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

After nearly a year of renovations, updates to the Illinois Bar Center — the Springfield headquarters of the Illinois State Bar Association, located east of the state Capitol complex — were completed last month.

The original color scheme, materials, and layout also remain in tact to preserve the building’s roots.
The original color scheme, materials, and layout also remain in tact to preserve the building’s roots.
For many years, the ISBA invested in the Chicago Regional Office, which is frequently used as a meeting space by members. But, as the Springfield office heads into its 50th year of existence, a major renovation was in order. According to Dennis Archer, ISBA’s assistant executive director for administration and finance, “It was time for us to bring [headquarters] up to the level that the CRO is.” After all, as Archer pointed out, “When our members come to Springfield now, we are expecting them to stop by so I think that is what we really got out of it. It kind of opens up another meeting place for our members.”

In preparing for the remodel, ISBA had several goals in mind: to make the space more appealing to members and increase the building’s accessibility, all while preserving the building’s historical architectural roots and maintaining the organization’s professional atmosphere.


A leading appellate attorney reviews the Illinois Supreme Court opinion handed down Thursday, April 20. The case is People v. Way. 

People v. Way

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

Ida Way was driving a vehicle when she crossed into oncoming traffic and struck another vehicle head-on, causing injuries to the driver of that vehicle as well as a passenger in her own car. Subsequent forensic testing revealed the presence of cannabis metabolite in Way's urine. She was charged with aggravated DUI based upon her having "any amount" of a drug, substance, or compound in her urine.

Way sought to defend against the charge by introducing evidence that a sudden, unforeseeable medical condition that caused her to lose consciousness was the proximate cause of the accident. She offered that her passenger would testify that she lost consciousness, three eyewitnesses would testify that they saw her shortly before the accident and she did not appear impaired, and her doctor would testify that it was possible that her loss of consciousness was due to her low blood pressure. The trial court rejected her request, concluding that the statute was one of strict liability "as to the accident." The appellate court looked to the law of proximate cause in civil cases and held that Way should have been permitted to present medical evidence.



The ISBA is excited to announce that IllinoisLawyerFinder, our new online member directory, is now available to the public. Directory profiles for members who participate in the Lawyer Referral Service were made live on April 18, and profiles for general members will go live on May 15. ISBA members will be included at no cost, and members' names and business information will be viewable by the public unless they choose to keep it private. Directory profiles will not be created for members who are judges or government attorneys, but they can “opt in” if they so choose.

In order to find an ISBA member to serve their legal needs, the public will be able to go to illinoislawyerfinder.com and search the directory. The new directory is part of a national, online public lawyer directory, which was developed by CloudLaw, Inc. In addition to ISBA members, the parent directory includes members of the State Bar of Michigan, Ohio State Bar Association, and, soon, the Indiana State Bar Association. CloudLaw is actively partnering with additional bar associations to bring their members into the directory and create the preeminent, bar-approved online lawyer directory. The ISBA believes the new directory will provide members with the tools necessary to enhance their unique online presence and foster both client and peer connections.

For more information on the new IllinoisLawyerFinder directory, including proactive steps you can take before your profile is viewable by the public, please visit here



Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am the owner of a small estate planning firm in Worcester, Massachusetts. I have three associates and three staff members. I am 55 and want to begin putting in place my succession/exit plan. I would like to retire and exit the practice in 10 years. Would I be better off selling to another firm or attorney, merging the practice, bringing in laterals, or selling to one or both of my associates? I am interested in your thoughts.

A. The biggest challenge for many firms, is finding the right who.

The who dictates the what — the actual succession/transition/exit strategy. In other words, many law firms find that they start down one path and end up on another. Not all non-equity partners and associates want to own a law firm. Not all lateral and merger candidates will be a good fit for your firm and culture. The key is the right relationship and sometimes that takes the form of making someone at the firm a partner, bringing in a seasoned lateral, merging with another firm, or selling the practice. Therefore, succession/transition plans have to be flexible and often the key is not getting stuck in creating complex succession plans at the onset. Establish timelines, outline a general course of action, generate some momentum and see where that takes you. Then build the plan when you can see where the firm is headed.


