District No. 7, etc., appellant, v. Wight & Company, etc., appellee. Appeal, Appellate Court, Fourth District.
  • No. 115424 - In re S.L., a Minor (People State of Illinois, appellant, v. Julia F., appellee). Appeal, Appellate Court, Fifth District.
  • No. 115459 - People State of Illinois, appellee, v. Christopher B. Bailey, appellant. Appeal, Appellate Court, Second District.
  • No. 115638 - People State of Illinois, appellee, v. Peter Hommerson, appellant. Appeal, Appellate Court, Second District.

From Myra Bradwell to Us: Rise Up and Reach Back set for March 21

Posted on January 17, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

What is Myra Bradwell’s legacy to us as attorneys and future attorneys and what is our commitment to carrying forward that legacy? Find out at From Myra Bradwell to Us: Rise Up and Reach Back on Friday, March 21, 2014 at the NIU College of Law. The program will run from 3-5 p.m. with a reception from 5-7 p.m. This event is presented by the ISBA’s Standing Committees on Women and the Law and Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law.

In order to fund this epic event, the ISBA is relying on public contributions & sponsorships. All contributors will be listed in a program and on a board prominently displayed at the reception. Please contact Rachel McDermott at or 20 S. Clark, Ste. 900, Chicago, IL 60603 to participate.

CLE: Tort Law: Back to Basics

Posted on January 17, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Don’t miss this nuts-and-bolts examination of the personal injury litigation process! This back-to-basics seminar covers all aspects of the personal injury litigation case – from pretrial to post-trial – and pays particular attention to updated and emerging issues.

Cook County Judge Laura Liu appointed to 1st District Appellate vacancy

Posted on January 16, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Cook County Circuit Judge Laura Liu to the 1st District Appellate vacancy created by the death of Justice Patrick Quinn.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, sitting Appellate Justice Bertina Lampkin will move into Quinn's vacancy and Liu will move into Lampkin's spot.

The appointment is effective Feb. 3.

The smell of money: Illinois court says insurer must defend hog odor lawsuit

Posted on January 15, 2014 by Mark S. Mathewson

"Smells like money to me." Whether or not any farmer actually said it, it's someone's  sardonic response to complaints about foul odors associated with hog production. But as town increasingly meets country in exurban Illinois, unhappiness about livestock odors is no laughing matter for farmer or homeowner alike.

Perhaps both sides got some good news in Country Mutual Insurance Company v. Hilltop View, where "an Illinois appeals court has rejected an insurer’s denial of coverage to hog confinement operators pursuant to a standard 'pollution exclusion' provision in an umbrella liability policy," as Kristine Tidgren reports in the latest ISBA Agricultural Law newsletter. Read her article.

Applications being accepted for circuit court vacancy in 11th Circuit

Posted on January 15, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman of the Supreme Court of Illinois has begun an application process for a Circuit Court vacancy in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit.

The Woodford County resident circuit vacancy is created by the retirement of Judge John B. Huschen on March 31, 2014. Judge Huschen has been a resident Circuit Judge since 1998.