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Asked and Answered

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

Last week I responded to a question concerning starting a new law practice and I outlined the first phase of start-up. Eventually, you must address and face Phase II.

If you are successful in Phase I you will eventually need help whether it be administrative, paralegal, or another attorney. Now you must manage others as well as yourself. More office space will be required – especially if you are currently in a home or virtual office. A new set of skill sets (people skills) is now required.

Some Lawyers Never Develop the Skills Needed or Desire to Go to This Level and Firm Growth is Restricted as a Result

I refer to this phase as Sole Owner Phase. I have client law firms in this phase than consist of an attorney owner, a handful of employed associates, paralegals, and staff. These firms may have 3 to 4 people or ten or more. I have sole owner law firms with over 100 employed attorneys and staff.

Phase II – Taking the Practice to the Next Level – New Challenges – New Skills Required

1. Additional People

a. Know what to look for
b. Know how to compensate attorneys and staff
c. Decide whether you are looking for long term vs. short term hires and relationships

2. Develop Skill Sets in the Following Areas – Managing Others – Finding, Managing, Motivating, Training and Retaining Talent

a. Hiring and Firing
b. HR Function
c. Devote time to managing others
d. Delegation of work
e. Supervision of work

3. Use the Following HR Tools and Processes


The Illinois State Bar Association announces a new member benefit: LawPay merchant account - credit card processing for attorneys.

Accepting credit and debit cards can attract clients, improve cash flow and reduce collections. Correctly safeguard and separate client funds into trust and operating accounts. 

Members save up to 25% off credit card processing fees. And, to kick off this new benefit, today through Feb. 15, the $150 virtual terminal fee is waived for all ISBA members as well!

Trust your transactions to the ISBA’s newest member marketplace provider, LawPay. Call (866) 376-0950 or visit www.lawpay.com/isba to learn more.


The Illinois State Bar Association’s Lawyer Finder Service provides referrals to local lawyers Mondays through Fridays. The Service makes referrals in a number of areas of law.  For the months of January - December 2011, ISBA helped people in need of legal services find lawyers in the following areas:


Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride and the Illinois Supreme Court announced Tuesday the appointment of Michael J. Tardy as Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. His appointment is effective immediately.

Mr. Tardy, who has served with the Administrative Office for nearly 24 years, had been acting director since last September.

"He has been a longstanding, loyal and hardworking staff member for decades," said Chief Justice Kilbride. "Since he's taken over as the acting director, he has been masterful in working through the transition. "

The Administrative Director, as the office also is called, is authorized by Article VI of the Illinois Constitution to assist the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court in fulfilling their administrative duties. The director prepares and presents agenda issues to the Court for discussion and deliberation to assure that the business of the judicial branch is timely and thoroughly managed.

"I am both grateful and very humbled by the opportunity that the Supreme Court of Illinois has afforded me," Mr. Tardy said. "I am, of course, honored by the appointment and very thankful for the privilege to serve the Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court.

"I am thrilled by the challenge and commit my every resource to the work of the Court," said Mr. Tardy. "And I am very fortunate to have available to me the capable and competent staff of the AOIC in doing our work for the Court."


The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred six lawyers, suspended three and censured two in its latest disciplinary filing. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics rules.

DISBARRED

  • Harry Ronald Halperin, Highland Park

Mr. Halperin, who was licensed in 1959, was disbarred. He engaged in a fraudulent scheme with a non-lawyer, whereby the two misappropriated approximately $750,000 over six years from a physician for whom they were both working.

  • Sarah Jane Melisandejones, San Francisco, Calif.

Ms. Jones, who was licensed in 1993, was disbarred on consent. She neglected many immigration matters, made misrepresentations to clients about the status of their matters, and failed to refund unearned fees.

  • Roy D. Kessel, Deerfield

Mr. Kessel, who was licensed in 1991, was disbarred. He participated in a scheme to solicit individuals to invest in a company called the Omicron Group. Investors were told that they would be guaranteed an annual return on their investments, that investments would be secure because none of the invested money would be placed directly into trading, and that the investors could request withdrawals from their account which would be honored within 72 hours. In reality, the Omicron Group was a Ponzi scheme that resulted in 93 people being defrauded out of approximately $1.8 million. 