Susan Dawson-Tibbits of Johnson, Bunce & Noble, P.C. discusses what you should know about the ABLE Act.



"If you think that most malpractice claims come from administrative errors like the failure to file documents, think again," writes Karen Erger in the April Illinois Bar Journal.

"[Consistently, the ABA's quadrennial study of malpractice claims has] found that substantive errors are the largest category of errors alleged in legal malpractice claims, Erger writes in her IBJ Loss Prevention column, sponsored by the ISBA Mutual Insurance Company. "In the 2016 study, for the first time since the 1999 study, substantive errors account for more than half of alleged errors. And the single most common error is a substantive error, namely 'Failure to Know/Properly Apply the Law,' which accounts for 15.38 percent of claims in the 2016 study. This validates the risk management maxim that dabbling in unfamiliar areas of practice is risky business, and underscores the importance of concentrating your practice on a few areas of law so that you can stay competent and capable in those areas," she writes.

In fact, administrative errors have fallen "from 30.13 percent of claims in the 2011 study to 23.15 percent in the 2016 study," Erger writes. "The study's authors suggest that '[b]etter computer calendaring systems, e-filing, electronic record keeping, and multiple modes of communication with clients appear to have assisted attorneys in managing their law practice.'"



In honor of Mother’s Day and in celebration of women attorneys everywhere, please join us in Chicago on May 11, 2017, for lunch and a private screening of a new documentary about the historical challenges and contributions of women in the profession of law, featuring interviews with United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, and other notable lawyers. The filmmaker, Sharon Rowen, will be present to discuss the film following the viewing, with the opportunity to ask questions at the end.


A recent change to the rule governing how lawyers deal with unidentified funds in their pooled client trust accounts has generated over $1,000,000 for legal aid in Illinois.

In March 2015, the Supreme Court of Illinois amended Rule 1.15 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct to require Illinois lawyers to remit unidentified funds in these client trust accounts to the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois after a 12-month due diligence process to determine who owns the funds. Since the new rule went into effect on July 1, 2015, the Lawyers Trust Fund (LTF) has received $1,007,829.21.

“For the 1.8 million Illinoisans living in poverty, legal aid is the only realistic option when confronted with a serious legal problem,” said LTF executive director Mark Marquardt. “Unfortunately, legal aid groups are facing serious financial headwinds in terms of both state and federal funding, which make this new source of revenue even more critical.”


A long-term restoration project between the Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office and the Supreme Court of Illinois has led to the discovery of some rare, historic documents involving famous and infamous Illinois attorneys.

“I am pleased with the results of this project, which sought to restore and preserve a unique facet of our state’s history,” said White, who also serves as State Archivist. “Since 2010, the State Archives Department has been restoring attorney oaths for the Supreme Court. Approximately 142,000 oaths, some preceding the Civil War, have been restored.”

Justice Rita Garman with Archives’ conservator Alex Dixon examine a restored oath.
Justice Rita Garman with Archives’ conservator Alex Dixon examine a restored oath.
Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier said, “The Court recently had the opportunity to tour the State Archives and see, firsthand, the efforts being made there to conserve these important documents. Attorney oaths offer scholars, educators and students a very tangible, but very fragile connection to the lawyers who have helped shape our laws and the legal profession over the past two centuries. The Court is extremely grateful to the Archives for everything it has done to ensure that this irreplaceable record of the legal profession’s history is preserved and protected for future generations. The work done by the Archives’ staff has been nothing less than extraordinary.”


Latasha Barnes of Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. provides an overview of student discipline reform under Senate Bill 100.

To learn more about SB 100 and student discipline, A Changing Landscape: Student Discipline 2016 is available online.