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Practice News

Best Practice tip of the week: Thinking about retirement? Turning 50? Some things to consider

Posted on November 18, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
Asked and Answered By John W. Olmstead Q. I am sole owner of an 8 attorney firm. Two other attorneys are income partners - no equity - and the other five attorneys are associates. I am just turning 50 and am beginning to think about future retirement. What questions/issues should I be thinking about? A. Fifty seems to be the point at which attorneys being thinking about their retirement and their future. Some even consider and in fact make complete career changes at this point in their lives. Here are a few questions to begin thinking about: 1. Have you decided when you want to retire and leave your firm? Or do you want to work forever? 2. What amount of cash or annual cash flow do you need when you exit? 3. Do you presently have a retirement plan and how much income to you project that it will provide at different exit times? 4. To whom do you want to transfer your interest? Family members in law school, other attorneys in the firm, another firm, etc? 5. Based on future cash flow, do you know how much the firm is worth today? 6. Do you know how to best maximize the income stream generated by the firm - in the years ahead while you are still with the firm and after you leave the firm? 7. Have you been able to institutionalize the firm - or is it uniquely you? 8. Is the firm even marketable? 9. Do you have a succession/exit plan? 10. Do you have a plan for your business if the unexpected happens to you? 11. Have you taken steps to protect your family's wealth? John W.

ABA Executive Director resigns

Posted on November 17, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
Henry F. White Jr., ABA Executive Director, has resigned after three years leading the Chicago-based association. ABA General Counsel R. Thomas Howell Jr. has been named interim executive director. "I wish Hank White well in his future endeavors, and thank him for his service to the ABA over the past three years," President Carolyn B. Lamm said in a statement. "I know that Tom Howell, who has served the association for many years both as a leading member and more recently as chief legal officer, will ensure that the association continues to serve its members and the public through a transition to new leadership."

ISBA Lawyer Finder makes over 650 referrals in October

Posted on November 17, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
The Illinois State Bar Association’s Lawyer Finder Service provides referrals to local lawyers Mondays through Fridays.  The Service makes referrals in a number of areas of law. For the month of October, 2009, the ISBA helped people in need of legal services find lawyers in the following areas:
  • Administrative Law    11
  • Animal Law        1
  • Bankruptcy        25
  • Business Law        14
  • Civil Disputes         62
  • Civil Rights        11
  • Collection        20
  • Consumer Protection    24
  • Contracts        14
  • Criminal Law        45
  • Education Law        13
  • Elder law         3
  • Employment Law    83
  • Estate/Probate Law    29
  • Family            119
  • Government Benefits    18
  • Health Law        4
  • Immigration        4
  • Insurance Disputes        4
  • Intellectual Property        1
  • Municipal Law            1
  • Personal Injury            82
  • Real Estate            62
  • Social Security            8
  • Tax                1
  • Workers Compensation        9
These numbers do not include additional referrals made through the online Lawyer Finder service. Want to be part of the ISBA Lawyer Finder Service? Call (800) 252-8908 and ask for the Legal Department, or visit Clients should call (800) 922-8757.

Fastcase tip of the week: Constructing a broad keyword search

Posted on November 17, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
When you are getting started on a new research project, it is usually a good idea to start with a broad search query and then narrow your query until you get an acceptable number of results. Use these tips to make sure you are not inadvertently excluding decisions that address your topic.
  1. Use synonyms. Try including common synonyms for the keywords in your query.  For example, if one of your search terms is car, include automobile and vehicle in your search as well.
Instead of: "fourth amendment" & car Try: "fourth amendment" & car or "fourth amendment" & vehicle or "fourth amendment" & automobile
  1. Use the wildcard operator.  By truncating a search term down to the root of the word and adding an asterisk at the end, your search with automatically pick-up multiple forms of the word including plurals. For example, a search for contract* will pick-up all of the following terms:
Contractor, contracting, contracts, contracting, contracted, etc.
  1. Avoid quotation marks.

Federal legislation affecting business entities

Posted on November 15, 2009 by James R. Covington
There is federal legislation pending affecting disclosing information about state business entities such as LLCs and partnerships. S. 569 (Levin, D-MI) is entitled the "Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act of 2009." This Act is supposed to combat money laundering, tax evasion, and terrorist financing. It requires states to maintain beneficial ownership information and make it available to law enforcement. Other requirements include making lawyers "formation agents" if they are involved in forming a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, trust or other legal entity. This bill is in the Senate Homeland Security Committee where it has had two hearings. If it passes out of this Committee, it will still have to be sent to the Senate Banking Committee. Thanks to the American Bar Association Government Affairs Office for alerting us to this bill.

