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Practice News

Quick Takes on Illinois Supreme Court Opinions Issued Thursday, March 22

Posted on March 22, 2018 by Sara Anderson

The Illinois Supreme Court handed down four unanimous opinions on Thursday, March 22. The court considered the manner, scope, and extent of voir dire in People v. Encalado, concluding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the defendant’s proposed voir dire question. Relying on statutory construction principles and legislative intent, the court upheld a first degree murder conviction in People v. Manning. In People ex rel. Berlin v. Bakalis, the court directed the circuit court to vacate the defendant's one-year term of mandatory supervised release and impose the mandatory four-year term required under the Unified Code of Corrections. Lastly, the court affirmed the lower courts' ruling that State Farm's insured could recover underinsured motorist coverage in Thounsavath v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Co.

People v. Manning

By Kerry J. Bryson, Office of the State Appellate Defender

Arthur Manning was charged with first degree murder arising out of the stabbing death of a “highly intoxicated and ultimately an unwelcome visitor at a residence occupied by defendant” and others. At trial, there was evidence of a fight between the decedent and several of the residents including Manning, who had been armed with a knife. The jury was instructed on self defense and second degree murder at Manning’s request.

5 Technologies That Can Transform Your Practice

Posted on March 22, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

Implementing the right technology can transform a law practice. And there's a good chance it isn't the shiny new tech object everyone is talking about.

"Often times with solo and smaller firms, and larger firms too, there is a feeling that a particular technology is required at your firm - where there's pressure or recommendations from consultants or colleagues that you should absolutely have a particular type of technology," says Jennifer Ramovs, director of practice management at Affinity Consulting. "And often we make decisions based on that pressure."

Best Practice Tips: Law Practice Acquisition Proposal

Posted on March 21, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a partner in a three-partner, six-attorney firm in Chicago. We have had discussions with another law firm in the city regarding us acquiring their practice. The owner is 70-years-old and wants to retire and exit his practice. My partners and I have looked over the numbers and believe this would be an excellent opportunity for us to expand our client base. The practice handles the same type of work that we do. We are unsure what our next step should be. Do you have any suggestions?

Illinois Supreme Court Disbars Four, Suspends Nine in Latest Disciplinary Filing

Posted on March 16, 2018 by Sara Anderson

The Illinois Supreme Court announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on March 16, 2018. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.


  • John F. Dziedziak, Chicago

Mr. Dziedziak, who was licensed in 1982, was disbarred. He misappropriated a total of approximately $20,000 in settlement proceeds from three separate client matters, neglected two client matters, failed to keep a client informed of the status of their case, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law after he was removed from the Master Roll, and failed to participate in the disciplinary proceeding.

Yes, You Need a Password Manager

Posted on March 15, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

Are all of your important passwords written down somewhere? Maybe on a sheet of paper in your desk? If so, it's probably time to upgrade to a password manager. Barron Henley writes in the March Illinois Bar Journal.

"A password manager is a program that can securely store and organize passwords, login credentials, credit card information, bank account information, IDs (driver's licenses, passports, etc.), and any other piece of information you might need (e.g., your children's social security numbers, your Delta frequent flyer number, or the license plate number for your car)," Henley writes.

Quick Takes for Your Practice: The Trust Fund Recovery Penalty

Posted on March 15, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Leonard S. DeFranco, attorney at DeFranco Law Firm, discusses the trust fund recovery penalty.

Best Practice Tips: Attorney Career Progression

Posted on March 14, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a member of a three-member executive committee with a 12-attorney firm in San Antonio, Texas. One of our responsibilities is oversight of our career development program for associates and non-equity partners. We have been discussing our policy of admitting associates to non-equity partner and non-equity partners to equity partner. Presently, we do not have anything in writing regarding timeline for consideration or what qualifies one to move to the next level. Associates and non-equity partners are unhappy with the present process. They want more clarity concerning their career advancement within the firm. Your advice would be helpful to us.

Pilot Pro Bono Conflicts Panel Launches in the 10th Circuit

Posted on March 8, 2018 by Sara Anderson

By Marisa Wiesman 

There are, literally, millions of people who qualify for free civil legal aid in Illinois. But once you venture outside of Cook County, there are only a handful of organizations dedicated to providing free civil legal aid to people who cannot afford an attorney. In all but a few counties, there is just one organization that provides these services. When that organization is unable to help someone due to a conflict of interest, that low-income person usually has nowhere else to turn for legal help. These conflicts are not limited to family law matters. Conflicts arise across the range of issues legal aid organizations handle, including housing, consumer, and public benefits matters.

The 10th Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee and its members have partnered to pilot an innovative pro bono project to address this justice gap in Marshall, Peoria, Stark, and Tazewell counties. When Prairie State Legal Services (the civil legal aid organization that serves the 10th Judicial Circuit) is unable to assist an applicant due to a conflict of interest, Prairie State can now refer that applicant to the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI). PILI will assess the applicant’s eligibility and conduct an intake, and try to place the case with a local pro bono attorney for assistance. While some parts of the state have attempted small-scale, informal pro bono conflicts panels in the past, this project is unique in that it provides formal eligibility screening, intake, and referral processes, as well as malpractice coverage for volunteers.

Stop Putting That IRS Circular 230 Disclaimer on Email

Posted on March 8, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson

It seems that every attorney appends boilerplate disclaimers — sometimes lengthy ones — at the bottom of emails. For many, it may be a standard footer the entire firm uses. For others, it might be something borrowed from another lawyer. Whatever the value of these disclaimers in general, many still contain some language that is not only unnecessary but inaccurate in its most familiar form — the IRS Circular 230 disclaimer.

Best Practice Tips: Demonstrating Expertise Through Marketing

Posted on March 7, 2018 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a new non-equity partner in a 16-attorney firm in Phoenix, Arizona. My equity partners are telling me that I have to do more than generate billable hours and perform quality work for clients. They now expect me to bring in clients. Where do I start?

A. I often advise attorneys that while what you know is important what you want to be known for is more important. Just having your name known is pretty useless unless it is known for something. For example, it is best to be known as an outstanding personal injury plaintiff lawyer – not just a good lawyer. In law firms it is the reputation for expertise that matters, not just the reputation. Therefore, a successful marketing program must project and demonstrate expertise. This can be accomplished in the following ways: