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Best Practice: How to compensate new associate who brings a book of business

Posted on May 21, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the sole owner of a law firm in Walnut Creek, California. I have three associates and five staff members in the firm. I am looking to hire another associate. The associate I am considering has been out on his own for five years - no office and no employees. He would bring around 30 active matters with him. I was thinking of paying him a salary with a discretionary bonus based upon performance. Fees originated and generated would be a major component of the performance determination that would impact future salary increases, bonuses, and eligibility for partnership. However, I believe that I must do something with regard to the business that he brings with him. I would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.

Many ISBA books now come with free Fastbook download

Posted on May 21, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA books cover a wide range of subjects, are written by recognized authorities, and most titles are now bundled with a complimentary Fastbook PDF download. As our Fastbooks are readable on computers, tablets, and other mobile devices, it is now even easier to have the law at your fingertips! And as always, ISBA members get a significant discount on nearly everything in our store at

CLE: The Do's and Don'ts of the BAIID Machine - Live Webcast!

Posted on May 20, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Join us from the comfort of your home or office on Friday, June 6th, for this one-hour live webcast that discusses the "science" and practical use of the Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) machine. Attorneys and judges who practice in the DUI and traffic court arena (including license reinstatement hearings) who attend this webcast will better understand: what the BAIID machine is and who is eligible to use the BAIID under Illinois law; who monitors and manages the BAIID program; the driver’s rights and responsibilities regarding the installation and use of the BAIID machine; and the criminal consequences for tampering with the BAIID machine or violating the BAIID permit.

The program is presented by the ISBA Traffic Laws & Courts Section and qualifies for 1.0 hour MCLE credit.

Click here for more information and to register.

Illinois Supreme Court disbars 10, suspends 17 in latest disciplinary filing

Posted on May 19, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on May 16, 2014, during the May Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.


  • Michael Nunan Cook, Belleville

Mr. Cook, who was licensed in 1999, was disbarred on consent. He pled guilty to federal criminal charges of possessing heroin and unlawfully using a controlled substance while in possession of firearms. At the time of his arrest, he was a sitting Circuit Court Judge. He was sentenced to serve a 24-month prison sentence. He was suspended on an interim basis on July 15, 2013.

  • Rufus Lynwood Cook, Chicago

Mr. Cook, who was licensed in 1959, was disbarred. He represented both the buyers and the seller in a transaction in which he had a personal interest. He also failed to disclose to the buyers, who lost their entire investment, about his financial arrangement with the sellers and his receipt of half of the money paid by the buyers to the seller. He was suspended on an interim basis on August 19, 2013.

2 Minutes with the President: Paula H. Holderman interviews Cook County ASA Joe Hudson

Posted on May 15, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA President Paula H. Holderman interviews Joe Hudson, Assistant State's Attorney with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, about his extensive work on a non-traditional UPL case. That work won him an ISBA Presidential Commendation Award.

IBF to host Winnebago County Fellows reception on May 28

Posted on May 15, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Winnebago County attorneys Joseph Dailing, Bobbie Holzwarth and Nancy Hyzer will be honored by the Fellows of the Illinois Bar Foundation at a reception on Wednesday, May 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Prairie Street Brewhouse, 200 Prairie St., in Rockford.

The extraordinary attorneys are being honored for their professionalism and commitment to assist the legal profession in serving the public. The mission of the Illinois Bar Foundation is to ensure meaningful access to the justice system, especially for those with limited means, and to assist lawyers who have fallen upon hard times.

Individual tickets are $40 per person. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (312) 726-6072. The Illinois Bar Foundation is located at 20 S. Clark St., Suite 910, Chicago, IL  60603. Information also is available at

Illinois Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in Ottawa

Posted on May 15, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois Supreme Court will be taking to the road next week, hearing two oral arguments in the historic courthouse in Ottawa.

It is part of the Court's and Chief Justice Rita B. Garman's initiative "to bring the Court to the people we serve" and its continuing goal for transparency in the judicial process.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments beginning at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 in the Third District Appellate Courthouse, 1004 Columbus Street, Ottawa, Ill. The Appellate Court building was originally built, and completed in 1860, to house the Illinois Supreme Court when it traveled to three locations—Ottawa, Mount Vernon and Springfield.

The May 21 program reaches out to area teachers, schools and students. In addition to the Supreme Court, the program is sponsored by the Illinois State Bar Association, the Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts and the Third District Appellate Court.

Teachers and students from LaSalle-Peru High School, Ottawa High School and Marquette Academy in Ottawa will be participating in the program either by attending the arguments live, or witnessing them live-streamed on the Internet via

The Administrative Office also will record and post the video of the arguments to the Court’s website at
The public is invited, though seating will be limited in the courtroom and in an adjoining room where the arguments can be viewed and heard on a monitor. Those wishing to attend are asked to arrive by 10:30 a.m.

Ethics Question of the Week: Can I settle a malpractice claim directly with client?

Posted on May 15, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Q. I committed legal malpractice in a small dollar case. Can I settle my client’s claim against me directly with the client?

A. Comment [15] to Rule 1.8 explains that such settlement agreements are not prohibited.  However, Rule 1.8(h)(2) expressly provides that a lawyer cannot settle a malpractice claim (or potential claim) by a former or unrepresented client unless the client is advised in writing of the desirability of seeking the advice of independent legal counsel and is given a reasonable opportunity to do so.

ISBA members can browse past ISBA Ethics Opinions, access our Ethics Hotline, and other resources on the ISBA Ethics Page.

[DisclaimerThese questions are representative of calls received on the ISBA’s ethics hotline.  The information provided below is meant as an educational tool to highlight potentially applicable Illinois RPC or other ethics resources that might help the lawyer answer the question posed.  The information provided isn’t legal advice.  Because every situation is different, often complex, and the law is constantly evolving, you shouldn’t rely upon this general information without conducting your own research.]

What does the invalidation of Illinois' eavesdropping law mean for divorce lawyers?

Posted on May 14, 2014 by Mark S. Mathewson

The Illinois Supreme Court's recent invalidation of the Illinois eavesdropping statute will affect lawyers in every practice area. But imagine the impact on family law, where surreptitious recordings of damaging revelations have, shall we say, been known to surface.

The ruling means that "in general, we do not need to worry about breaking the law every time a client comes into our office with a recording," writes Matthew A. Kirsh in the latest ISBA Family Law newsletter. "Once the lawyer establishes that the recording is of a conversation that did not have an expectation of privacy, the lawyer should feel confident that listening to the recording is not illegal."

Kirsh points out other byproducts of the ruling that will both simplify and complicate things for divorce lawyers. Read his article and find out more.