Trilogy of U.S. Supreme Court cases favor arbitration

Posted on November 12, 2009 by Mark S. Mathewson
In the latest In the Alternative, newsletter of ISBA's Section on ADR, Bob Wells writes about three U.S. Supreme Court cases of the last term that "generally (but not universally) continues its trend favoring arbitration." He continues: "These cases follow the reiterated federal policy favoring alternative dispute resolution, in general, and arbitration, in particular. However, unanimity is not a mainstay of the opinions...." The cases are Vaden v. Discover Bank, 14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett, and Arthur Andersen LLP v. Carlisle. Read the article.

New book: DUI and Traffic-Related Decisions

Posted on November 12, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
Our handy soft-cover book includes full coverage of DUI decisions through June 2009! This update of our popular book of digested traffic court decisions brings you the latest cases in print, beginning with 1986, and is conveniently categorized to help you find what you're looking for quickly.

Family law, confidentiality, and the new Rules of Professional Conduct

Posted on November 11, 2009 by Mark S. Mathewson
It's slowly but surely sinking in that new ethics rules take effect January 1. (It is sinking in, yes? January 1 is a few short weeks away.) And Illinois lawyers are starting to look closely from the vantage of their particular practice areas at the new RPC, speculating about what impact they might have on the most common, or perhaps most nettlesome, ethical issues they face as divorce lawyers or real estate lawyers or what have you. In that spirit, Marilyn F. Longwell has written a helpful article for the latest ISBA Family Law newsletter about how the new rules are likely to affect family lawyers and the special confidentiality issues they face. ("The first time my client related to her husband my advice on tactics in a custody dispute, I realized I was in uncharted territory," she wryly observes.) It's a meaty article with lots of good advice drawn from cases and the language of the rules. Here's a small sampling from her conclusion. "Refrain from being complicit in crimes or fraud perpetrated by your clients, report information where reasonably certain death or serious injury is likely to occur, but err on the side of confidentiality every time. Being on the 'cutting edge' of the law is fine in some circumstances, but in areas of client confidentiality it rarely pays." Read the rest here.

Best Practice tip of the week: Feasibility of home and virtual offices

Posted on November 11, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
Asked and Answered By John Olmstead Q. I am a solo attorney in private practice. I have been practicing for two years. The bulk of my practice is in the wills, trusts and estates area. I occasionally handle real estate transactions as well. I work from a home in office and meet clients in their homes at night. I have given thought about moving to an office outside the home, but even if I did I think I would still end up meeting clients in their homes at night. My clients seem to really appreciate this and as a result I have yet to walk away from a potential client's home without a signed retainer agreement. What are your thoughts on home offices? A. Sounds like working from home has worked well for your practice and it has caused you  to deliver personal attention to your clients which is so necessary in your practice area. I opened my consulting practice 25 years ago and had the overhead of an office and staff from day one. So much has changed since then. Now I have both - a small office in St. Louis and home offices that the rest of us work from remotely - less staff - and less space. We have downsized our office dramatically over the years and now primarily use it for client meetings/presentations when needed. Our infrastructure - phone systems, files, copiers, file servers, and people are primarily housed out of remote home offices. More and more of our work is being delivered remotely/virtually using GoToMeeting and other such tools. Take a hard look at your purpose and cost for the office and then go from there. Also, consider that sometimes we have to spend money to make money. Does the increased visibility that the office may give you generate more revenue than its cost?

ISBA Board of Governors member April Troemper appointed associate judge

Posted on November 10, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
April Troemper
April Troemper
Cynthia Cobbs, Director of Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced today that April Troemper received a majority of the votes cast by the circuit judges in the Seventh Judicial Circuit and is declared appointed to the office of associate judge. Ms. Troemper, a member of the Illinois State Bar Association Board of Governors, received her undergraduate degree in 1995 from Eastern Illinois University and her Juris Doctor in 1998 from Southern Illinois University. Ms. Troemper is currently affiliated with the law firm Sorling, Northrup, Hanna, Cullen & Cochran in Springfield.