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Asked and Answered

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

Q. Our firm has in place a strategic plan as well as a firm client development plan and individual lawyer client development plans as well.  While we have great ideas and good intentions - we seem to be falling short of the mark and not accomplishing much. What are you thoughts regarding our dismal success with our client development efforts?

A. Obstacles to Marketing

Based upon our observations drawn from working with client law firms over the past eighteen years we have concluded that marketing is poorly understood and ineffectively implemented in many small law firms. In addition, the following obstacles are at play:


There is no time for marketing or any firm developmental activities. Production is king and non-billable activities such as marketing are discouraged.

Uneasiness With Marketing

Attorneys are uncomfortable with marketing. This is primarily due to lack of understanding, training, and experience with the process.

Lack of Marketing Understanding

Senate Bill 397 (Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights; Bradley, D-Marion) changes the State tax credit of the Illinois Estate and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Act to be $2 million for persons dying before Jan. 1, 2012; $3.5 million for persons dying on or after Jan. 1, 2012 but before Jan. 1, 2013; and $4 million for persons dying on or after Jan. 1, 2013. It has passed both chambers as part of the CME/Sears tax package, and Governor Quinn has indicated that he will sign it. A PDF version of the bill may be found here, and these changes are on pages 288-292 of the 292-page bill.

The Illinois State Bar Association's Assembly met on Saturday at the conclusion of the Midyear Meeting at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers Chicago.

Highlighting the meeting was an e-business update from Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride. Justice Kilbride noted that the court is developing e-filing standards to be in place throughout the state. This would allow different vendors to have a framework to work with from county to county. He expects e-filing to be open across the state voluntarily by April 3, 2012.

The Assembly also approved the ISBA legislative package for 2012.

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 month of November 2011, ISBA helped people in need of legal services find lawyers in the following areas:

The ISBA/IJA Meeting in Chicago is underway and three new photo galleries have been posted. Please check them out below.

The ISBA/IJA Joint Midyear Meeting kicked off on Thursday in Chicago with Basic Skills Course 6.0 for new admittees.

The meeting will include the annual Illinois Bar Foundation Fellows Awards Breakfast on Friday morning, and a reception and dinner Friday evening honoring the Illinois Supreme Court with remarks by Justice Mary Jane Theis.

Two IJA/ISBA programs with MCLE credit will be held on Friday morning. “The Legacy of Myra Bradwell: In the Light of Experience,” will feature an in-depth panel discussion about the Illinois woman who became the first female to gain entrance to the Illinois bar and, in the process, influenced the future of Illinois law. “Revitalizing the Jury Trial,” presented by Chief Judge James F. Holderman and Professor Stephan Landsman, will include video presentations about various problems and solutions arising with 21st century juries.

On Saturday, the 203-member policy-making Assembly of the ISBA will convene. Also, the IJA will conduct training sessions at the Sheraton for judges who want to deliver its two student education programs. At 9 a.m., a training for a new civics program, “Bringing the Courtroom to the Classroom,” will be presented. At 10 a.m., a training for the IJA’s “7 Reasons to Leave the Party,” will be held. Eighty judges have already registered for the civics training.

Find out more and register at

Visit Illinois Lawyer Now for frequent updates and photos.

Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride and the Illinois Supreme Court announced Thursday another step to provide better public access to legal information and to improve the efficiency of lawyers practicing in Illinois.

Effective immediately, Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions, for both civil and criminal cases, will be available on the website of the Supreme Court.

Previously, the complete instructions were available only in bulky, bound volumes and supplemental inserts through a paid subscription or through a law library.

A new letter of agreement, between the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts and Thomson Reuters, who publishes the volumes under the West Group name, made the change possible. Thomson Reuters retains an exclusive license for publication for commercial purposes.

"This is a very welcome step forward as we move in Illinois to integrate our court systems and processes with the latest technology," said Chief Justice Kilbride. "This was made possible by the renegotiation of our publishing contract with Thomson Reuters, and the continued efforts of the Supreme Court's E-Business Committee to make the practice of law more efficient for lawyers, more cost-effective for clients and court information more accessible to everyone—lawyer and non-lawyer.

"I also wish to thank those members of the Committee on Pattern Jury Instructions, both civil and criminal."

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison and fined $20,000 on Wednesday for his conviction on 18 felony counts of corruption.

Blagojevich will have to serve just under 12 years under federal rules that say defendants must complete 85 percent of their sentence. Blagojevich doesn’t have to report to federal prison until Feb. 16.

Effective January 1, Illinois at long last brings its Medicaid rules for long-term care into compliance with federal requirements. Indeed, only California has yet to do so. The new rules make it harder for Illinois long-term care recipients to protect their assets while preserving Medicaid eligibility.

"The new rules are compliant with the DRA but also go beyond just DRA rules," write Diana Law and Kerry Peck in the latest ISBA's Elder Law newsletter. (Law coauthored an article on the new rules that will appear in the January Illinois Bar Journal.) "The new regulations are harsher than current rules and require the practitioner to be aware of how this impacts your clients and the future of your elder law practice." Read their summary of the changes.

Whatever your needs this holiday season, you can count on FedEx to deliver. Whether you have gifts to send, orders to fulfill, or materials to print, FedEx has the solutions to help you get it done on time. Plus, get ISBA member discounts on select shipping and business services through the FedEx Advantage® Program.

  • Deliver On Time: Specify time-definite delivery in the U.S. and around the world with FedEx Express, or choose FedEx Groundfor delivery in 1 to 5 business days within the contiguous U.S., based on the distance to the destination.
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  •  Print at FedEx Office: Save up to 20%* on select FedEx Office® copy and print services and up to 10% on other select services, including custom-made posters, signs, banners, newsletters, flyers, brochures and postcards.

To enroll today, visit and enter passcode 4JHFN9. To speak to your dedicated shipping program administrator, or if you have questions about how you can save on your holiday needs, call 1-800-MEMBERS (1.800.636.2377, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. EST, M-F).