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Practice News

Ask A Lawyer: What is Collaborative Law Practice? Is it right for me?

Posted on July 6, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Chicago attorney Sandra Crawford discusses what collaborative law practice is, what kinds of cases the model is used to resolve, and what you should ask your lawyer if you're interested in using collaborative law practice to resolve your matter.

Best Practice Tips: Lawyer Performance and Setting Expectations

Posted on July 6, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am the owner of a real estate practice in Rockford. I have two offices – one in Rockford and the other in Chicago. I started my practice 20 years ago and have had my associate for the past five years. He works in the Chicago office and I work in the Rockford office. Prior to this associate I had two other associates that did not work out. My present associate has 14 years’ experience and worked in three other law firms. I am not happy with his performance. The legal assistant that works with him has advised me that he often does not come into the office until 10 a.m. and often leaves in the middle of the day. Clients have complained that he does not return phone calls or emails. His production is low – his annual billable hours have never been above 1,200 hours. I am paying him a salary of $98,000. I have had numerous conversations with him about these issues to no avail. Frankly, I am sick of it – I don’t trust him and things need to change. What should be my next step?

Judge Enjoins State from Implementing DS-1 Disclosure of Financial Interest Form

Posted on July 2, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, Inc. (ATG) prevailed in its request for a stay of implementation against the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). The judge granted ATG’s request for a stay of implementation of the revised DS-1 form until a hearing on the merits. He found particularly compelling ATG’s argument that attorneys should not be required to disclose their fees to third parties and that the IDFPR does not have the authority to regulate attorneys’ fees.

ATG believed the form, which is meant to disclose to consumers the fees related to title and settlement services, does not accomplish its intended objective, contains terms that are confusing to consumers, exceeds the regulator’s statutory authority, and shows serious bias against lawyer agents both in the disclosure form itself and in the instructions for completing it.

The Algorithm Behind the Curtain

Posted on July 2, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Computer algorithms guide and propel decisions we make every day, from the shows we choose on Netflix to the purchases we make on Amazon. Algorithms also operate behind the scenes of our professional lives. Susan Nevelow Mart, director of the University of Colorado Law School library, recently published a study (see https://bit.ly/2GJBmwW) that compared how six legal search platforms reacted to identical keyword queries. She and her team looked at the first 10 cases retrieved by Westlaw, Lexis Advance, Fastcase, Casetext, Ravel Law, and Google Scholar. She found, on average, that each platform listed four cases that did not appear within the first 10 results of any of the other platform’s top10 results.

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

Posted on June 29, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The U.S. Attorney's Office Central District of Illinois is accepting applications for an assistant United States attorney opening in its Criminal Division.

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. legal experience. U.S. citizenship is required.

Preferred qualifications: excellent academics, significant litigation experience, criminal law experience, strong legal writing skills, and a demonstrated commitment to public service

Best Practice Tips: Elder Law Firm Expanding into Personal Injury and Other Areas

Posted on June 27, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am a partner in a four-attorney law firm in a small town south of Waco, Texas. We have two partners and two associates. Our practice is limited to elder law, estate planning, and estate administration. The practice was formed 30 years ago by the two partners. The firm has built a strong brand, does a significant amount of business in several other counties, and is doing well financially. Our main problem is that we are overwhelmed with work and we need to hire an additional attorney. We have interviewed an attorney with some limited experience in small business corporate work and estate planning. However, most of his experience is in personal injury plaintiff, criminal, and family law. If he joins our firm, he wants to continue to develop these practice areas as well as bring his personal injury, criminal, and family law cases with him. Bringing him on board could solve our lawyer staffing issue as well as increase our business. Should we bring him on board?

New Illinois Supreme Court Rule Requires Specific Language for All Civil Summons

Posted on June 27, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Effective July 1, a new Illinois Supreme Court Rule requires the following language to be added to all civil summons:

“E-filing is now mandatory for documents in civil cases with limited exemptions. To e-file, you must first create an account with an e-filing service provider. Visit https://efile.illinoiscourts.gov/service-providers.htm to learn more and to select a service provider. If you need additional help or have trouble e-filing, visit http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/FAQ/gethelp.asp.”

Think Twice Before Responding to Negative Online Reviews

Posted on June 25, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

More than nine out of every 10 consumers use reviews to make decisions. Nearly as many trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Regarding the legal profession, of the 58 million people who sought a lawyer in 2012, more than 75 percent used online resources in their search.

Good online reviews can be a great thing for your firm; they essentially translate into cheap and effective advertising. But what happens when a negative review of your services lands online? How do you react? Should you react at all? 

Best Practice Tips: Associate Attorney Compensation and Motivation

Posted on June 20, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. Our firm is based in Springfield, Ill. We have four partners and four associates. We are a general practice firm. All of our associates have been with the firm for more than 10 years, and they receive $100,000 base salaries plus discretionary bonuses. Our associates are excellent attorneys; however, none of them bring in any business and their production numbers are low. Annual billable hours are below 1,200 and working attorney fee collections are below $300,000. We have not given raises or bonuses for the last several years. We are losing money on some of our associates and not even covering our overhead, alone making any profit from our associates. We are at a loss at what to do. Please share any thoughts or ideas that you might have.

The Folly of Overemphasizing Emphasis

Posted on June 18, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Justice Michael B. Hyman of the Illinois Appellate Court – and one of the Illinois Bar Journal’s regular columnists – has had enough of bold, underlined, italicized, and ALL-CAPPED words and phrases. Don’t even get him started on redundant exclamation points!!! 

We all may agree that such stylizations are all too common in our emails, texts, and social media posts. But Justice Hyman says such bad habits are making their way into legal documents meant to sway his opinion. In his June "Judging Your Writing" column, the justice – in no uncertain terms – says this isn’t a good idea. 

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