Two Great ISBA Member Benefits Sponsored by
A Value of $1,344, Included with Membership

Q. Can I participate in a one day non-profit organization sponsored “ask a lawyer” type event?

A. Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 6.5 allows lawyers to for participate in certain programs under the auspices of a nonprofit organization or court.  Comment [1] to that rule elaborates further by stating that when participating in a program such as a “legal advice hotline” or “pro se counseling program,” “a client-lawyer relationship is established, but there is no expectation that the lawyer’s representation of the client will continue beyond the limited consultation.”  For more information about these events, consult Rule 6.5.

ISBA members can browse past ISBA Ethics Opinions, access our Ethics Hotline, and other resources on the ISBA Ethics Page.

Back by popular demand! Join us in Chicago on May 7 for this unique opportunity to hear tips on all aspects of federal civil practice directly from more than 20 federal judges on topics ranging from the initial pleading through post-trial motions. Attorneys with all levels of experience practicing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois who attend this seminar will gain a better understanding of: Federal court pleadings and the issues that confront a lawyer practicing in federal court; discovery practice, including the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules of the Northern District; post-discovery issues, such as summary judgment and final pre-trial orders; settlement conferences and the procedures for a successful mediation; trial practice and advocacy, including use of technology; and an attorney’s ethical and civility obligations.

The program is presented by the ISBA Federal Civil Practice Section and co-sponsored by the Seventh Circuit Bar Association. It qualifies for 6.0 hours MCLE credit, including 2.0 hours Professional Responsibility MCLE credit (subject to approval).

Click here for more information and to register.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. We are a 7 attorney firm in Evansville, Indiana - four partners and three associates. I am one of the partners in the firm. Each month we are provided with a profit and loss statement, a billable hours report, fees received reports broken down by lawyer, and accounts receiveable reports by lawyer. In 2014 our fee collections are up significantly over 2013 - our expenses are lower – profit is up - yet the money is not there for partner draws and we are having to draw less than we did in 2013? What do you think is happening?

During its Annual Meeting on April 18 at its Chicago headquarters, ISBA Mutual Insurance Company re-elected several board members to another three-year term. They are Jack Carey, David A. Decker, James J. DeSanto, Robert K. Downs, Christopher Mullen and John E. Thies.

The board also announced its newest member, Paula H. Holderman, president of the Illinois State Bar Association, who was elected to a three-year term.

In remarks at the meeting, Jon DeMoss, president and CEO of ISBA Mutual Insurance Company, stated that “the company has retained our “A” Excellent Rating from A.M. Best Rating Company and that the Board of Directors declared a 10 percent policyholder dividend for 2013 equaling $1.7 million.” The company has returned a total of $14.7 million to policyholders since 2000.

ISBA President Paula H. Holderman speaks with ABA Past President Laurel Bellows on the importance of court funding.

ISBA President-Elect Richard D. Felice (from left), ISBA President Paula H. Holderman, Rep. Mike Quigley, past ABA President Laurel Bellows, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride and CBF legislative director Jessica Bednarz at an April 9, 2014 dinner honoring Rep. Quigley in Washington, D.C. As part of ABA Days, the Illinois delegation lobbied on Capitol Hill for increased funding for the Legal Services Corporation and against tax reform bill that would negatively impact lawyers and other professional service providers.

Suppose opposing counsel inadvertently reveals your client's social security number in a pending lawsuit despite your request under applicable rules that he not do so. Can you sue for, say, invasion of privacy and negligent infliction of emotional distress?

You can't, George Bellas reports in the latest issue of Trial Briefs, newsletter of the ISBA Civil Practice and Procedure section. "The recent case of Johnson v. Johnson and Bell, Ltd., 2014 IL App (1st) 122677 (February 24, 2014), considered this issue and ruled that the litigation privilege precluded any liability," Bellas wrote. The court reasoned that "attorneys enjoy immunity from defamation actions arising out of a judicial proceeding," relying on Restatement (Second) of Torts § 586. Find out more.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am an associate in a law firm in Akron, Ohio. The firm is an estate planning practice consisting of the owner/founder of the firm, myself, and two legal assistants. I have been with the firm for ten years and this is the only firm that I have worked with since law school. The owner is 67 and has announced that he wishes to retire. He has approached me and provided me with a proposal to buy his practice via an arrangement where I would initially pay him a down payment of 50% of his asking price and after two years the other 50% would be paid over a period of five years. The arrangement would be structured as a partnership and for the two year period we would be 50-50 partners. Compensation would be based upon these ownership percentages. The owner's asking price is two times his average net earnings ($125,000) - $250,000. Average revenues - $210,000. I would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.

Q. I want to share office expenses and space with two other lawyers, but we won’t be partners. Can we call ourselves the “X, Y, and Z” law firm? 

A. Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 7.5(d) provides that lawyers may only state or imply they practice in a partnership or other organization when that is the fact. Comment [2] to that Rule goes to say that “lawyers sharing office facilities, but who are not in fact associated with each other in a law firm, may not denominate themselves as, for example, “Smith and Jones,” for that title suggests that they are practicing law together in a firm. See also, ISBA Professional Conduct Advisory Opinion 03-02.

ISBA members can browse past ISBA Ethics Opinions, access our Ethics Hotline, and other resources on the ISBA Ethics Page.

DisclaimerThese questions are representative of calls received on the ISBA’s ethics hotline.  The information provided below is meant as an educational tool to highlight potentially applicable Illinois RPC or other ethics resources that might help the lawyer answer the question posed.  The information provided isn’t legal advice.  Because every situation is different, often complex, and the law is constantly evolving, you shouldn’t rely upon this general information without conducting your own research.

Terrence Truax
Terrence Truax
Jenner & Block LLP today announces that Terrence J. Truax – a 26-year veteran of the firm and co-chair of its Patent Litigation and Counseling Practice – has been elected managing partner, effective May 1, 2014.  He will succeed Susan C. Levy, who leaves the 450-attorney firm at the end of April to assume her new position as executive vice president and general counsel at Northern Trust Corporation.

Mr. Truax served on the firm’s Management Committee starting in January 2007 and subsequently has served on the firm’s Policy Committee since 2009.  Mr. Truax joined Jenner & Block as an associate in 1988 and was promoted to partner in 1997.  Based in the firm’s Chicago office, Mr. Truax has represented clients from around the world and has been involved in some of the firm’s most complex and high-profile matters.