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Practice News

Best Practice Tips: Increasing Case Volume in a Personal Injury Law Firm

Posted on January 10, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a partner in a two-partner personal injury firm in Tampa, Florida. We do not have any associate attorneys. Our firm only handles personal injury work. We have been in practice for 35 years and have been very successful over the years. However, the last few years have been terrible. Adjusters are not settling cases and the days of three-times specials is over. Our case volume is down, the quality of cases that we have in our inventory is far below what we had in previous years, and our revenues are down substantially. Cash flow is awful. We have had to live off of our credit line for the past year. Our main source of business over the years has been referrals from past clients and other lawyers, yellow pages, and our very basic website. We would appreciate any thoughts and suggestions that you may have.

ISBA Seeks Managing Editor

Posted on January 9, 2018 by Sara Anderson

The Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) seeks a motivated professional to manage the production of the Illinois Bar Journal, the Association’s flagship publication. The Managing Editor will also oversee the production of ISBA section newsletters, the IBJ advertising program, and the Illinois Courts Bulletin. The Managing Editor position will preferably be based in the Springfield, Illinois headquarters of the ISBA, but candidates desiring to work in the ISBA’s Chicago Office are also invited to apply.

USAO Central District of Illinois Seeks Assistant U.S. Attorney

Posted on January 8, 2018 by Sara Anderson

The U.S. Attorneys Office Central District of Illinois seeks a criminal assistant U.S. attorney (AUSA) in Urbana to prosecute federal criminal cases in the district. Criminal AUSAs advise federal law enforcement agents on criminal investigations, present criminal cases to the grand jury, try criminal cases before the United States District Court, and may represent the United States in criminal appeals before the Circuit Court of Appeals.

Quick Takes for Your Practice: Evaluating Damages in a Personal Injury Claim

Posted on January 4, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Pamela L. Pierro, partner at Spyratos Davis, LLC, discusses how to evaluate damages in a personal injury claim.

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm 2018 Initiatives and Goals

Posted on January 4, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm is an 18-attorney insurance defense firm located in Los Angeles. We have six partners and 12 associates. We represent insurance companies in personal injury and property claims. Over the last five years, our growth and profitability have been flat. We feel that we have enough work to reach our goals, but we don’t think our people are energized. We have a billing requirement of 2,000 billable hours but few of our attorneys are hitting them. The partners met a few weeks ago to set goals for 2018. The firm does not have a business or strategic plan. Do you have any thoughts on 2018 goals and how best we can implement?

Justice Never Sleeps - But What if the Judge Does?

Posted on January 3, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

Practicing law can be an exhausting profession. Long workdays make it difficult to maintain a good work-life balance. The daily stress of practicing can be tiring, too. Sometimes it's almost impossible to keep your eyes open in court.

When an attorney dozes off, it can be a problem. But what about the rare occasions when a judge falls asleep on the bench? The third district recently handled an appeal brought by convicted spree-killer Nicholas Sheley, centering on a judge who nodded off during the trial. People v. Sheley, 2017 IL App (3d) 140659.

The Sheley court held that a judge falling asleep during the proceedings does not constitute per se reversible error. The court reasoned that a judge falling asleep does not rise to the level of structural error - i.e., one that "renders a criminal trial fundamentally unfair or an unreliable means of determining guilt or innocence." Id. at ¶ 16.

Sheley was based on a criminal trial - the focus was on the defendant's rights first and the judge's conduct only as it relates to whether the defendant got a fair trial. But what should a lawyer or other observer do when a judge falls asleep on the bench? Find out in the January Illinois Bar Journal.

Quick Takes on Illinois Supreme Court Opinions Issued Friday, Dec. 29

Posted on January 2, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Leading appellate attorneys review Illinois Supreme Court opinions handed down on Friday, Dec. 29. The cases are Cohen v. Chicago Park District and Yarbrough v. Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Cohen v. Chicago Park District

By Joanne R. Driscoll, Forde Law Offices LLP

For a second time within a month, the Illinois Supreme Court was called upon to interpret the meaning of section 3-107 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (the Act) (745 ILCS 10/3-107 (West 2012)), in the context of bicycling accidents along shared-use paths or trails. In Corbett v. The County of Lake, 2012 IL 121536, decided in November, the court construed subsection (b), whereas here the court construed subsection (a). In both cases, the court found section 3-107 inapplicable, although this case drew a dissent, but for a different reason.

Mandatory E-Filing Deadline Extension Granted for Cook and Winnebago Counties

Posted on January 2, 2018 by Sara Anderson

The Supreme Court of Illinois has extended the Jan. 1, 2018, deadline to implement mandatory e-filing for all civil cases for Cook and Winnebago Counties. The request for an extension by Greene County was denied. 

The Circuit Court of Cook County will have six more months to prepare for mandatory electronic filing, according to an Illinois Supreme Court order issued Friday, Dec. 22, 2017.  Through June 30, the county is allowed to continue permissive e-filing with a commitment to complete the full case management system integration by April 1. By May 1, Cook County must permit filings for all civil case types to be made on eFileIL. Read the order on the Illinois Courts website to see the full list of conditions.

This extension comes after a request early last month from Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown to push back the start date a full year, stating that the county's vendor, Tyler Technologies, could not fully meet the deadline. The Circuit Clerk's office will work with Tyler to meet the extended deadline, including the testing of essential functionality.

Spotlight on Pro Bono: Tick Tock. New Year’s Resolution? Find Time.

Posted on January 2, 2018 by Sara Anderson

By Teri Ross, Program Director, Illinois Legal Aid Online

Like many Illinois attorneys, I recently completed my ARDC registration. Like some of you, I had to answer “Mandatory Pro Bono Information” questions. In particular, this one stood out:

"Did you within the past twelve months, provide any pro bono legal services? Yes or No"

Well, honestly (as my mother used to say), who wants to answer ‘No’ to that? There must have been something I’d done that I could report on. Think, think, think. I reflect on my extracurricular activities in 2017 — scout mom, active church member, elementary school volunteer, letter writer, and other social justice advocacy. Can I report on any of that?

Now, it’s not like I don’t know what pro bono is. I work for a non-profit legal aid organization that offers great, online information about pro bono, not to mention a whole directory of Illinois pro bono opportunities. My problem is that I really haven’t done any pro bono work. I am a lawyer, so of course, I could try to justify some of my activities listed above to wedge (awkwardly) into the pro bono categories. But the truth is, I have not done anything outside of my paid employment that equates to “legal services to a person/persons of limited means.”

Best Practice Tips: Associate Attorneys as a Succession Strategy

Posted on December 26, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. My firm is a Tucson, Arizona business litigation firm. We have four founding partners and four associates. The partners are in their late fifties and early sixties. All four of us are contemplating retirement in the next 8–10 years. We are assuming that our associates will be willing to step up and buy out our interests. We have not had any discussions with our associates concerning this. Your thoughts are appreciated.

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