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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.

Illinois Supreme Court Forms Commission to Reform Pretrial Practices

Posted on December 21, 2017 by Sara Anderson

The Illinois Supreme Court launched its Commission on Pretrial Practices today to conduct a comprehensive review of Illinois' pretrial detention system and provide guidance and recommendations for change.

Building on pretrial reform initiatives that began last year, the Commission will gain an understanding of where the greatest problems lie; how the problems vary by jurisdiction; and how laws, regulations, and rules can be changed to ensure pretrial services are fair, efficient, transparent, accountable, and adequately resourced. 

Illinois' pretrial practices are one of the greatest problems facing the state's justice system. "Pretrial detention costs now consume a substantial portion of the total resources expended by the justice system in our country. The time has come to take a hard look at whether that investment makes sense," Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier said. "Mindful of these social and financial costs, the Illinois Supreme Court has committed itself to enacting sensible and practical reforms to the pretrial process to ensure that pretrial incarceration is reserved for cases in which the threat to public safety truly warrants it."

The idea of forming a statewide pretrial commission began four years ago when the supreme court began looking into the issue of pretrial services in Cook County by creating a committee of key stakeholders in the county. This stakeholders committee, chaired by Hon. Benjamin Miller, retired Illinois Supreme Court chief justice, and Hon. David Coar, retired federal judge, met for several years to develop a program of best practices.

ISBA Offices Closing for Holidays

Posted on December 21, 2017 by Sara Anderson

The ISBA Springfield and Chicago offices will be closed for the holidays beginning tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 22. They will reopen on Jan. 2, 2018. During this time, members can expect the following:

All business and e-newsletter distribution will resume as usual on Jan. 2, 2018.

On behalf of everyone at the ISBA, we wish you a happy holiday season and best wishes in the new year. 

Quick Takes for Your Practice: Changes to the MCLE Rules

Posted on December 21, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Jayne Reardon, executive director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, discusses changes to the MCLE rules made by the supreme court.

Referring with Style

Posted on December 21, 2017 by Mark S. Mathewson

As lawyers increasingly focus their practices, a given attorney often isn't the best choice to handle a given case. Yet clients typically don't know where to turn, which means lawyers and their firms end up deciding which cases to accept and which to refer, and - when they send cases out - how to handle that referral.

Once done on the down-low, referrals have become a more above-board part of legal practice, says Warren Lupel, former special counsel in the litigation and dispute resolution practice at Much Shelist in Chicago. "There's nothing wrong with it, and it's even desirable in most instances," says Lupel, who appeared with Daniel Breen of Chicago's Breen Goril Law during a CLE presentation at the ISBA's Solo and Small Firm Practice Institute in October. "If you are not that specialist, and you know a specialist, the client is going to get a better deal if you refer."

Whether and when to refer is a case-by-case judgment based on one's confidence level in handling a particular matter, Lupel says. "You don't have to be the best lawyer in the country or the county to keep the file," he says. "But if you're a real estate lawyer, and you get a medical malpractice case, that decision should be easy."

Other judgments are trickier, he says. "You may handle small personal injury cases, and this is a big one. Maybe you don't refer it."

Temporary ISBA Service Interruption Scheduled on Dec. 29-30

Posted on December 20, 2017 by Sara Anderson

All ISBA systems will be down due to electrical work beginning Friday, Dec. 29 at 8 a.m. until Saturday, Dec. 30 at 12 p.m. (noon). During this time the ISBA website will not be available. As a result you will also not be able to log into Fastcase, online CLE, and ISBA Central. Here is what you need to know and steps you can take to ensure continued service.

Online CLE

You will not be able to access online CLE at all during the outage. If you need to complete CLE credit before the end of the year, we strongly urge you to plan to finalize that before the outage. 

ISBA Central Communities and Discussion Groups

Discussion groups will still be available via email, but you will not be able to log into ISBA Central. (Note: if you are already logged into the ISBA website, you may be able to access ISBA Central by going to it directly at


For members who need to access Fastcase during this time, please follow the instructions below.

Best Practice Tips: Expectations for Associate Attorney Billable Hours

Posted on December 20, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm is a six-attorney estate planning/probate firm in Mesa, Arizona. There are three partners and three associates in the firm. We have had associates for the last eight years and have never made money from them. Last year we decided to implement a billable hour expectation of 1,800 hours for the associates. A year later, no one is even close. Only one associate has reached 1,500 hours. Is our expectation reasonable? Your insight is appreciated.

Three ABA House of Delegates Openings to Be Filled in January

Posted on December 19, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Three ABA House of Delegates positions remain open after the Dec. 9, 2017, Assembly meeting at the Midyear Meeting in Chicago. These three positions will be filled by the Board of Governors at the Jan. 26, 2018 meeting.

One available position is for an at-large delegate from outside Cook County. This at-large delegate’s term will commence immediately. This delegate will be part of the ISBA delegation at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver in Feb., 2018. and the term will end at the conclusion of the ISBA Annual meeting in June, 2019. 

Two “Under 35” delegate positions are also available, one from Cook County and one from outside Cook County. These “Under 35” delegates will serve for two year terms commencing in June 2018, and will begin their service at the ABA annual meeting in Chicago in Aug. 2018.

All persons seeking appointment must be members of the ISBA in good standing from the appropriate area.  

Interested persons should submit a letter of self-nomination and qualifications, including relevant ISBA service, to the executive director no later than Jan. 12, 2018. Interested persons may also contact their Board of Governor representative. Board member nominations will be allowed from the floor at the Jan. 26 Board of Governors meeting.

Questions should be directed to the ISBA executive director’s office by contacting Kim Weaver by e-mail or by phone at 800-252-8908. 

CLE: Clearing the Skies - How to Fly with the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Program

Posted on December 18, 2017 by Sara Anderson

Get the information you need on Illinois’ new Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Program with this online seminar on January 17, 2018. Attorneys practicing in federal court –  particularly those in the Northern District of Illinois – need to know about the new program, including the common pitfalls and traps to avoid. Our panel of presenters offer their unique perspectives as they discuss the pilot program and show you how it can be used to enhance your practice and promote settlement. Online attendees are encouraged to offer input and ask questions via the chat box feature.