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ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers Mechanics Lien Act (Public Act 99-178), Child-support fines (Public Act 99-157), Collection of fines and penalties (Public Act 99-18), Civil discovery (Public Act 99-110), Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (Public Act 99-119) and Adoption Act (Public Act 99-49). More information on each bill is available below the video.

Mechanics Lien Act. Public Act 99-178 (Sandack, R-Downers Grove; Harmon, D-Oak Park) allows a lien claimant to proceed directly against a bond substituted for the lien on the owner’s real estate or funds. The court may dismiss all parties except the principal, surety of the bond, and the lien claimant. Defenses against the lien claimant are limited to those that could be asserted by the principal or contracting owner.

The “prevailing party” in an action brought under this new subsection shall be awarded its attorney fees. The “prevailing party” is defined as a lien claimant that recovers at least 75% of the amount of its lien claim, or the principal of the bond if the lien claimant recovers less than 25% of the amount of its lien claim. The attorney’s fees for a prevailing lien claimant is limited to the amount remaining on the bond after the payment of the claim and interest, and the attorney’s fees awarded to a bond principal shall be limited to 50% of the amount of the lien claim.

Effective January 1, 2016.

The United States Supreme Court's landmark civil rights ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges made marriage equality the law of the land. However, it may have a surprising impact on same-sex couples who are not married but share domestic partner benefits. Will employers start to rethink the wisdom of offering those benefits?

Todd Solomon, a Chicago-based partner at McDermott Will & Emery, says that the Obergefell ruling may have some "unanticipated consequences" for employers that offer domestic partner benefits. Those consequences depend, in part, on what kind of benefits a particular employer offers.

For some companies, now that couples are free to marry regardless of gender, domestic partner benefits may seem unnecessary. The companies "wrestling most" with the issue are those that offered benefits to same-sex couples out of a sense of fairness, observes Solomon.

"With no legal barriers to same-sex marriage, it's likely that some employers will eliminate [unmarried-partner benefits], which are complex administratively due to tax and other reasons." Solomon notes that employers that do eliminate those benefits could provide a grace period to allow same-sex couples to marry. Read more in the August Illinois Bar Journal.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the managing partner of a 25 attorney firm in Charleston, South Carolina. Our practice is limited to insurance defense. We have eight equity partners, four income partners, and five associates. Our firm is in second generation and virtually all of our clients were originated by first generation partners that are no longer here - they have since retired. Our compensation system focuses totally on working attorney dollars. I believe that we must begin to stress the importance of origination of new clients and factor that into the equation. I would appreciate your thoughts.

Governor Komie and former ABA Illinois Delegate Robert Clifford attend the ABA's Magna Carta program in London on June 12.
Governor Komie and former ABA Illinois Delegate Robert Clifford attend the ABA's Magna Carta program in London on June 12.
ISBA Governor Stephen Komie was among approximately 750 U.S. attorneys who traveled to Runnymede, England to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta. The lawyers came to to celebrate the Magna Carta’s worldwide impact while promising to rededicate themselves to the ideals and principles contained in, and inspired by, the famed legal document.

Among those in attendance at ceremonies before the rededication were Queen Elizabeth II; members of the royal family including Prince Philip, Princess Ann and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge; Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby; and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron. Speakers at the rededication included U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and American Bar Association President William Hubbard

“What happened in these meadows eight centuries ago is as relevant today as it was then,” Prime Minister Cameron said. “All over the world people are still struggling to live by the rule of law, and to see their governments subject to those laws. The countries that have these things tend to be the long-term successes. Those that don’t tend to be the long-term failures.” Three of those successes, according to Cameron, have been the United States, India and South Africa, all former British colonies or dominions.

Female attorneys need to be more strategic than men to advance their careers, says Valerie Bell, an attorney, civil rights activist, and policy consultant in Clayton, Mo., who began her career in a New York law firm and later worked for a state economic development agency.

"Being as excellent as you can is key because it sets the tone for so many other things," Bell says. "Your own excellence becomes a strategy for being able to negotiate on your own behalf."

Justice Mary Jane Theis and the Illinois Supreme Court have announced the appointment of Chicago attorney Devlin Joseph Schoop as an at-large Cook County Circuit Judge.

Mr. Schoop was appointed by the Court to fill the vacancy created by Judge Themis N. Karnezis, who is retiring on July 31, 2015. The appointment takes effect August 10, 2015 and will terminate on Dec. 5, 2016, when the position is filled by the 2016 General Election.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas L. Kilbride has announced an application process for appointment to a second Circuit Court vacancy in the Ninth Judicial Circuit.

The vacancy will be created by Chief Judge James B. Stewart's retirement, which takes effect on October 1, 2015. Chief Judge Stewart has been a judge since 1986 and served as chief judge of the six-county circuit since 2012.

Justice Kilbride's announcement comes about two weeks after he gave notice of an application process for an upcoming vacancy that will be created by the August 20, 2015 retirement of Circuit Judge Steven R. Bordner.

Under the Illinois Constitution, judicial vacancies are filled by Supreme Court appointment. Justice Kilbride will make a recommendation to the Court after applicants undergo an evaluation and screening process.

Notice of both vacancies has been posted at courthouses within the Ninth Judicial Circuit, which includes Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Knox, McDonough and Warren counties. The application form and instructions may be obtained by visiting the Supreme Court’s website at and following the instructions on the “Latest News” scroller announcing the Ninth Judicial Circuit vacancy.

Applicants must submit one original and the requisite number of copies of the application and other documents as instructed in the application packet. To be considered for the vacancy created by Chief Judge Stewart's retirement, all documents must be received in Justice Kilbride’s office no later than 11:30 a.m. on Monday, August 20, 2015.

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers The Parentage Act of 2015 (Public Act 99-85), IMDMA Rewrite (Public Act 99-90), Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (Public Act 99-79), Citation to discover assets (Public Act 99-93),  Property fraud alert system (Public Act 99-75), Juvenile sentencing (Public Act 99-69) and Temporary guardians (Public Act 99-70). More information on each bill is available below the video.

The Parentage Act of 2015. Public Act 99-85 (Kelly Burke, D-Oak Lawn; Mulroe, D-Chicago) is a rewrite of the Illinois Parentage Act modeled after the uniform act from the Uniform Law Commission. It regulates establishment of a parent-child relationship, authorizes genetic testing, establishes procedures regarding parentage of a child of assisted reproduction, and provides for establishment of child-support obligations. A summary of this Act by Matthew Hector in the July 2015 Illinois Bar Journal may be found at this link. Effective January 1, 2016.

Asked and Answered

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

Last week a firm advised that their law firm was splitting up via a dissolution and forming two new law firms. I outlined some of the steps that would need to be taken to dissolve the firm.

This week I will discuss some of the typical steps that will need to be taken to start the new law firms. Some of these steps include:


  1. File articles or other documents for entity formation. (LLC, LLP, PC, etc.) 
  2. Obtain FEIN Number
  3. Open new bank accounts
  4. Establish line of credit with bank
  5. Draft operating agreement/partnership/shareholder agreement
  6. Agree on approach to partner compensation
  7. Draft a business and marketing plan for the firm.
  8. Obtain any required business permits.
  9. Obtain office space, if moving, and negotiate lease - or negotiate new lease with landlord of present space.

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