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Practice News

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Marks v. Vanderventer, McVey v. M.L.K. Enterprises, LLC, Turcios v. The DeBruler Company and Warren County Soil and Water Conservation Dist. v. Walters and the criminal cases People v. Allen, People v. Gaytan and People v. Kuehner.

CIVIL

Marks v. Vanderventer

By Karen Kies DeGrand, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth, LLC

Here the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the trial court’s rulings that held unconstitutional a $10 surcharge collected by a county recorder of deeds as set forth in the original and amended versions of state legislation primarily aimed at funding the Rental Housing Support Program, which the General Assembly created to help local governments address the shortage in the state of affordable, decent rental housing. The circuit court certified a class of plaintiffs required to pay the fee for recording real estate-related documents and a class of defendants consisting of the county recorders of deeds throughout the state.

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers Service tax white paper, Property fraud alert system (House Bill 3672), The Parentage Act (House Bill 1531), Lifetime revocation issue (House Bill 1446) and Court security fee (Senate Bill 804). More information on each bill is available below the video.

Service tax white paper. The Taxpayers Federation of Illinois and the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability issued an issue brief on a service tax for Illinois at a press conference in Springfield yesterday. It recommends that the majority of professional services should be excluded from the Illinois sales tax base. Attorneys were not included in this proposed tax base. From the brief:

Associate circuit judges in Illinois outside Cook County have been evaluated in a poll of lawyers conducted by the Illinois State Bar Association. Results are available at www.isba.org/sites/default/files/judicialevaluations/2015%20Associate%20Reappointment.pdf

Associate judges are subject to reappointment every four years. The reappointment is accomplished through the casting of secret ballots by circuit court judges in their circuit. Successful candidates receive votes that tally three-fifths (60%) or greater in favor of their reappointment. Voting will be concluded prior to the beginning of the new associate judge terms. The new term of office for each reappointed associate judge will begin on July 1, 2015 and terminate on June 30, 2019.

Although the decision on associate judge reappointment is made by circuit judges, the ISBA is releasing these poll results to the public, because all judges are public officials and the opinions of their professional colleagues about their performance is of public interest.

ISBA attorneys in each judicial circuit (except Cook County) are mailed a ballot containing the names of every associate judge seeking reappointment in their circuit. Licensed attorneys who are not members of ISBA may request a ballot. Attorneys are asked to respond only if they have sufficient knowledge about the associate judge’s qualifications for judicial office to give a fair, informed opinion. Opinions expressed in the poll are of those attorneys who chose to respond and do not reflect the opinion of the ISBA or the opinion of all attorneys.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the managing partner in a 12-attorney firm in Chicago. We have six partners and six associates. We are a boutique litigation firm. Three of our partners are in their mid to late 60s and should be thinking about retirement, but they seem to be in denial. How do we begin to address this issue?

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on May 14, 2015, during the May Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.

DISBARRED

  • Karim G. Dure, Evanston

Mr. Dure, who was licensed in 1999, was disbarred on consent. He pled guilty to a federal criminal indictment charging him with wire fraud. Mr. Dure participated in a scheme to fraudulently obtain mortgage loan funds from a lender for use in a client’s purchase of two Chicago properties. Mr. Dure assisted the client in making misrepresentations to the lender regarding the client’s assets.

  • Deeba Khursheed Mallick, Arlington, Va.

Ms. Mallick, who was licensed in 2006, was disbarred on consent. She pled guilty to a federal charge of misprison of felony. In her plea agreement, she admitted that, while holding various roles at Gallant Pharma International, Inc., including office manager, she identified prospective customers for misbranded, non-FDA approved drugs and arranged for the importation and distribution of those drugs. The imported drugs included injectable chemotherapeutic agents, injectable cosmetic fillers, and injectable agents used to treat side effects of chemotherapy, many of which were subject to federally-mandated strict temperature controls which were not complied with by Gallant. She was sentenced to a nine-month prison term. She was suspended on an interim basis on February 27, 2015.

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers IMDMA Rewrite (Senate Bill 57), The Parentage Act (House Bill 1531), Mortgage Foreclosure (Senate Bill 735), Decriminalization of cannabis (House Bill 218), Mechanics Lien Act (House Bill 2635), Disabled adults (Senate Bill 90), Guilty pleas (House Bill 2569), New criminal law procedures (House Bill 1121), Health Care Power of Attorney (Senate Bill 159) and Lifetime revocation issue (House Bill 1446). More information on each bill is available below the video.

When it comes to sharing digital files -- whether documents, music, or almost anything else -- the ubiquitous Dropbox is sure to come to mind. But lawyers have to meet a high security standard, and "[a]lthough Dropbox encrypts the files on its server, Dropbox has had at least one security incident in the past, and Dropbox maintains a master key to the files," writes Chicago lawyer and tech expert Todd Flaming in the latest ISBA Standing Committee on Legal Technology newsletter.

What if you want more security for the files you're sharing on Dropbox? "[C]onsider using an add-on product called Boxcryptor," Flaming writes. "It creates a virtual drive on your computer that allows you to encrypt your files locally before uploading them to the cloud."

How? "Boxcryptor uses your own personal encryption key to encrypt every file before the file is saved into Dropbox and decrypt the file before you open it," Flaming writes "Thus, when the file is uploaded to Dropbox, it is already encrypted, and no one has the key."

Find out more in Flaming's article, where he also discusses the pros and cons of Boxcryptor and gives a remarkably short but clear explanation of cloud computing and how it works.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the sole owner of a debtor bankruptcy practice. I have one other attorney and three staff members. Last year we spent $50,000 of advertising. Our fees collected were $550,000 and Net Income was around $160,000. Are we spending too much?

A. You are spending 9% of fee revenue. I believe that in a consumer practice such as personal injury and debtor bankruptcy you have to spend around 10% of fee revenue to get the business you need to sustain the practice. I have some practices spending 19% of revenue.

So, I don't think you are necessarily spending too much if the advertising is working for you. You have to constantly measure the ROI on your advertising and fine tune it when needed.

Also, insure that the business is actually coming from the advertising - in other words don't advertise to get business you would have had anyway or in a market that you have saturated and more advertising will not yield any additional business.

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Q. Do I have a duty to notify the opposing party when I receive documents that were inadvertently sent to me in discovery?

A. IRPC 4.4(b) states that a “lawyer who receives a document relating to the representation of the lawyer’s client and knows that the document was inadvertently sent shall promptly notify the sender.”  Comment [2] to that rule says any additional steps, such as returning the original document, are beyond the scope of these Rules. 

ISBA members can browse past ISBA Ethics Opinions, access our Ethics Hotline, and other resources on the ISBA Ethics Page.

[Disclaimer. These questions are representative of calls received on the ISBA’s ethics hotline. The information provided below is meant as an educational tool to highlight potentially applicable Illinois RPC or other ethics resources that might help the lawyer answer the question posed. The information provided isn’t legal advice. Because every situation is different, often complex, and the law is constantly evolving, you shouldn’t rely upon this general information without conducting your own research.]

The Illinois Supreme Court overturned the 2013 pension law on Friday, ruling it unconstitutional. Justice Karmeierdelivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Chief Justice Garman and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Kilbride, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion, which can be found at http://illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/SupremeCourt/2015/118585.pdf