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Q.  Can I contact former clients with whom I had an attorney-client relationship and tell them I left my firm?

A. Comment 4 to IRPC 7.3 does not prohibit an attorney from directly contacting former clients to inform them of the attorney’s departure or to solicit their employment.

Any individual planning to leave a firm should review the case of Dowd & Dowd, LTD. V. Gleason, 352 Ill. App. 3d 365 (1st Dist. 2004) which covers many aspects such as contacting prospective clients before one has actually left their firm and other fiduciary duties  For more information, see ISBA Advisory Opinion 12-14. 

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.]

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Slepicka v. Ill. Dept. of Public Health, Nationwide Financial v. Pobuda and Bruns v. City of Centralia and the criminal case People v. Perez.

CIVIL

Slepicka v. Illinois Department of Public Health

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

What is the remedy if administrative review is sought in the wrong circuit court? Here, the Court held that the remedy was for the action to be transferred to the correct district of the Appellate Court to review the merits.

The Illinois Department of Public Health issued an order from Springfield determining that Mary Slepicka was subject to involuntary discharge from her nursing home, which was located in Cook County.  Slepicka sought administrative review of that decision in the Sangamon County circuit court. The nursing home moved to dismiss or transfer for improper venue. The circuit court denied the motion and confirmed the Department’s decision.

The nursing home sought dismissal of Slepicka’s appeal. The Appellate Court, Fourth District, found that the circuit court had jurisdiction but that venue was improper. It vacated the circuit court judgment and remanded with directions that the action be transferred to Cook County circuit court to review the Department’s decision.

Chief Circuit Judge John T. Elsner is pleased to announce that following a tabulation of ballots by the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts in Springfield, the Circuit Judge of the 18th Judicial Court, DuPage County, have appointed Robert W. Rohm to the position of associate judge.

Mr. Rohm fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Judge Thomas C. Dudgeon.

Asked and Answered

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

Three weeks ago I was asked by the managing partner of a 16 attorney insurance defense firm about staffing and growth models for an insurance defense firm and I listed the following models and discussed the first model - grow your own associate staffing. Over the past two weeks in other posts I have discussed models 2-5.

Attorney staffing/growth models include:

 
The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on Sept. 12, 2014, during the September Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.

DISBARRED

  • Paul M. Daugerdas, Wilmette

Mr. Daugerdas, who was licensed in 1974, was disbarred on consent after he was found guilty of federal charges of tax evasion, mail fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstructing tax laws. He was sentenced to a 15-year term of imprisonment.

  • Norton Helton, Chicago

Mr. Helton, who was licensed in 1993, was disbarred on consent. He was convicted of bankruptcy and wire fraud in federal court and was sentenced to a prison term of 180 months and ordered to make $3,277,475 in restitution. He participated in a scheme to obtain money from homeowners facing foreclosure by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and material omissions.

  • Clarence Contee Jones, Jr., Tacoma, Wash.

Mr. Jones was licensed in Illinois in 1994 and in Washington in 1997. He was disbarred in Washington for sexually exploiting office staff over whom he had supervisory authority. He also entered guilty pleas to four misdemeanor counts of assault in the fourth degree with sexual motivation. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.

The Circuit Judges of the 18th Judicial Circuit Court, DuPage County, unanimously elected Judge Kathryn E. Creswell to the position of Chief Judge. Judge Creswell's term as Chief Judge will commence on Dec. 1, 2014. Judge Creswell will succeed Chief Judge John T. Elsner.

Judge Creswell is a graduate of DePaul University College of Law. She was appointed as an Associate Judge in 1995 and was elected a Circuit Judge in 2002. Prior to her selection as Chief Judge, she had served as Presiding Judge of the Felony Division of the 18th Judicial Circuit.

Michael J. Tardy, Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced today that the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit judges voted to select Glenn R. Schorsch as an associate judge of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit.

Mr. Schorsch received his undergraduate degree in 1981 from Bradley University in Peoria, IL, and his Juris Doctor in 1988 from John Marshall Law School in Chicago, IL. Mr. Schorsch is currently affiliated with the Stephenson County Public Defender's Office in Freeport, IL.

Michael J. Tardy, Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced today that the Sixth Judicial Circuit judges voted to select Jeffrey S. Geisler as an associate judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit.

Mr. Geisler received his undergraduate degree in 1982 from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and his Juris Doctor in 1986 from Memphis State in Memphis, Tennessee. Mr. Geisler is currently affiliated with Geisler Law Offices in Decatur.

Recent federal court decision reinterprets the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and may create venue defense for current or future debtor defendants in debt collection suits.

By: Joseph R. Marconi 1

In Suesz v. Med-1 Solutions, LLC, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 12562 (7th Cir. 2014), the Seventh Circuit recently reinterpreted the venue provision of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). The issue for the court was whether township small claims courts in Marion County, Indiana (Indianapolis) constituted separate “judicial districts or similar legal entities” for purposes of section 1692i of the FDCPA. The en banc majority held that debt collectors must file collection actions in the “smallest geographic area that is relevant for determining venue in the court system in which the case is filed.”

Implications for Cook County Lawyers
In doing so, the Seventh Circuit not only overruled its own 1996 precedent in Newsom v. Friedman, 76 F.3d 813 (7th Cir. 1996), but also applied the en banc Suesz decision retroactively. Debt collectors previously relied on Newsom to file collection actions in a court in the debtor’s county — but not in the township or intra-county small claims court in the area where the debtor resided or where the debtor contract was signed. Per Suesz, for those of us in Cook County, collection lawsuits should be filed in the Municipal District where the debtor resides or where the contract was signed. For lawsuits that are already pending, an immediate motion to transfer to the appropriate Municipal District is most prudent.

Q. Do I violate Rule 4.2 if I give another lawyer’s client a “second opinion” on a pending legal matter in which I am not involved?

A. Rule 4.2 provides that “[I]n representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter” without that lawyer’s consent.

However, Comment [4] to the Rule makes it clear that it does not “preclude communication with a represented person who is seeking advice from a lawyer who is not otherwise representing a client in the matter.”

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 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.]