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Since Illinois voters have the responsibility to elect judges, the Illinois State Bar Association feels it has an obligation to share with the public information about qualifications of judicial candidates. The lawyers who practice alongside candidates for judicial office are in a unique position to assess the professional qualities that are necessary for good judges. Here are the ISBA's ratings and poll results on judicial candidates: Download the ISBA Voters Guide for Cook County Judicial Candidates Download the ISBA Voters Guide for Judicial Candidates for all counties outside of Cook Methods ISBA uses to rate candidates For most judicial offices, ISBA will provide either an evaluation or a poll rating; in the case of Supreme and Appellate court candidates outside of Cook County, ISBA will provide both an evaluation rating and poll results. NOTE: Evaluation ratings, which are the result of an in-depth review of candidates, are the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association; the Judicial Advisory Poll ratings do not reflect the opinion of ISBA, but rather the opinion of those attorneys who participated in the poll. Find out more about how it works
Chicago Tonight host Phil Ponce moderated a panel discussion led by George Leighton during the ISBA's Lincoln's Legacy: Lawyers Who Protect Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness event at the Joint Meeting last month. Illinois Channel was there to record the program and has posted video to its Web site. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan delivered the keynote the event and called Leighton "the embodiment of Abraham Lincoln's spirit." Click here to watch the event Note: Use Internet Explorer for best results
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Kelli M. Childress, Randall B. Rosenbaum and Hon. Cheryl Cesario will appear on "Adult Incarceration"
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Ray Stubner, Hon. Cheryl Cesario and Hon. Thomas J. Riggs will appear on "Juvenile Incarceration"
Adult Incarceration: Process/Programs/Visitation/Release, a half-hour program presented by the Illinois State Bar Association, will air on Chicago Access Network Television, Channel 21 in Chicago, on Tuesdays, Jan. 19 and Feb. 2 at 10 p.m. Appearing on the show, moderated by Hon. Cheryl Cesario, a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, are Kelli M. Childress, First Assistant Public Defender in Lake County, and Randall B.
Illinois Legal Aid Online, which is funded in part by a $20,000 grant from the Illinois Bar Foundation, was featured in a recent Chicago Daily Law Bulletin story. Another $10,000 IBF grant to the Illinois Coalition for Equal Justice funds the creation of 5 self help centers in some of the most rural counties in the state. By Maria Kantzavelos Law Bulletin staff writer Illinois Legal Aid Online hasn't yet reached its goal of establishing technology-based legal self-help center in the courthouses and public libraries of every county in the state to increase access to justice for low-income residents and pro se litigants. But an instant messaging service, launched recently on the non-profit organization's Web site, is serving as a supplement toward that end, said Lisa A. Colpoys, executive director of Illinois Legal Aid Online. "Our goal is to have a legal self-help center in every county. It's not there yet," said Colpoys, adding that the computer self-help centers are in courthouses or public libraries in 38 Illinois counties. "And even if there is a legal-self help center in their county, they may not be able to access it because they have transportation issues, they're disabled, they work during the hours it's open. "We thought it was logical to add a help component to the Web site. It gives another access point for people all over the state." Launched in October, LiveHelp is an online chat service that can be accessed with a click of a computer mouse on IllinoisLegalAid.org. LiveHelp has Web site visitors communicating in real-time with a remote operator who helps them navigate the site's free online legal information and other resources - such as legal documents and application forms - to help people who can't afford an attorney find the resources they need to resolve their legal problems. "A lot of the people we're trying to reach aren't very sophisticated Internet users. Or they may have problems using a computer in general, or not a lot of experience using a computer. They may not have those skills," Colpoys said. "The operator fills in, and helps them find what they need." The live operators are law students from around the state who may be volunteering via laptop computers in two-hour shifts from coffeehouses or their law schools.  Or, like Samira Nazem - a 3L at the University of Chicago Law School - from their living room couch. Nazem is among the law students who underwent the required training to serve as a LiveHelp operator. She said she usually takes the 9 to 11 a.m. shift on Tuesdays. She said the volunteer work is a perfect fit while juggling her law school studies. "I wanted to contribute, but in a way that wouldn't require 15 or 20 hours a week," she said. "[Volunteering] as a LiveHelp operator] allowed a lot more flexibility for me, while allowing me to give back to the community." Visitors to IllinoisLegalAid.org in need of direction can click on the "Click to chat" option on the Web site for person-to-person help from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
lincoln-legacybw1The Illinois Bar Foundation announces the launch of its Lincoln Legacy Society, created exclusively to honor and recognize individuals who have agreed to support the Foundation's vision to be the statewide leader in advancing justice in Illinois by providing for the Foundation in his or her estate plan. Abraham Lincoln, the state's most famous lawyer, left an indelible mark on the Illinois legal system. So too will Lincoln Legacy Society members leave their mark on the legal system through their legacy gifts to the Illinois Bar Foundation. Become a Charter Member Through membership in the Lincoln Legacy Society, the Foundation extends its warm appreciation to individuals who make known their thoughtful estate gift intentions. Your enrollment now permits the Foundation can thank you, not your executor or trustee, for your generosity and thoughtfulness. Your gift may also inspire others if you will allow us to include your name on the Lincoln Legacy Society Membership List. Notify the Foundation today to become a Charter Member. "When I read about the Lincoln Legacy Society, I immediately felt that this was a perfect program for me. I had saved money for my family, planned and saved money for college education for my child and realized that the important things for me personally were well in hand. So, helping build a legacy for the work of the Illinois Bar Foundation was a logical extension of planning.
