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

Isba Mutual

"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.'"

The following 25 members won ISBA Mutual Brief Bags. Don't forget to check out our other Member Appreciation Month contests at

Winners will receive the bags by mail to the addresses provided.

John E. Thies
John E. Thies
Attorney John E. Thies, a shareholder at Webber & Thies, P.C., in Urbana, and past President of the Illinois State Bar Association was installed as the Chair of the Board of Directors for ISBA Mutual Insurance Company on March 18, 2016.

ISBA Mutual provides malpractice insurance to Illinois lawyers.

As Chair, Thies said, he will continue the ISBA Mutual’s commitment to helping Illinois lawyers achieve the highest professional standards and guard against professional liability.

“The availability of ISBA Mutual insurance is one of the most significant ISBA benefits. All the lawyers of our state owe a debt to the ISBA leaders who had the foresight to create this company in the interest of lawyers and their clients. I am delighted to serve as chair, and together with our board and staff, look forward to a strong year.”

ISBA Mutual's Basketball, Brackets and Bragging Rights event is coming up and you’re invited!

They are opening their doors, celebrating their new space, setting up 3 screens to show the action, sharing snacks and libations… Join them to mix, mingle and cheer on your favorite tourney teams. (You can even work during lulls – WiFi is available and so are private micro-offices.)

C’mon by during game time – starting at 11 a.m.:

  • First round: March 17 & 18
  • Regional finals and semifinals: March 24 & 25

The Board of Directors of ISBA Mutual Insurance voted at their December 2015 meeting to declare a $1.9 million dividend.

"We, at ISBA Mutual Insurance Company, are so proud of the progress and advancements (free policy enhancements, technology improvements and service gains) that the officers, staff and board have made this year,” said Chairman of the Board, John G. Locallo, "We are once again pleased to report a further dividend for all our member lawyers. After all, this is your Mutual and it’s a great feeling as Chairman to announce a return of your money. Have a great year!"

Efficient operations, careful risk selection and successful investment management allowed ISBA Mutual to return $18.3 million in premiums since 2000. Lawyers and law firms insured by ISBA Mutual received a dividend for the past 11 consecutive years.

ISBA Mutual provides malpractice insurance to Illinois lawyers and is available exclusively to members of the Illinois State Bar Association.

It's ISBA Member Appreciation Month, and ISBA Mutual appreciates your need to have fun while you make sure that you never miss a deadline.

To that end and in honor of the occasion, they are handing out, absolutely free, a handy tool that fits the bill. The ISBA Mutual Statute of Limitations Slide Rule only needs you as a power source.

You don't need Wi-Fi or have to wait for a download. It fits in your suit pocket. It's fast and doesn't distract you with pop-up ads and cat videos while you're using it. It's kind of a cool novelty that you can whip out to win friends and influence people.

A low-tech tool for a high tech era? Why not? Click here to request yours. And accept our thanks for being a valued ISBA member.

ISBA Mutual shares the ISBA's commitment to ensuring members understand and follow legal best practices. That's why it sponsors the ISBA's Free Online CLE, the Solo & Small Firm Practice Institute Series, Fastcase research tools and so many other ISBA programs.

John G. Locallo
John G. Locallo
ISBA Past President John G. Locallo, a partner in the Chicago law firm of Amari & Locallo, was installed as the Chair of the Board of Directors for ISBA Mutual Insurance Company at the company's recent board meeting.

ISBA Mutual provides malpractice insurance to Illinois lawyers.

As Chair, Locallo said, he will help ensure the organization takes a strategic direction that anticipates and supports the legal profession's changing structure and needs.

"Like many sectors, the legal profession is undergoing a substantial transformation, largely influenced by technological advances that affect every aspect of how lawyers do business," said Locallo. "Our role is to understand these changes and their impact to support the development and use of best practices that insure against professional liability.

"We're also, however, looking at the impact of such forces on how we do business," he added. "The customer experience is paramount in today's environment, and our challenge is to use the tools available to anticipate our lawyers' expectations at every stage of the process."

Locallo served as the 135th President of the Illinois State Bar Association, from 2011-2013. He was first elected to the ISBA's 25-member Board of Governors in May 2004 and re-elected in 2007. He was an elected member of the ISBA Assembly from 1996 until his election to the board. Locallo also is a board member and past chair of the Fellows of the Illinois Bar Foundation, the ISBA's charitable arm.

ISBA Mutual Liability Minute

By Joseph R. Marconi & Brian C. Langs1, Johnson & Bell, Ltd., Chicago

Back in July of 2011, we warned of a then popular e-mail/fraudulent check scheme whereby lawyers would receive e-mails from alleged potential foreign clients looking to collect debts from customers. Those scammers convinced the unsuspecting lawyers to deposit fraudulent “settlement checks” into client accounts and wire the “clients’ share” to foreign accounts after the bogus checks cleared. When the frauds were eventually uncovered by the banks, the lawyers were left with liability to the banks for the fraudulent check and wire transfers.2 Since then, newer, more complex electronic scams have surfaced whereby hackers intercept e-mails between lawyers and clients that contain wire transfer instructions. After intercepting such an e-mail, the hacker changes the instructions in the e-mail to wire money to his own untraceable account. The hacker forwards his bogus wiring instructions to the unsuspecting recipient, all while “masking” his identity as the sender and making it appear to the recipient as if the instruction came from the correct sender, whether lawyer or client.

Recent federal court decision reinterprets the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and may create venue defense for current or future debtor defendants in debt collection suits.

By: Joseph R. Marconi 1

In Suesz v. Med-1 Solutions, LLC, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 12562 (7th Cir. 2014), the Seventh Circuit recently reinterpreted the venue provision of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). The issue for the court was whether township small claims courts in Marion County, Indiana (Indianapolis) constituted separate “judicial districts or similar legal entities” for purposes of section 1692i of the FDCPA. The en banc majority held that debt collectors must file collection actions in the “smallest geographic area that is relevant for determining venue in the court system in which the case is filed.”

Implications for Cook County Lawyers
In doing so, the Seventh Circuit not only overruled its own 1996 precedent in Newsom v. Friedman, 76 F.3d 813 (7th Cir. 1996), but also applied the en banc Suesz decision retroactively. Debt collectors previously relied on Newsom to file collection actions in a court in the debtor’s county — but not in the township or intra-county small claims court in the area where the debtor resided or where the debtor contract was signed. Per Suesz, for those of us in Cook County, collection lawsuits should be filed in the Municipal District where the debtor resides or where the contract was signed. For lawsuits that are already pending, an immediate motion to transfer to the appropriate Municipal District is most prudent.

Omittance is no quittance. — Shakespeare

How many lawyers assist a client in forming a corporation, but merely assist in filing the annual reports and do nothing else? Failure to advise of the risk associated with this minimal approach may now more likely result in veil-piercing to reach the client for individual liability.

By Joseph R. Marconi1

Illinois courts have long held that the failure to follow corporate procedure may lead to the individual liability of a shareholder, director, or officer. Now, according to a recent case in the Appellate Court for the First District, even a non-shareholder — who is not an officer, director, or employee of a corporation — may be found individually liable for a judgment against a corporation where he exercises only equitable ownership and control over a corporation, even if there were no allegations that he engaged in any wrongdoing in the underlying case.