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Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the managing partner of a 27 lawyer insurance defense firm in Orlando, Florida. In the last seven years we have grown from 10 lawyers to 27. Our firm is very dependent upon a handful of insurance companies and we are looking at ways to diversify our practice. Our rapid growth has caused us to outgrow our management structure. A few years ago we hired our first firm administrator to manage the business operations of the firm. We are now considering establishing a business development/marketing position to help focus our business development efforts. I would appreciate your thoughts.

A. I would start by giving some thought to your organizational structure overall. How and where does this position line up with the other management positions in the firm? Will the position report to the firm administrator or will the position be equal in stature to the firm administrator and report to the managing partner or executive committee? What will be the title of the position - marketing director, director of business development, business development manager, etc.? Will the position have assistants/direct reports? What are the position's performance expectations and duties?

By Susan Zielke. ISBA Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services

As we celebrate Veterans Day, it is time to remember and thank the men and women who have served our country. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Access to Justice Initiative, there are more than 22 million U.S. veterans and 1.4 million service members, many of whom face serious challenges dealing with unemployment, health problems, and homelessness. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Project CHALENG survey consistently finds that four of the top 10 unmet needs of homeless veterans involve legal assistance for eviction and foreclosure prevention, child support issues, driver’s license restoration, and outstanding warrants and fines. Other top 10 unmet needs also have a legal component such as family reconciliation assistance and financial guardianships.

Because of the unmet need for legal services among our nation’s veterans, AmeriCorps and Equal Justice Works created the Veterans Legal Corps in 2013. Since its creation, the Veterans Legal Corps has consisted of around 40 attorney fellows working in legal aid and nonprofit organizations across the country to provide legal services to veterans who might not otherwise qualify for services. Fellows work with low-income and homeless veterans and help to break down barriers to success.

Bryan Sims, of the Sims Law Firm in Naperville and Chair of the ISBA Standing Committee on Legal Technology, shows how to save time using iPad keyboard shortcuts.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd., v. Heritage Bank of Central Illinois and In re A.A. and the criminal cases People v. Wiliams, People v. Guzman and People v. Castleberry.


Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd v. Heritage Bank of Central Illinois

By Karen Kies DeGrand, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smith LLC

Limited scope representation, a legal arrangement blessed by the Illinois Supreme Court for transactional work in 2010 and for litigation in 2013, provides attorneys the ability to represent clients for only part of a matter. Limited scope gives clients help with just what they need, at a more affordable price, and potentially brings pieces of business to attorneys that would not otherwise have arrived at their doorstep.

So how have attorneys in Illinois put limited scope to work, and what are the potential advantages and drawbacks? Michael Brennan, a Grayslake-based sole practitioner who bills himself as The Virtual Attorney (see the October IBJ for more), sees an opportunity for lawyers to develop a completely different type of product.

"It offers new ways to do things and new ways to structure a practice," he says. Partly due to services like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, "The consumer base is becoming knowledgeable before they even approach an attorney," he adds. "They're coming in with a rough draft [of a document].

"Embracing that new reality is key for attorneys in 2015. Realizing it's there is the first step to realizing that the way to stay ahead in the marketplace is to embrace what these folks are doing, saying, 'Great, I'm happy you're coming in with your contract. Let me figure out the pros and cons [of the client's own work to date].'" Find out more in the December Illinois Bar Journal.

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday announced changes to a rule that will require attorneys to go online to report their compliance with Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements.

Under Amended Supreme Court Rule 796, the agency that oversees the Court's MCLE program will also be able to send notices electronically. The amended rule takes effect February 1, 2016.

The changes mark the latest example of the Court's ongoing efforts to utilize technology to make the judicial process and legal profession more efficient.

Start your holiday shopping early with Lenovo in November! You won't even need to leave the comfort of your home for these great deals! Your ISBA member benefits program brings low prices on technology that adapts to you. Take advantage of INSTANT SAVINGS up to 41% off select systems, plus get FREE shipping on all web orders.

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Frederick H. Bates as a Circuit Judge of Cook County, At Large. This vacancy was created by the retirement of the Hon. Marilyn F. Johnson. It is effective Dec. 14, 2015 and terminates on Dec. 5, 2016.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the partner in charge of finance at our 12 attorney litigation boutique firm located in downtown Chicago. For the past two years our profits have been down and we are considering raising our rates but we are concerned that we may lose some of our corporate clients. We welcome your thoughts.

Michael J. Tardy, Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced today that the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit judges voted to select Donna R. Honzel as an associate judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit.

Ms. Honzel received her undergraduate degree in 1988 from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg and her Juris Doctor in 1991 from the University of Illinois. Ms. Honzel is currently affiliated with Mateer Goff & Honzel LLP in Rockford.