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Practice News

Passing score raised to 266 for July 2015 exam

On March 16, 2015, representatives of the Deans ofthe Illinois Law Schools ("Deans") and Board of Admissions to the Bar ("Board") met with the Illinois Supreme Court Justices ("Court") to discuss the raising of the minimum passing score on the Illinois bar examination. The Deans and the Board expressed their respective concerns regarding the process, rationale, and timing involved in raising the passing score. After considering these concerns, the Court approved a revision to both the number of points and the schedule previously adopted for raising this score.

Effective for the July 2015 bar examination, the minimum passing score is set at 266 (out of a possible 400) - a 2-point increase from the February 2015 bar examination. This passing score will remain in effect through the February 2017 bar examination. Effective for the July
2017 bar examination, the passing score is provisionally set at 268. Prior to that examination, the Deans and Board will review the results of the examinations with the 266 passing score and will make their recommendations to the Court.

In addition, the Court will appoint a dean of an Illinois law school to serve as an ex officio member of the Board to establish a formal tie between the Deans and the Board.

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers Presumptions in probate (Senate Bill 90), Guardianships for minors (Senate Bill 786), Temporary guardianships (House Bill 2505), Unfounded reports (Senate Bill 1335), Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (House Bill 4131) and Presumptively Void Transfers (House Bill 3325). More information on each bill is available below the video.

One plank of Governor Rauner's campaign platform was criminal justice reform. On February 11, he issued Executive Order 15-14, which establishes the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.

The order notes that Illinois' prison system is at 150 percent capacity; the prison population has increased 700 percent over the last 40 years, while the crime rate has decreased 20 percent over the same period. It also observes that overcrowding in our prisons threatens the safety of staff and inmates, thwarting efforts to rehabilitate prisoners for their return to society.

In an effort to address these problems, the newly formed Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform has been tasked with researching and suggesting bipartisan, data-driven reforms to decrease crime and recidivism while maintaining public safety. The Commission's goal is to increase public safety and reduce Illinois's prison population by 25 percent over the next 10 years. Its first report is due July 1 and its final report is due December 31 of this year. Find out more in the April Illinois Bar Journal.

The Fourth District Appellate Court will hear oral arguments in two criminal cases on Monday, March 30, 2015 at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Arguments are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the Public Affairs Center, first floor.

"The University of Illinois students and those interested in the law have a unique opportunity to observe oral arguments before the Appellate Court in person", said Chief Justice Rita B. Garman of the Supreme Court of Illinois. "I am extremely pleased UIS is hosting the Fourth District Appellate Court's oral arguments on their campus this spring."

Jennifer Rosato Perea
Jennifer Rosato Perea
DePaul University has selected a nationally recognized leader in legal education as dean for the College of Law. Jennifer Rosato Perea, an accomplished scholar in family law, bioethics and civil procedure, will join DePaul July 1.

Throughout her 25 years in higher education, which includes 11 years as a law school administrator, Rosato Perea has been an active voice in the national dialogue about legal education. She currently serves as the dean of the Northern Illinois University College of Law, a post she has held since 2009, and served as the acting dean of the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law during its first year of operation in 2006.

Q. I am not sure what is the best defense to assert while defending my client. May I file numerous defenses in the hopes that one of them will work?

A. IRPC 3.1 forbids the filling of frivolous claims. Comment [2] to Rule 3.1 states that “the filing of an action or defense or similar action taken for a client is not frivolous merely because the facts have not first been fully substantiated or because the lawyer expects to develop vital evidence only by discovery. What is required of lawyers, however, is that they inform themselves about the facts of their clients’ cases and the applicable law and determine that they can make good-faith arguments in support of their clients’ positions. Such action is not frivolous even though the lawyer believes that the clients’ position ultimately will not prevail. The action is frivolous, however, if the lawyer is unable to either make a good-faith argument on the merits of the action taken or to support the action taken by a good-faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.” 

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

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

Q. I am the managing partner in an eight attorney firm in Phoenix. We are contemplating bringing in a senior lawyer as an Of Counsel that wants to gradually wind down his practice. We are thinking of paying him using an eat-what-he-kills approach whereby he would be paid 40% for his personal production (collected working attorney receipts) and 20% for bringing in the client (origination). Thus, if he brought in the client and did all of the work he would get 60% of the fee. What are your thoughts?

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Brunton v. Kruger, Cowper v. Nyberg, Skaperdas v. Country Casualty Ins. Co. and Harris v. One Hope United, Inc and provide short summaries for In People ex rel. Madigan v. J. T. Einoder, Inc., McCormick v. Robertson and In re Parentage of Scarlett Z.-D.


Brunton v. Kruger

By Alyssa M. Reiter, Williams, Montgomery & John Ltd.

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers Court reporters, Attorney fees in civil actions (House Bill 2456), Product liability and confidentiality orders (House Bill 3518), Property fraud alert system (House Bill 3672), Guilty pleas (House Bill 2569) and The Notice and Opportunity to Repair Act (House Bill 3744). More information on each bill is available below the video.

Q. If I’m forced to sue my client for a fee, can I disclose in pleadings or in open court the services I rendered to the client or is that breaching a confidence?

A. Rule 1.6 provides broadly that a lawyer shall not reveal “information relating to the representation of a client.”   However, subpart (b)(5) of the Rule allows a lawyer to reveal such information “to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client.”  Comment [11] to the Rule notes “a lawyer entitled to a fee is permitted by (b)(5) to prove the services rendered in an action to collect it.” 

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