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Practice News

Grants Help Circuit Courts Serve Pro Se Litigants

Posted on April 26, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

As more and more litigants choose to represent themselves, Illinois courts continue their effort to adapt to this "new normal" (see the October 2017 IBJ cover story.) One such adaptation is a program launched by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice late last year that gives grants to 13 judicial circuits to help them better serve pro se litigants and manage their impact on the justice system.

A Solo Practitioners Guide to Companion Animal Cases

Posted on April 26, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Anna E. Morrison, attorney at AMR Law Group, discusses what solo practitioners need to know about companion animal cases.

Law Firm Management Committee vs. Full Partnership

Posted on April 25, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am a partner in a 14-attorney firm in San Antonio, Texas. We have eight partners and six associates working in the firm. The firm was founded 20 years ago, so we are a first-generation firm. Two of the partners were the founders of the firm and the other six were made partners in later years. Currently our method of governing the firm is handled by the full partnership. While each partner has one vote, we try to manage by consensus. We do not have a managing partner or any committees. We have an office manager who primarily handles the accounting and  staff oversight. The partners meet weekly to discuss issues and make decisions. We are beginning to have issues with our management structure. Partners are not showing up for the weekly meetings and complaining about the amount of time it is taking away from servicing their clients. Should we consider a different approach? We would appreciate your thoughts.

Land of Lincoln Seeks Staff Attorney

Posted on April 24, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, a non-profit organization which provides free legal services to eligible individuals in central and southern Illinois, is looking to hire a staff attorney at its Northern Regional Office in Springfield.

Responsibilities for this position include representation of low-income persons in routine and complex civil litigation, including, but not limited to, family, landlord-tenant, and consumer cases. Participation in community legal education and outreach.  

To qualify, applicants must be admitted to the Illinois Bar and demonstrated commitment to the representation of low-income individuals. Prior legal services or clinical work experience strongly preferred.

Women Flying Solo

Posted on April 19, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

All attorneys who choose to become solo practitioners face the challenges of setting up and running a business. That includes putting together a business plan, separating trust accounts and other funding sources, and attracting and retaining clients.

Women who take the solo journey also face bias and stereotypes that can negatively affect their confidence and their bottom line - although occasionally, being female can be an advantage. That's according to a panel of women lawyers who have started their own firms and who participated earlier this year in an ISBA webinar titled, "On My Own: Starting Your Solo Practice as a Female Attorney."

Criminal defense attorney Sarah Toney of The Toney Law Firm in Chicago notes that some challenges female solos face are not necessarily related to being a woman. When an attorney starts a firm, she says, she or he should create a checklist of everything a solo practitioner needs to do, ranging from registering your entity with the Illinois Supreme Court to getting malpractice insurance.

"There's a lot of minutiae you don't think about," Toney says. "You can't just quit your job, hang a shingle, and start practicing. You need to get an EIN number."

Billing: An Opportunity for Positive Client Communication

Posted on April 19, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Paul A. Osborn, attorney with Ward, Murray, Pace & Johnson, discusses how billing can be an opportunity for positive communication with your client. 

Subjective Law Firm Partner Compensation Systems

Posted on April 18, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a partner in a 12-attorney commercial litigation law firm in Palm Beach, Florida. There are five partners in the firm. We are contemplating merging with another firm in the area of similar size. We have done our due diligence and have come across a possible non-starter—our compensation system. Our compensation system is an objective, formula-based system. The other firm has operated under a subjective system and they are pushing for the firm to operate similarly. We would appreciate your thoughts on this method of compensation.

Limited Scope Representation in Transactions - Put it in Writing

Posted on April 11, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

Limited scope representation has been ethically permissible in Illinois since at least 2010 and probably even before then. Initially conceived to make it easier to serve clients of modest means, it might be more important today as a way to accommodate changing consumer preferences about legal services.

Spotlight on Pro Bono: Another Alternative For Free Legal Services In Southern Illinois

Posted on April 11, 2018 by Sara Anderson

By Beverly A. Allen 

The Neighborhood Law Office, is just that — a law office that serves the legal needs of its neighbors. The Neighborhood Law Office (NLO) provides free legal services to low income residents in St. Clair County and its surrounding counties. Implemented in 1996, Kathleen O’Keefe, a former staff attorney at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc., was its first director. NLO falls under the auspices of Catholic Urban Programs (CUP). CUP was founded in 1973 as a department of the Catholic Diocese of Belleville and has provided charity services throughout Southern Illinois for over 40 years. The mission of CUP and NLO is to advance the dignity of the human person through compassionate responses to human needs, advocacy for justice, and to empower individuals and families to reach their full potential by ensuring access to justice for their clients. 

U.S. Attorney's Office Seeks Assistant U.S. Attorneys

Posted on April 6, 2018 by Sara Anderson

The U.S. Attorney's Office Northern District of Illinois is accepting applications for an assistant United States attorney opening in its Civil Division, primarily to handle bankruptcy and commercial lien cases and matters.

Applicants must possess a J.D. degree, be an active member of the bar (any jurisdiction), and have at least two years post-J.D. experience in bankruptcy practice. U.S. citizenship is required.

Preferred qualifications: Excellent academics, significant litigation experience, bankruptcy law experience, strong legal writing skills, and commitment to public service.

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