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Practice News

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the owner of a plaintiff personal injury law firm in Arlington, Texas. I have three associate attorneys, six non-lawyer case managers, and three other staff members. Our marketing consists of our yellow pages program and our website. I am considering TV advertising and I would appreciate your thoughts concerning venturing into this arena.

Beginning next year, lawyers who don't carry malpractice insurance will have to complete a four-hour assessment of their ethical knowledge and management practices.

Each year, the ARDC requires Illinois attorneys to report whether they or their firms carry malpractice insurance. That information is made public via the ARDC's website, although a prospective client may not know the website exists, let alone that it provides such information. On January 25, 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court amended Rule 756(e) by implementing "proactive management based regulation" (PMBR). The new rule will require attorneys who do not carry malpractice insurance to complete a four-hour interactive, online assessment of the operations of their firm. The assessment is based on both ethical rules and best business practices. It will be conducted every two years, beginning in 2018. (For more about PMBR, see the June 2016 Illinois Bar Journal cover story.)

According to James Grogan, the ARDC's Deputy Administrator and Chief Counsel, 41 percent of solo practitioners in Illinois do not carry malpractice insurance. There are roughly 13,500 solo attorneys in the state, which means some 5,500 practice uninsured. What's more, nine percent of small firms do not maintain malpractice insurance policies.

Glenview lawyer Rachel Huan Kao discusses four factors to consider before practicing immigration law.

For about a dozen years after Kerry Lavelle founded his namesake law firm a quarter-century ago, he was based in the loop and took what cases he could find, enjoying steady success that enabled him to grow the firm to five lawyers, which he took pride in at the time.

About 13 years ago, he moved the firm to northwest suburban Palatine and undertook a change in direction aside from geography. "I took a very different approach: I built a business plan, and with the right discipline, we really grew the firm, and we now have 24 attorneys," says Lavelle, who will speak in Moline March 31 at the ISBA Solo and Small Firm Practice Institute on "Build It and the Profit Will Come: Simple Steps to Building Your Business Plan."

Lavelle didn't just throw himself into this exercise blindly. "I read a lot of business books, and I realized there's more to a business plan than just the pro forma financials," he says. "A business plan is a model to really touch on all the necessary elements of the business going forward. And if you stick to those goals and those truisms, you will be successful."

A business plan can help lawyers flesh out their ideas, and in some ways the journey is more enlightening than the destination, says Debbie Foster, partner at Affinity Consulting Group, who helps law firm clients put business plans together.

Asked and Answered

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

Q.  We have a 16-attorney business law firm in Cleveland, Ohio – six equity partners and 10 associates. The equity partners have been discussing putting in place an associate attorney career advancement program and outlining equity partner admission requirements. Can you share your thoughts on what we should be considering and how we should get started?

David Kupiec of Kupiec & Martin LLC discusses Illinois state and local tax issues.

Leading appellate attorneys review the Illinois Supreme Court opinions handed down Friday, February 17. The cases are Stone Street Partners, LLC v. City of Chicago Dept. of Administrative HearingsWardwell v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.Grimm v. Calica, and, from the criminal docket, People v. Fort, People v. Ayres, and People v. Shinaul.

CIVIL

Stone Street Partners, LLC v. City of Chicago Dept. of Administrative Hearings

By Michael T. Reagan, Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan

In Stone Street Partners, LLC v. City of Chicago Dept. of Administrative Hearings, a limited scope Armageddon was expected to occur concerning a claim of unauthorized practice of law, but by a vote of 4 to 3 that battle was called off.  Stone Street Partners, LLC brought this action in the circuit court to obtain administrative review and other relief after discovering that a judgment had been recorded against one of its properties for failure to pay $1,050 in fines and costs imposed by Chicago’s department of administrative hearings for alleged violations of the city’s building code, such as installation of carbon monoxide detectors, removal of garbage and debris, and the installation of lighting and exit signage.

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers a bill about judicial complaints, the Probate Act, the Insurance Code and arbitration, changing names under the IMDMA, guardians, the Jury Act, and criminal law and defense.

More information on each bill is available below the video.

Asked and Answered

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

Q.  We have a 12-attorney business litigation firm in Sacramento, California. I am one of three members on our technology committee. Our IT infrastructure consists of an in-house Microsoft file server, a separate Microsoft Exchange e-mail server, and document management and time, billing, and accounting software. Our documents are stored locally and managed by the locally installed document management software. Several of our partners have talked with other firms that are operating totally in the cloud. We would appreciate whether moving to the cloud is something that we should consider?

Springfield lawyer Barry Hines discusses the law governing boundary disputes in Illinois.