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John E. Thies

The Illinois State Bar Association was recognized for its Lawyers Feeding Illinois program at the Assembly meeting on Dec. 14. ISBA President Paula H. Holderman received an commemorative plate from Jim Hires, board chair of Feeding Illinois and executive director of the Eastern Illinois Food Bank. ISBA Immediate Past President John Thies and his wife Terry were also on hand to receive the plate. Lawyers Feeding Illinois was an initiative during Mr. Thies’ presidency of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) in 2012-13 and Terry Thies served as the ISBA Chair of the statewide effort

During the campaign, the ISBA exceeded its goal of raising 1 million meals:  lawyer teams and more than 2,000 donors  raised more than 4.6 million meals. Attorney General Lisa Madigan supported the campaign, along with Illinois judges, who placed collection containers for non-perishable food items in courthouses in all parts of the state. Additional financial support for the project came from Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund and ISBA Mutual Insurance Company. Numerous local, ethnic and specialty bar associations also participated.

ISBA President John E. Thies says goodbye and looks back on his presidential year in his final Member Update.

ISBA President John Thies discusses civics education and other law-related issues with Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman.

View the extended footage from the interview at

Move is expected to lower fee costs for clients of limited means

Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride announced Friday that the Illinois Supreme Court has approved a proposal designed to lessen the legal costs in civil cases for clients of limited means.

The proposal deals with a concept known as "limited scope representation" which more than 20 other states also permit. Limited scope representation allows attorneys to provide paid legal services on a portion of a client's legal matter, rather than seeing it through from beginning to end. By providing services, specifically limited by agreement between the lawyer and the client, total legal fees should be more affordable for the client.

The proposal, first made several years ago by the Lawyers Trust Fund, is contained in amendments to three Supreme Court rules. It had the formal support of the Illinois State Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois Judges Association, who formed a joint task force to study the matter in detail.

ISBA President John E. Thies applauds the action of the Illinois General Assembly to increase court funding to $302.3 million, up from $281.1 million last year.

"With the leadership of the Illinois Supreme Court, and especially Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride, we have begun what we all hope will be a sustained commitment to reverse the reduction in court funding, thereby ensuring that courts continue to provide their constitutionally-mandated services to the people of Illinois," Thies said, continuing: "It remains an important priority of our Association to work with the Supreme Court, the Conference of Chief Judges, the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts and the rest of the organized bar to achieve this goal."

During his term as president, Thies advocated for an increase in court funding. He established a Special Committee on Fair and Impartial Courts, co-chaired by Kane County Judge Patricia P. Golden (Ret.), of West Dundee, and Illinois Appellate Court Justice James M. Wexstten, of Mt. Vernon. Their 64-page report, which addressed the serious funding crisis facing Illinois courts, was accepted on May 17 at a meeting of the ISBA Board of Governors.

"The committee's report stopped short of saying that the current court system could not do its job, but it recognized that the breaking point was near," Thies stated.

ISBA President John E. Thies interviews Sidley Austin Senior Counsel Newton Minow, who talks about the law student debt crisis and offers other reflections on his distinguished career in the law.

Click here to watch the entire, unedited interview.

An Illinois State Bar Association special committee has issued a 64-page report that addresses the serious funding crisis facing Illinois courts. 

“The long-term goal should be more than just alleviating the funding crisis,” said ISBA President John E. Thies, of Urbana. “Restoring courts to their proper place as a co-equal branch of government will return to the citizens of Illinois far more than the amount invested.”

In June 2012, Thies appointed a Special Committee on Fair and Impartial Courts, co-chaired by Illinois Circuit Judge Patricia P. Golden (Ret.), of West Dundee, and Illinois Appellate Court Justice James M. Wexstten, of Mt. Vernon. Their report and recommendations, which were accepted on May 17 at a meeting of the ISBA Board of Governors in Galena, will be voted on by the ISBA’s policy-making Assembly when it convenes on June 22.

According to the report, “The ability of the courts to deliver fair, timely and professional service has been degraded over the last dozen years by three trends: unpredictable budgets, cuts in real allocations, and disproportionate cuts. Funding cuts have affected all aspects of the judicial process.”

To identify the areas of special concern, the committee surveyed the chief judges of each judicial district in Illinois, as well as practicing lawyers. They then identified several problem areas and made recommendations that include the following:

ISBA President John E. Thies and Attorney General Lisa Madigan discuss the mortgage foreclosure crisis and what homeowners who are facing foreclosure should do.

ISBA President John E. Thies asks Illinois Bar Foundation President Hon. Debra Walker how IBF is addressing the issue of access to justice in Illinois. They also discuss the IBF Lawyers Care Fund - how lawyers help take care of their own.

Illinois State Bar Association President John E. Thies discusses juror questions with James F. Holderman, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.