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Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the managing partner of a 35 attorney firm in Washington D.C. Governance consists of the full partnership on some management matters, myself at the next level, and a firm administrator. The administrator and I meet regularly to review accomplishments - but it seems like initiatives take forever to get implemented or never get implemented at all. Some are initiatives on my plate and some are initiatives on the administrator's plate. What are your thoughts?

A. I assume that you are a part time managing partner and that you are also servicing clients full time as well. It is difficult serving two masters - the firm (non-billable time) and your clients (billable time). Firm management issues always seem to take a back seat to client priorities. To do otherwise requires that you be very focused and effective time manager. You must balance both balls at the same time. Your administrator has a similar problem. His or her priorities are often focused on day-to-day operations management and there never seems to be time - especially large chunks of time - for long-term projects. Law firms have a hard time getting long term initiatives or projects such as the following implemented:



Karen Enright

Russell Scott
The Illinois State Bar Association's Board of Governors met for its quarterly meeting on Friday in Chicago. The Board elected Belleville attorney Russell Scott to be secretary and Chicago attorney Karen Enright to be treasurer. Judge Leonard Murray was named to fill a Cook County vacancy in the ISBA Assembly. Scott is a Senior Litigation Officer with Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C. and is Co-Manager of the Firm's Southern Illinois Practice Group. He is a past president of the Illinois Bar Foundation and was a inducted into the Academy of Illinois Lawyers in 2009. Enright has a personal injury trial practice and is a partner with Winters Enright Salzeta & O'Brien, L.L.C. in Chicago.

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced the appointment of Daniel Lawrence Peters as a Circuit Judge of Cook County, Fourth Subcircuit. This fills the position opened by the retirement of the Hon. Jennifer Duncan-Brice. It is effective Aug. 1 and terminates on Dec. 3, 2012.

ISBA’s Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reports from Springfield on new legislation, including Legal Services Funding, Illinois Radon Awareness Act, Local Government Reporting Requirements, New Jurors and Fitness Hearings. View previous editions of the Statehouse Review.

In the latest Trusts and Estates newsletter, Mary Cascino flags an unintended and unwelcome byproduct of the new POA Act, which took effect July 1, and proposes some language to remedy the problem. The new Act "revises the statutory form in Section 3.3(c)...to state in paragraph 1 of the form: 'I...hereby revoke all prior powers of attorney...,'" Cascino writes. The problem? That language can be read to revoke not only prior statutory POAs but also routine limited agencies, including "special or limited powers of attorney such as those on file at a bank, investment house or corporation records." Not good. She recommends that lawyers avoid trouble by adding the word "statutory" to the new statutory form so it reads thusly: "I...hereby revoke all prior statutory powers of attorney...." Cascino notes that HB 1712, passed by the General Assembly but not yet signed by the governor, is designed to cure the problem by "identifying powers of attorney that would be excluded from such revocation...." But it won't take effect until January 1, 2012, assuming Governor Quinn signs it as expected. Her proposed fix would cover the gap between 7/1/11 and 1/1/12.


Judges Diane M. Shelley and Leonard Murray
ISBA's Joyce Williams to receive Chairperson's Award Cook County Judge Diane M. Shelley will be installed as chair of the Illinois Judicial Council at the organization’s 29th annual Installation and Awards Ceremony on Saturday, July 16, at the historic Parkway Ballroom, 45th and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, in Chicago. Chicago television anchor Diann Burns will act as Mistress of Ceremonies, and Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans will handle the swearing-in of new officers. Judge Shelley will succeed Judge Leonard Murray as Chair of the Council. Founded in 1982, the Illinois Judicial Council addresses problems common to black judges in Illinois and strives to enhance the image of the judiciary by serving as a collective voice in strong support of its members. This year’s ceremony will feature a tribute to the founders of the Council, including current members Judge Everette A. Braden (Ret.); Judges Sophia Hall; Blanche Manning; and, Judge Albert S. Porter (Ret.). Justice Marcus R. Salone of the Illinois Appellate Court First District will receive the Kenneth E.

As part of a special promotion, Dell is offering 25% off computers to ISBA members. This offer starts July 16 and continues through July 29. Call in only – please call an agent at (800) 695-8133 and use promo code “Hot Summer Savings” to receive the discount.

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC Q. I am an 11-year attorney practicing at a small firm on the west coast. We currently focus on business litigation, employment litigation, corporate formation, bankruptcy, wills and trusts, and personal injury. We are trying to expand our practice into the area of insurance defense. To that end, I have been sending out correspondence to insurance companies offering my services in defense of general liability, property/casualty, and employment practices claims.  My goal would be to develop a regular stream of business from these types of cases, and to cross-market our other services to clients that come through insurance defense referrals. I am not sure if I am going about this the right way, and would like to seek your counsel. A. In all honesty, I have more firms asking how to diversify out of insurance defense into more self-insured and direct representation work. If you want to pursue this market you will need to become part of the club and do more than just dabble in this area. You will have to get on the "approved lists" of the various insurance companies. Once you are on these lists you have to entice claims manager to use you as opposed to other law firms that are on their approved lists. In other words, establish relationships with numerous claims manager throughout the company. This is harder than it used to be due to policies that many companies now have prohibiting various forms of networking such as dinners, gifts, ball games, etc. Now days it seems that educational venues is one of the few formats that is not frowned upon. You may also find that some companies reluctant to work with a firm your size.

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 June 2011 ISBA helped people in need of legal services find lawyers in the following areas:
  • Administrative Law - 11
  • Animal Law - 6
  • Bankruptcy - 19
  • Business Law - 14
  • Civil Disputes - 71

By Michael T. Reagan, The Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan In Wirtz v. Quinn, Justice Burke wrote for a unanimous court in reversing the appellate court’s Opinion which had declared the 2009 Capital Projects Acts unconstitutional. This Opinion will serve as a modern Baedeker for the law of legislative drafting. This action, brought by Rockwell Wirtz and Wirtz Beverage Illinois, LLC, on behalf of taxpayers generally, was initiated by a complaint seeking to enjoin the disbursement of public funds pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/11-303. The statute requires that the action be commenced by filing a petition for leave to file, and requires that the circuit court find reasonable ground for filing before the complaint may be filed. The circuit court concluded that reasonable ground did not exist, and denied the petition. The appellate court found that PA 96-34 "An Act Concerning Revenue" violated Article IV, § 8(d) of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, the single subject clause. The remaining three acts, consisting of an Appropriation Bill, a Trailer Bill and a Budget Implementation Bill, each expressly provided that it was passed contingent upon PA 96-34 becoming law. Because the appellate court found that PA 96-34 was void in its entirety, the remaining three bills were found to fall as well because of that contingency. The appellate court did not then have occasion to take up any of the other constitutional challenges to the bills. The supreme court granted the Petition for Leave to Appeal filed by the numerous governmental defendants and handled the case in a compressed timeframe. The supreme court reversed the appellate court’s holding that PA 96-34 violated the single subject clause. Then, in the interest of judicial economy, and perhaps in recognition of the practical fiscal importance of this dispute, the court addressed all of the other constitutional challenges pled in the taxpayers’ complaint, rather than remanding the case to the appellate court.