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Practice News

What You Might Have Forgotten About Billing Clients

Posted on January 18, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Ensuring you get paid for your efforts on behalf of your client requires more than getting retained, performing legal services, and sending a bill. When a client disputes a fee or simply refuses to pay, how do you put yourself in the best position to obtain payment? It starts with your initial retention and lasts beyond your representation. In his January Illinois Bar Journal article, “What You Might Have Forgotten About Billing Clients,” David M. Neff revisits essential steps for billing clients and offers guidance from retention to collection.

Best Practice Tips: Improving Productivity and Profitability in an Insurance Defense Law Firm

Posted on January 16, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am the owner of a six-attorney insurance defense firm. I started the practice 12 years ago with a paralegal and have grown the firm to where it is today – six attorneys, two paralegals, and two other staff members. While I have done well and am taking home around $350,000 a year, I am not sure if we are attaining the numbers that we should be. I have a 1,500-billable hour expectation with a per-hour bonus payable for each billable hour exceeding 1,500. I do not have any attorneys who have reached this expectation. Our billing rates average around $150 per hour. I am wanting to put in place a partnership track and am not sure where to start. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Martin Sinclair Named Chair of the Commission on Professionalism

Posted on January 14, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

The Supreme Court of Illinois has appointed Martin Sinclair as chair of the Commission on Professionalism, effective Jan. 1.

Sinclair, an attorney at Sperling & Slater, P.C. in Chicago, previously served as the commission's vice-chair. His term as chair will expire on Dec. 31, 2020.

In addition, Commissioner James DeAno, managing partner at DeAno & Scarry, LLC in Chicago, has been designated vice-chair for a term expiring Dec. 31. John Kim, counsel at State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. in Bloomington, has been appointed as a new commissioner for a term expiring Dec. 31, 2021. Kim replaces Jeffrey Jackson, who retired from the commission as of Dec. 31, 2018.

Illinois Supreme Court Oral Arguments to be Streamed Online Wednesday, Jan. 23

Posted on January 14, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois Supreme Court will livestream oral arguments in four cases on Wednesday, Jan. 23.

The court will hear arguments in the cases of Van Dyke v. WhiteCounty of Will v. Illinois Pollution Control BoardLMP Services, Inc. v. City of Chicago, and Doe v. The First Congregational Church of Dundee. The livestream will begin at 9:30 a.m.

The case of Van Dyke v. White concerns whether the Illinois Secretary of State or the Illinois Department of Insurance have the authority to regulate the sale of indexed annuities. County of Will v. Illinois Pollution Control Board involves the defendant's new regulations regarding the prevention of groundwater contamination from waste disposal sites that use construction materials. 

A New Day for LLCs in Illinois

Posted on January 14, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

In his January 2019 Illinois Bar Journal article, “A New Day for LLCs in Illinois,” Matthew Misichko, an associate in the corporate department at Barnes & Thornburg, discusses new strategic opportunities for clients who are forming businesses in Illinois thanks to recent amendments to the Illinois Limited Liability Company Act. Significant amendments to the Illinois Limited Liability Company Act took effect on July 1, 2017, and brought the Act into conformity with the Uniform Limited Liability Company Act already followed by most states. With the changes come new recommendations for reviewing a current LLC operating agreement or drafting a new one. For starters, LLCs now have appointment power, bringing LLCs into alignment with corporations, which have had such authority for a long time. Also, LLC managers can now be designated rather than elected.

ISBA Statehouse Review for January 10, 2019

Posted on January 10, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers presumption of equal parenting time, bill of particulars, bail reform change, concealed carry for judges and prosecutors, grand jury proceedings, and condos and common interest community associations.  

Judicial Council of the Seventh Circuit Seeks Applicants for Bankruptcy Judge

Posted on January 9, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

The Judicial Council of the Seventh Circuit is seeking applicants for a bankruptcy judge position for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois with duty station in Chicago.

Applicants must also be willing to travel to other locations in the Seventh Circuit to handle cases. Interested applicants may obtain an application by accessing the Court of Appeals website.

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Management—Held Hostage by Office Manager or Bookkeeper

Posted on January 9, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am a partner is a small family law firm in Tucson, Arizona. There are two partners in the firm and two associates. We have an office manager/bookkeeper, a receptionist, and two legal assistants. The office manager was hired one year ago. The other partner is retiring next year, and I am purchasing the practice from him. I became a partner last year. I am new to the management side of the practice and have been relying on the office manager who also serves as our bookkeeper. I am at my wit’s ends with our office manager and I believe that she is not suited for the position. She has no organizational skills, she misses deadlines, vendor bills are not paid on time, and client bills are not sent out accurately and timely. I have counseled her on numerous occasions to no avail. I believe we need to replace her, but I am reluctant since no one else here knows what she does or how she does it. A new billing and accounting system was implemented last year and she was the only one trained to use the system. What do we do if we terminate her or she quits? We are hostages. I would appreciate any ideas or thoughts that you may have.

Taming the Guessing Game: Child Support and Variable Income

Posted on January 7, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Finding an agreed-upon methodology to calculate child support can become litigious when a supporting spouse’s income is variable. But basing support calculations on gross income and percentages of income is a good start. In his January 2019 Illinois Bar Journal article, “Taming the Guessing Game: Child Support and Variable Income,” Bryan D. Sullivan explores the benefits of using predetermined percentages of gross income for additional child-support orders under the income shares model and provides practical advice for legal practitioners when drafting such orders. Sullivan’s article also includes links to extensive tables that show how various child-support calculations discussed in his article play out.

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Non-Equity Partner Subjective Compensation Factors

Posted on January 3, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. Our firm is a 17-attorney commercial litigation firm in Atlanta, Georgia. I am a member of our firm’s management committee that decides raises and bonuses for non-equity partners and associates. Currently our non-equity partners are paid a salary and a discretionary bonus. We would like to stay with this approach; however, we have had complaints that our system is totally arbitrary. We would like to be able to provide more transparency— a general list of the items that we consider when making our decisions on salary and bonuses. Your thoughts would be appreciated.