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Best Practice: Law Firm Succession - Is There any Real Future Value in My Solo Practice?

Posted on February 5, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a 64-year-old solo practitioner in Arlington, Va. There are no other attorneys in the firm - I have one legal assistant. My practice is concentrated in estate planning and estate administration. I have just started giving thought to retirement and what to do with my practice. I want to provide continuity for my clients, security for my employee, and salvage any sweat equity from my practice if there is even such a thing? Personally, I question whether there is any potential for receiving any value from the practice - I think when you are done you are done. What are your thoughts?

Put not your trust in Nigerian princes

Posted on February 3, 2014 by Mark S. Mathewson

"[The case of Des Moines lawyer Robert Wright, Jr.,] is a good reminder to be vigilant about scams and to discern glitter from gold when evaluating legal matters," Karen Erger writes in the February Illinois Bar Journal. "But is also stands as a stark reminder of the perils of doing business with clients and the importance of compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct -- whether the transaction takes place in Nigeria or Naperville." Read the amazing but true story.

CLE: Experts Exposed: Expert Practice in Federal Court from A to Z – LIVE Webcast!

Posted on February 3, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Join us from the comfort of your home or office on Friday, Feb. 21 for this live webcast that offers you the insights you need to select/present your own expert and successfully attack the expert of opposing counsel. Get the bench's perspective on expert practice, including the most common mistakes litigators make in expert practice. Attorneys practicing law in the federal court – with all levels of practice experience – who attend this live webcast will better understand: what's required to qualify your expert to testify; the scope of expert discovery; attacking opposing counsel's expert testimony during the deposition, in a Daubert motion, and at trial; and ways to improve the comprehension of your expert's testimony.

The program is presented by the ISBA Federal Civil Practice Section and qualifies for 1.5 hours MCLE credit.

Click here for more information and to register.

Meet ISBA's newest Member Marketplace vendor: Ruby Receptionists

Posted on February 3, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Ruby® Receptionists makes stellar impressions and sets your practice apart – at a fraction of the cost of an on-site employee. From their offices in Portland, Oregon, Ruby’s live virtual receptionists handle your calls with care – using your custom greeting, transferring calls to you wherever you are, and answering basic FAQs about your firm. You’ll have the peace of mind that your clients will each be treated warmly and professionally by a smart, highly-trained, cheerful receptionist. Best of all, callers think Ruby works in your office.

Your first 14 days are free, and as a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, you’ll receive free activation and 5% off your monthly service! To get started, call 866-611-7829 or visit

Save the date for "Celebrating Women in the Profession Luncheon" on March 13

Posted on January 30, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Please save the date for the Illinois State Bar Association's "Celebrating Women in the Profession Luncheon" on Thursday, March 13 at the Union League Club in Chicago.

Special Keynote Speaker: Professor Joan Williams is described by The New York Times as having something approaching rock star statusin her field.

Host committee in formation; Sponsorships available. For more information regarding sponsorships or program details, please contact Kim Weaver at

2 Minutes with the President: Paula H. Holderman interviews James F. McCluskey on CRO expansion

Posted on January 30, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA President Paula H. Holderman speaks with ISBA Secretary James F. McCluskey, Chair of the ISBA Facilities and Technology Committee. They speak about the upcoming expansion of the ISBA's Chicago Regional Office and how ISBA members can reserve meeting space once it is finished.

Wills and Supreme Court Rule 138: a wake-up call

Posted on January 29, 2014 by Mark S. Mathewson

The matrimonial bar has been raising concerns about the privacy provisions of newly amended Supreme Court Rule 138 for some time. Central to their criticism is that the rule, though well-intentioned, seems to conflict with key statutory provisions and could put lawyers between a rock and a very hard place.

Turns out it isn't just divorce lawyers who are feeling the squeeze. Northbrook attorney and ISBA member Julie Kolodzieg described a pressure point for estate planners. She noted that 755 ILCS 5/6-1 “says an original Will cannot be altered (alteration is a felony) and also requires the original Will to be filed with the Circuit Court clerk (failure to do so is also a felony)….Therefore we have a statute which requires a Will … to be filed with the court in unredacted form while at the same time having a duty under [Rule 138] to NOT file it unless under impoundment [because it contains personal identity information that must be omitted from the public record].”

Fortunately, Chicago lawyer and former Trusts and Estates Section chair Mary Cascino has some constructive suggestions for lawyers caught in the middle. Read her article in the latest ISBA Trusts and Estates newsletter.

YLD 7th Annual Bean Bag Party and Tournament set for March 8

Posted on January 29, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Please join us at the 7th Annual Bean Bag Tournament and show your support for the IBF/ YLD Children’s Assistance Fund. Initially created to assist with the opening of children’s waiting rooms in courthouses across the State of Illinois, the IBF/YLD Children’s Assistance Fund has since grown to provide funding to organizations across the State of Illinois that provide legal assistance to children, maintain children’s waiting rooms in courthouses, work to reduce recidivism of juveniles, and/or work to reduce the incidents of domestic violence in families with children. The Children’s Assistance Fund has distributed grants in excess of $285,000 over the past fifteen years, due to the widespread support of our donors and participation in events like the Bean Bag Tournament.

President Holderman attends Indian American Bar Association Installation Ceremony

Posted on January 29, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA President Paula H. Holderman attended the Indian American Bar Association Installation Ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 23. On hand for the installation were (from left) President Holderman, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride, new president of the Indian American Bar Association Tejas Shah, a member of the ISBA New Lawyer Task Force, Aurora N. Abella-Austriaco and speaker 1st District Appellate Justice Jesse Reyes.

Best Practice: Partner compensation - how to share profits with separate silos

Posted on January 29, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

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

Q. We are a 9-attorney firm in Orlando, Florida. We have three equity partners and six associates. Currently partners are compensated in accordance with their ownership interest percentages which are 35%, 35%, and 30% respectively for the newest partner. There is growing discontent with this arrangement. We have already evaluated several alternative approaches to compensation and do not believe that they would work for us. Two of the partners share common goals for the firm, have compatible practices and clients, and use almost all of the associate attorney's time and other firm resources. The other partner has a transactional practice (the other two of us are litigators) and operates more as a lone ranger and a separate silo. We are considering creating two profit pies for each of these two silos. I would appreciate your thoughts concerning such an approach.