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Q. My client is making unreasonable demands and I believe she cannot make rational decisions which will impact the outcome of the case. Am I allowed to withdraw from representation?

A. IRPC 1.16(b)(4) states that a lawyer may withdraw from representation if “the client insists upon taking action that the lawyer considers repugnant or with which the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement.”  However, when withdrawing, a lawyer should follow 1.16(c) and (d) and must follow applicable law requiring notice to or permission of a tribunal when terminating representation and take steps to protect the client’s interests, such as allowing time to find new counsel, refunding fees, and returning files.

For more information, consult ISBA Advisory Opinion 12-10

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

[DisclaimerThese 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.]

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers the proposed Service tax on attorneys, Juvenile Court Act (Senate Bill 3075) and Condominium Property Act (House Bill 4204).

More information on each bill is available below the video.








The Illinois State Bar Association's Task Force on the Impact of Law School Curriculum and Debt on the Future of the Profession will hold seven open hearings throughout the state. The Task Force was established by President Richard D. Felice and is chaired by Honorable Ann Jorgensen, Justice of the Second District Appellate Court. ISBA members are encouraged to attend these hearings to discuss the core skill sets that new lawyers should have and how law schools can graduate more “practice ready” lawyers.

The final hearing will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, December 10 at the ISBA Chicago Regional Office, 20 S. Clark, Ste. 900.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Keating v. City of Chicago, Madigan v. Illinois Commerce Commission, Pusateri v. Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company and Huber v. American Accounting Association and the criminal cases People v. Denson, People v. Holt, In re Detention of New and Cordrey v. Illinois Prison Review Board. The court also released In re Edmonds.



Keating v. City of Chicago

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

This opinion, while not reaching the merits of the case, reflects an important point of Illinois constitutional law.

The appellants sought review from a Supreme Court Rule 23 Order which affirmed dismissal of the plaintiffs’ complaint challenging the City of Chicago’s red light camera ordinance.  On review, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal:

In this case, two Justices of this Court have recused themselves and the remaining members of the Court are divided so that it is not possible to secure the constitutionally required concurrence of four judges for a decision (see Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 3).  Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.

The Court explained that the effect of this dismissal is the same as an affirmance by an equally divided court of the decision under review but it does not have precedential value.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the firm administrator with a 27 attorney firm in Detroit. We have 15 partners and 12 associates. I have been with the firm and in this position for eight months. I replaced another administrator who was terminated because the partners did not believe he lived up to their expectations. This is my first law firm and I want to be successful. I feel that I am struggling and am not sure of my priorities. I would appreciate your thoughts.

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on Thursday, November 13, 2014, during the November Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.


  • Robert Scott Forbes, Alston

Mr. Forbes, who was licensed in 1980, was disbarred on consent. He forged the signature of a deceased client on six workers compensation benefits checks totaling $9,324.66 that the State had mistakenly sent to him for his client. He misappropriated the proceeds. Mr. Forbes was aware that his client had died when he obtained the checks. When the Attorney General’s office sought to recover the funds, Mr. Forbes falsely claimed that the client’s sister, who served as the executor of the client’s estate, had forged the signatures and received the proceeds. Mr. Forbes also repeated his false story to the Illinois Appellate Court and made material misrepresentations to the ARDC to impede the disciplinary investigation.

  • Michael Samuel Froman, Skokie

Mr. Froman, who was licensed in 1976, was disbarred on consent. He misappropriated approximately $90,000 in settlement funds belonging to three clients.

The fax machine is almost as quaint a relic as the typewriter, and Grandma loves her iPad. Isn’t it time for an Illinois statute that expressly provides for electronic wills? That’s the question Darrell Dies posed recently in the ISBA Trusts & Estates Section newsletter.

He notes that since 2002 the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN) has “ensured the validity and legal effect of contracts entered into electronically.” In 2012, the Illinois Supreme Court promulgated statewide e-filing standards and encouraged circuit court clerks to implement them. Yet the probate process remains squarely in the world of “paper, lots of paper,” he writes.

Of course, just because no statute expressly authorizes digital wills doesn’t mean a court would refuse to recognize one. In fact, last year an Ohio judge recognized a will signed on a tablet with a stylus. But a statute is a far more efficient and comprehensive way to move the probate process into the digital age.

Thus far, only one state has an electronic will statute – Nevada, which, as Dies informs us, has no income or estate tax. And the statute also illustrates the many e-will obstacles that remain, including concerns about authentication, confidentiality, tampering, and fraud. Read his article for more, including a look at the Nevada statute.

Q. How much supervision must I give to our paralegals and secretaries?

A. Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 5.3 requires a lawyer with supervisory authority to make reasonable efforts to ensure the nonlaywer’s conduct is compatible with the professional regulations of the lawyer.  A nonlawyer may include any secretary, investigator, intern, or paralegal. Comment [2] to Rule 5.3 states supervising lawyers should be responsible for the nonlawyer’s work product and maintain supervision over the legal aspects of their employment.

Michael J. Tardy, Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced today that the Eighth Judicial Circuit judges voted to select Debra L. Wellborn as an associate judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit.

Ms. Wellborn received her undergraduate degree in 1984 from the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO, and her Juris Doctor in 1986 from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Ms. Wellborn is currently affiliated with the State of Illinois Attorney General's Office in Quincy, IL.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the managing partner of a 12-attorney firm in Springfield. We have never had a financial plan or budget but I have been thinking of creating one for next year. I would appreciate your thoughts as to whether the time invested in putting one together is worth the effort.