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Practice News

Best Practice Tips: Strategic Planning Retreat—Need for Specific Action Plans

Posted on December 19, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. Our firm is an eight-attorney firm in Cincinnati, Ohio. We have been together for 14 years. There are four partners and four associates in the firm. Over the years we have traditionally had a year-end attorney planning retreat with limited success. This year we have decided that we want to dedicate the entire time to developing a strategic plan for the firm. What can we do to ensure that our strategic plan leads to actual implementation?

Illinois Supreme Court Announces Judicial Appointments

Posted on December 17, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced the appointments of nine Illinois judges.

The appointments are as follows:

Remove or Remain: Trying Asbestos in Illinois

Posted on December 17, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

A state’s legal standard for determining fault is a key factor in determining whether to file a motion to apply foreign law or a motion to dismiss under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. In December’s Illinois Bar Journal, Cameron Turner and Sean Phillips examine such choices regarding asbestos cases in Illinois. Illinois is a well-known epicenter of asbestos litigation, having earned a reputation for allowing cases unconnected to the state to proceed through its system. Onlookers and clients, particularly those new to asbestos litigation and unaware of its broader scope, often express disbelief and frustration at the legitimacy of such a system. Such reactions are fair, and related questions certainly are valid. Illinois does, after all, have statutes in place that allow for the transfer of cases to appropriate forums when any particular forum is improper or inconvenient. It also seems logical, on its face, to lessen the impact of sometimes-harsh Illinois law by looking to the law of a state with a stronger connection to the case when that state's law is more favorable. This rings true even if a defendant chooses to forgo pursuing a forum non conveniens argument.

Circuit Court, Cook County Finalize Schedule on Court Closings

Posted on December 17, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Cook County and the Circuit Court of Cook County have finalized the scheduled closing of two Chicago branch court locations at 155 W. 51st St. and 2452 W. Belmont Ave. 

The closures are slated to take effect after court concludes on Jan. 4, 2019.

The two branch court closings, which were finalized as part of the budget litigation settlement between the county and the court, will help the county avoid $9.2 million in repairs, renovations, and maintenance that would be necessary to keep the two buildings safe, operational, and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Quick Takes on Illinois Supreme Court Opinions Issued Thursday, December 13

Posted on December 13, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois Supreme Court handed down two opinions on Thursday, Dec. 13. The court weighed in on whether section 13-217 of the Code of Civil Procedure applies to voluntarily withdrawn postconviction petitions in People v. Simms, and in Palm v. Holocker, demonstrated the principle that a party seeking review of a statutory construction ruling must bring to the court a case with facts that implicate the statute being construed.

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Marketing—Using an Outside Public Relations Firm

Posted on December 13, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am a partner in a three-partner, five-attorney estate planning firm in Seattle. While we have a very active marketing program, we would like to do more. We try to do two presentations at seminars or workshops every month. We have a first-class website and a proactive SEO program, as well as an aggressive social media campaign. The firm is listed in all of the key directories. Our attorneys are active in the legal and local communities, have served in leadership positions for bar association committees, and have written extensively. While many of our clients come to the firm through referrals and past clients, we are noticing that we are receiving much more business from the internet. Recently, we have been discussing whether we should consider using a public relations firm. We would be grateful for any thoughts you may have.

Mending the Hold

Posted on December 10, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The mend-the-hold doctrine derives its name from “a nineteenth-century wrestling term, meaning to get a better grip (hold) on your opponent.” In a series of early decisions, the Illinois Supreme Court established the mend-the-hold doctrine, which provides that a party’s stated grounds for refusing to perform a contract bars grounds left unstated. The Illinois Appellate Court later narrowed the doctrine by limiting parties to grounds identified at the start of litigation and only when switching positions prejudices an opponent. In December’s Illinois Bar Journal, Stanley C. Nardoni, who practices in the Insurance Recovery Group of Reed Smith LLP’s Chicago office, assesses whether the appellate court’s narrowing of the doctrine contradicts precedent established by the supreme court.

Best Practice Tips: Hiring an Associate Attorney as a Solo’s Exit Strategy

Posted on December 6, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q.  I am a solo practitioner in central Illinois. I have been in practice for more than 30 years and I just turned 60. I have two staff members and no other attorneys in the firm other than myself. I plan on working another five years and then I would like to gradually exit from my practice and then retire. I want to have a home for my clients and employees, and I would prefer to be able to sell my interest to an associate attorney working for the firm. I think we have the work to justify hiring an associate and this is the route I would like to go. I have never had an associate, so I am not sure what I should look for. Your thoughts would be most appreciated.

Breaking Up Is Harder to Do

Posted on December 3, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

For the past 70 years, family law attorneys have utilized the alimony deduction to help ease the financial burden divorcing families face as they transition to two households. The elimination of the alimony-payments deduction is a major casualty of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This change will be costly for divorcing couples and may make settling divorce cases more difficult. In December’s Illinois Bar Journal, family law attorneys Nancy Chausow Shafer and Margaret A. Bennett provide a guide to the new maintenance formula, the repeal of the alimony deduction, and other changes that divorcing couples and their attorneys need to know.

Quick Takes on Illinois Supreme Court Opinions Issued Thursday, November 29

Posted on November 29, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois Supreme Court handed down nine opinions on Thursday, Nov. 29. The court determined that amendments to Supreme Court Rule 604(d) do not apply retroactively in People v. Easton, confronted whether a defendant who is able to retain counsel to prepare and file his post-conviction petition is entitled to any guaranteed level of assistance from that counsel in People v. Johnson, and articulated the contours of “waiver by conduct” in regard to appointed counsel for post-conviction petitions in People v. Lesley. The supreme court also determined that two corporate defendants were both liable in tort and their relative culpability was equal in Sperl v. Henry, opined that “transactional test” for res judicata should also be applied to the separate doctrine of the single refiling rule to determine whether two or more lawsuits assert the same cause of action in First Midwest Bank v. Cobo, and held that an injured worker was barred from intervening in her employer’s subrogation action brought against third-party tortfeasors in A&R Janitorial v. Pepper Construction Co. The supreme court also weighed in on statutory changes to the Illinois Pension Code and their impacts upon affected employees in Carmichael v. Laborers & Retirement Board Employees’ Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago, discussed the court’s jurisdiction, supervisory authority, and the framework for a circuit court to address the constitutionality of an Illinois statute in Gonzalez v. Union Health Service, Inc., and addressed judicial review of executive power in Gregg v. Rauner.