Two Great ISBA Member Benefits Sponsored by
A Value of $1,344, Included with Membership

Practice News

The July 2017 bar exam is fast approaching, and this season’s test-takers are no doubt feeling the anxiety and stress that comes with it. We asked our members and followers on Twitter to share with us their best tips for tackling the final days leading up to the bar exam. Below is some of our favorite advice:

Corporate America has taken steps to create a more diverse workforce at all levels. Companies like Microsoft have executives who focus on developing and fostering a diverse environment. Women and people of color are increasingly seen in managerial and executive-level roles.

And yet the legal profession has lagged behind. Professor William Henderson of Indiana University's Maurer School of Law has looked at how to improve diversity in the profession and the benefits of doing so.

Henderson published the results of his research in a 2016 paper entitled "Solving the Legal Profession's Diversity Problem" (http://bit.ly/2rVJpm6). Henderson, who recently spoke at the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism's The Future Is Now: Legal Services 2.017 conference in Chicago, suggests that the profession's lack of diversity is a system failure rather than a lack of moral resolve.

Henderson's research indicates that law firms have put a disproportionate emphasis on academic credentials. He cites research and his own experience with internal law firm studies for the proposition that "attendance at an elite law school is seldom a marker of future success and often a slight negative predictor."

A better indicator for success than which law school attorneys attend is whether they had access to mentoring and feedback at the beginning of their career, he says. Find out more in the July Illinois Bar Journal.


Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am the owner of a six-attorney elder law firm in Dallas. I manage the firm and practice law. I am finding it more and more difficult to do both. I would like to shift my time totally to managing the practice. I would appreciate your thoughts.       

A. You are not alone. This is a common problem in law and other professional service firms. I have similar problems in my own firm — it is very difficult to serve two masters — serving your clients and managing your firm. Eventually you have to pick one — client service (doing legal work) or managing and running your business — as the area that receives your primary focus. This is not to say that you should not do both — but you select the primary area that you are going to focus on and get help with the other area.

A question that I typically ask my new law firm clients is, “What do you want to be: A business person or a lawyer?” The answer to the question often provides a hint to how you should structure your firm. If you want to be more of a business person, hire legal talent to help with serving clients and performing legal work and spend more time working on your firm rather than in it. If you want to be a lawyer and do legal work and serve clients, hire a legal administrator or business manager (this is more than an office manager) to manage and run your firm.

IllinoisLawyerFinder, our free public-facing member directory, is an opportunity to connect with and attract potential clients. To make the most of your online presence, you can use your profile to tell your story and let the public know who you are and why you should handle their legal matters. After you have customized your bio, updated your work history, and uploaded a professional headshot, you can further enhance your profile by posting an article. Get started by watching this quick how-to video. 

 

Hon. Craig H. DeArmond, Chief Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, has been assigned as an Appellate Court Justice in the Fourth Judicial District. The assignment  takes effect on September 1, 2017, and will continue until further order of the Court.

"I am pleased to announce the assignment of Judge Craig DeArmond to the Fourth District Appellate Court. Judge DeArmond has many years of experience that have amply prepared him for the work of the appellate court," Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita B. Garman said. "His background includes eight years as Vermilion County State’s Attorney and several years in private practice representing criminal defendants and clients in civil matters. He was elected in 2015 to serve as Chief Judge in the Fifth Judicial Circuit. Judge DeArmond has served on the Supreme Court Committee on Education for several years and is a frequent presenter at judicial education programs. He will make a fine addition to the appellate court."

Democrats and Republicans. Cubs fans and Cards (or White Sox) fans. Oxford comma devotees and detractors. Is that how it is in your workplace?

Well, score one for the Oxford comma contingent. As Rex Gradeless put it in the May issue of The Public Servant, newsletter of the ISBA Government Lawyers Committee, a "recent federal appellate court decision may put the cost of a single missing comma at $10 million." Gradeless reminds us that the Oxford comma is "placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually 'and' or 'or') in a series of three or more terms. For example, a list of three Illinois counties might be punctuated either as 'Hardin, Pope, and Calhoun' (with the Oxford comma), or as 'Hardin, Pope and Calhoun' (without the Oxford comma)."

In the case in question, Maine truck farmers argued that they were included in a statute requiring overtime payments, while the Oakhurst Dairy argued they were excluded. The overtime statute excluded employees involved in "[t]he canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of [food products]."


Asked and Answered 

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

Q. Our law firm is a 16-attorney intellectual property firm in Tampa, Florida. We have 10 partners and six associates. I am a member of our three-member executive committee and I have been given charge of looking into the pros and cons of having a firm retreat with all of our partners and associates. We have not had a retreat before and we would like your thoughts concerning the benefits that a small firm can receive from a retreat.

Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides free legal services to senior and low-income individuals in central and souther Illinois, seeks two staff attorneys at its Northern Regional office.

Senior staff attorney responsibilities will include representation of senior citizens in civil cases and transactional matters involving critical legal needs in 12-county service area. Position includes travel to senior centers on a regular basis and participation in community legal education and outreach.

Staff attorney responsibilities will include representation of low-income in routine and complex family law litigation, particularly for victims of domestic violence and representation of low-income clients in other litigation involving critical legal needs.

To qualify, applicants must be admitted to the Illinois Bar and demonstrate commitment to the representation of low-income individuals. Prior legal services or clinical work experience strongly preferred. 

Salary is approximately $45,000 with license, depending on experience, and includes excellent benefits, including medical, dental, and vision.

Interested applicants should send a resume, cover letter, and writing sample to:

Lauren J. Pashayan
Managing Attorney
Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc.
3085 Stevenson Drive St. 202
Springfield, IL 62703
(217) 529-8400
lpashayan@lollaf.org


Asked and Answered 

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

Q. Our firm, a 14-attorney litigation firm in Sacramento, California, is planning on merging/acquiring a three-attorney firm in the area. We have completed our due diligence and both firms have agreed on the terms of the merger. What type of agreement and legal documents do we need to effect and implement the merger?

In his bestselling book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, physician and New Yorker writer Atul Gawande argues that checklists are essential to reducing errors and increasing efficiency. He points to the airline industry's reliance on flight-related checklists - and its remarkable safety record - as evidence of the power of checklists to make processes work, and argues that the medical profession should expand the use of checklists to save lives and improve outcomes.

"The natural extension to the legal field is that lawyers must use checklists as much as possible," writes Kerry Lavelle in the June issue of The Bottom Line, newsletter of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics. "For example, why not have a definitive checklist for a residential real estate closing? A commercial real estate closing? An asset purchase agreement? Stock purchase agreement? Commercial lease review?"

Nor is the value of checklists limited to transactional processes, Lavelle writes. "Imagine having a compelling and detailed checklist, or litigation handbook, specific to your firm's [litigation] 'process' encompassing the local rules where every new attorney and attorney thereafter would need to understand in the process for litigation," he writes. Find out more in the July Illinois Bar Journal.