The Rules Committee of the Illinois Supreme Court will hear comments at a public hearing on Monday Jan. 23 on several proposals, including a requirement for a uniform mandatory disclosure statement in family law cases.

Other proposed rules deal with plea discussions and agreements in which a judge participates; a new rule of evidence covering the inadvertent waiver of the attorney-client or work product privilege; and pro-posed amendments to rules 214 and 216 dealing with discovery.

The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. at 160 N. LaSalle Street, Room C-500.

The full text of the eight proposed rules and amendments are posted on the Supreme Court website at: http://state.il.us/court/SupremeCourt/Public_Hearings/Rules/default.asp. Those seeking to submit written comments on the proposals may send them to Marcia M. Meis, chief legal counsel for the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, at mmeis@court.state.il.us. Those wishing to testify at the public hearing may also contact Ms. Meis.

One of the proposals would create a new Supreme Court Rule that would require parties seeking division of marital assets in contested dissolution of marriages and civil unions to complete a detailed "Disclosure Statement" form to ensure uniformity of information disclosed in family law cases statewide. This statement and form would also be required in contested child custody cases.


The ISBA’s Delivery of Legal Services committee recently established the Joseph R. Bartylak Memorial Legal Services Award to honor the extraordinary commitment and dedication of legal services attorneys in Illinois. Joe Bartylak, who passed away in August 2010, was a long-time active member of the ISBA.  He was an attorney who committed his career to the legal services profession, acting as Executive Director of the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation for nearly 30 years, and helping to establish the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program.  For Joe, providing exemplary legal services to Illinois’ low-income population was his passion and life’s work.  The Delivery of Legal Services Committee and entire Illinois State Bar Association wish to continue Joe’s legacy by honoring a civil legal services attorney who also has provided the highest caliber of legal representation and services to Illinois’ low income population.

To qualify for consideration, the nominee for the award must meet the following requirements:

  1. Must be a full-time employed attorney of an established Illinois legal services organization;
  2. Must have been licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois for a minimum of three (3) years;
  3. Must be a member in good-standing of the ISBA.

Additionally, the nominee must exhibit one or more of the following qualities:



ISBA President John G. Locallo cordially invites you to attend an open house of the newly remodeled ISBA Chicago Regional Office.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 18
  • 5–7 p.m.
  • 20 S. Clark Street, 9th Floor

 Please join us after work as we mix and mingle with colleagues over dessert and show off our new high-tech facilities, including updated CLE classrooms with improved audio-visual equipment and a state-of-the-art studio for online streaming.  
 
ISBA members are welcome to invite other lawyers in their office to this event as well. Click here to view pictures of the renovated office.


ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews bills in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers: House Bill 3972 (use of cell phone while driving), House Bill 3944 (eavesdropping), Senate Bill 2569 (Family Law) and Senate Bill 2567 (Health Law). More information on each bill is available below the video.

 


Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride announced Thursday a pilot project for the electronic filing of documents with the Illinois Supreme Court.

The specific project approved by the Supreme Court allows the Illinois Attorney General, the State Appellate Defender's Office and the Office of the Illinois State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor to digitally file motions, briefs and related documents with the Clerk of the Court through a secure password system designed and operated by a third-party vendor.

While restricted now to only those offices when they represent parties opposed to each other in the same case, the pilot project is planned to be the basis for a program to be extended to all parties and litigants filing in the Illinois Supreme Court, eventually resulting in the savings of tens of thousands of pages of paper documents.

"This is an important step to get e-filing started in the Illinois Supreme Court," said Chief Justice Kilbride. "This pilot project will test a new e-filing system and give the Court first-hand experience with the benefits e-filing can bring to the judiciary. With it, we hope to build a more efficient way of doing legal business in our state's highest court and extend that benefit to parties, litigants, all courts and taxpayers."

The pilot project is another step in the continuing initiative of Chief Justice Kilbride to move the Illinois court system into the digital age with court efficiencies and related cost savings to users and Illinois taxpayers.