ISBA Mutual policyholders will be receiving another dividend check in February, 2010. Jon W. DeMoss, ISBA Mutual's President and Chief Executive Officer, announced this dividend in his report to the ISBA Assembly at its meeting in December. DeMoss indicated that the company's Board of Directors had voted to pay a 10 percent dividend for 2009 earlier that week. He explained that most policyholders will therefore receive a check equal to approximately 10 percent of the premium they paid during 2009. This is the fifth year in a row that ISBA Mutual has paid out a policyholder dividend. With this dividend, ISBA Mutual will have returned more than $8 million to its policyholders in dividend payments. DeMoss also noted that A. M. Best had recently affirmed the company's financial strength rating of "A" (Excellent) and stable outlook for the coming year. He reported that the company expects to end the year with approximately $26 million in policyholders' surplus and approximately $57 million in total assets. Unlike many insurance companies, ISBA Mutual has not experienced a decline in the value of its investment portfolio. Investments are important for the generation of income that contributes to the payment of dividends. ISBA Mutual is the sponsored professional liability insurance provider of the Illinois State Bar Association and the company continues to work closely with the ISBA. In addition to sponsoring many worthwhile ISBA activities, ISBA Mutual is a full partner in providing Fastcase free of charge to all ISBA Members. ISBA President John G. O'Brien and President-Elect Mark Hassakis were recently elected to the ISBA Mutual Board of Directors.
By Bethany Krajelis Law Bulletin staff writer SPRINGFIELD - After more than 50 years of helping the legal community, the Illinois Bar Foundation is looking ahead with a new vision. Originally formed to provide financial assistance to lawyers in need, the IBF expanded its scope over the years, but recently narrowed it in hopes of making more of an impact on the cash-strapped world of legal aid. This new focus was announced in the IBF's annual report, which provides an overview of the group's work in 2009 and an outline of a revamped strategic plan designed to lead the foundation through 2012. Susan M. Lewers, executive director for IBF, said the group's objectives are: to increase the availability of legal aid, encourage pro bono legal work, educate residents about the law and to continue providing financial assistance to lawyers in need. "We are excited about the new objectives and future of the foundation," Lewers said. "We hope lawyers see value in our new strategic plan and invest in the foundation so we can do this as a community." The increased focus on legal aid was the result of a feasibility study conducted in 2006 to determine the foundation's chances of reaching a multi-million fundraising goal. Lawyers across the state were asked how likely they would be to donate to such a major fundraising campaign, and feedback showed that lawyers wanted the foundation "to find our stake in the ground," Lewers said. Two years and several drafts later, the foundation's new objectives were created as a way to let donors know exactly what the IBF's goals were, said Russell K. Scott, a Belleville attorney who chairs the group's long-range planning committee. "It become a labor of love for the foundation," Scott said. "I see it as something we can really rally around." Scott said the group's goal to increase its focus on legal aid was an easy decision to make, especially as state budget cuts and a tough economy have hurt legal aid providers. Lewers said in order to meet their objective, the group plans on creating partnerships with various legal aid providers to come up with solutions to some of the problems the field has and continues to face.
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.
[gallery link="file" columns="2"] The Illinois Bar Foundation Fellows honored James F. Holderman, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois, and Nancy Katz, Associate Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, at the group's annual breakfast Friday at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. Judge Holderman received the Honorary Fellow Award from his wife, ISBA Board of Governors member Paula Holderman. Chief Judge Holderman has been a U.S. District Judge in Chicago since 1985, and has been the Chief Judge of the Northern District of Illinois since 2006. During his more than 20 years on the bench, he has presided over numerous cases in all areas of federal jurisdiction. Judge Katz received the Distinguished Service to Law & Society Award from her cousin, IBF past president David Sosin. Judge Katz was appointed to the bench in 1999 and is currently assigned to the Domestic Relations Division, where she presides over an individual calendar. She frequently speaks and trains lawyers, judges and law students in the areas of civil and family law.