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Practice News

Safe, Secure, and on the Go

Posted on October 1, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

While attorneys and law firms need to be focused on, and aware of, cybersecurity, they often must turn to specialists to ensure their devices, storage, and communication tools are adequately locked down.

Read the Illinois Bar Journal’s October 2018 cover story to learn how tech-savvy Illinois attorneys are setting up their devices, servers, cloud storage services, email, and other client communication tools to ensure they’re cyber-secure and safe from hackers. Several technology experts also provide lots of recommendations and advice.

Illinois Judicial Conference Reconstituted to Focus on Strategic Planning for Judicial Branch

Posted on September 28, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois Supreme Court announced today the approval of amendments to Supreme Court Rule 41, which in 1971 established an Illinois Judicial Conference (IJC) "to consider the work of the courts, to suggest improvements in the administration of justice, and to make recommendations for the improvement of the courts.” 

The amendments are designed to create a smaller, more active and engaged IJC, which will be tasked with creating and implementing a long-term statewide strategic agenda for the judicial branch.

Best Practice Tips: Associate Attorney Compensation – Five Approaches

Posted on September 26, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am the owner of a six-attorney firm in the western suburbs of Chicago. There are five full-time associate attorneys working with the firm. Two have been with the firm for more than 15 years, two over 10 years, and one for seven years. All are being paid salaries in excess of $100,000 per year and none are even close to generating $300,000 or more in working attorney fee collections per year. Their billable hours are dismal as well. While I have an expectation of 1,200 annual billable hours, none are meeting that expectation. My income is suffering as a result. In addition to salaries, they sometimes receive a discretionary bonus. I am at my wit’s end. What are your thoughts?

Guess Who’s Hosting a Business Dinner?

Posted on September 24, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Hosting a business dinner is a great way to make a good impression and build rapport with clients. Thinking through the details in advance will go a long way toward a good evening and a good impression of the host – you. In September’s Illinois Bar Journal, Karen Erger, vice president at Lockton Companies, breaks down do’s and don’ts of hosting a business dinner.

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

Posted on September 21, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

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

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 include excellent academics, significant litigation experience, criminal law experience, strong legal writing skills, and a demonstrated commitment to public service.

Illinois Supreme Court Disbars 10, Suspends 16 in Latest Disciplinary Filing

Posted on September 20, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois Supreme Court announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on September 20, 2018. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.

Quick Takes on Illinois Supreme Court Opinions Issued Thursday, September 20

Posted on September 20, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois Supreme Court handed down seven opinions on Thursday, September 20. The court unanimously upheld a state law that established rules for not-for-profit hospitals to avoid paying property taxes and ruled that law firms bringing qui tam actions against a corporation are entitled to attorney fees for outside counsel, but not fees for work done by the firm’s own attorneys. It also upheld the statutory summary suspension of a man’s driver’s license following his arrest for DUI drugs, dismissed a defendant’s appeal on procedural grounds, affirmed a modified appellate court judgment considering fee assessments, upheld an appellate court’s decision to not award a man additional days of credit against his prison sentence, and upheld a defendant’s conviction of drug-related homicide.

Oswald v. Hamer 

By Michael T. Reagan, The Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan

Oswald v. Hamer, 2018 IL 122203, holds that Section 15-86(c) of the Property Tax Code, which provides for property tax exemptions for not-for-profit hospitals and their affiliates for specific property, is not unconstitutional on its face. More specifically described, Section 15-86(c) provides that such a hospital “satisfies the conditions for an exemption under this Section with respect to the subject property, and shall be issued a charitable exemption for that property, if the value of services or activities listed in subsection (e) for the hospital year equals or exceeds the relevant hospital entity’s estimated property tax liability....” Whether the word “shall” in the statute is to be regarded as mandatory or permissive was a key issue in the case.  

Illinois Supreme Court Seeking Applications for Five Judicial Positions in Cook County

Posted on September 20, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois Supreme Court is seeking applications for five judicial positions in Cook County.

The court is seeking applications for the following positions:

  • Two At Large judicial vacancies in the Cook County Judicial Circuit. One vacancy is created by the retirement of Judge Sebastian T. Patti. The other vacancy, effective Dec. 3, is created as a result of Judge Carole Bellows deciding not to seek retention.
  • One judicial vacancy in the 14th Judicial Subcircuit of Cook County. The vacancy is created as a result of the retirement of Judge Robert Bertucci.
  • One judicial vacancy in the 2nd Judicial Subcircuit of Cook County. The vacancy is created as a result of the retirement of Judge Alexander White.
  • One judicial vacancy in the 6th Judicial Subcircuit of Cook County. The vacancy, effective Dec. 3, is created as a result of Judge Mary Nega deciding not to seek retention.

7th Circuit Court of Appeals Updates Pattern Criminal Jury Instructions

Posted on September 20, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals’ Committee on Federal Criminal Jury Instruction has updated the pattern criminal jury instructions

The revised instructions are the product of more than three years of work by the judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and academics who served on the committee under the leadership of Judge Bill Bauer. The Judicial Conference authorized the publication of the revisions. 

Best Practice Tips: Law Firm Shareholder Admission Criteria

Posted on September 19, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

Asked and Answered 

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

Q. Our firm is a small firm of two shareholders and two associates based in Bakersfield, Calif. The firm was formed 15 years ago by the two existing shareholders. We have never added additional shareholders, but we believe that we owe it to our associates to have some guidelines as to what we are looking for in future shareholders. We’re considering a partner track program/document. Do you have any suggestions?

A. I believe you should have at least a general set of guidelines laid out in writing. For example:

Associates who have been in practice for seven years and employed by your firm for two or more years and who have consistently performed as outlined below should be eligible for equity shareholder-level review based on equity shareholder-level openings, competencies attained, performance, and behavior.