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Practice News

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am a newly appointed managing partner for an 18-attorney firm in Dayton, Ohio. We are an employment law litigation firm that represents plaintiffs on a contingency fee basis. We have been in business for five years and are facing severe cash flow and profitability challenges primarily due to lackluster contingency fee outcomes. Do you have any guidelines or suggestions as to what we should aim for?

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission is warning of a phishing threat aimed at Illinois lawyers.

“A phishing attack targeting lawyers has been reported recently by state disciplinary authorities in District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Missouri and California,” the ARDC reports. “Emails received by lawyers in those states purport to notify the lawyer of a disciplinary complaint, usually with the subject line ‘Bar Complaint’ or something similar, in an attempt to lure the lawyer into responding by clicking on links to files that open malicious software.

The ARDC has also received several reports of this happening to Illinois lawyers. If you receive one of these fraudulent emails, please do not respond or click on any attachments. Delete it immediately. The ARDC DOES NOT notify lawyers of the initiation of disciplinary investigations via email except when there is difficulty in contacting the lawyer via U.S. mail.”

If you have questions about an email that purports to be from the ARDC, contact the Commission.

The U.S. Attorneys' Office, Central Illinois District, seeks a Criminal Assistant United States Attorney. Criminal AUSAs prosecute federal criminal cases in the District. They advise federal law enforcement agents on criminal investigations, present criminal cases to the grand jury, try criminal cases before the United States District Court, and may represent the United States in criminal appeals before the Circuit Court of Appeals. Candidates should be capable of handling a variety of significant and complex criminal prosecutions. 

Applicants must possess a J.D. degree, be an active member of the bar (any U.S. jurisdiction), and have at least 1 year post-J.D. legal or other relevant experience. The Central District of Illinois is headquartered in Springfield with staffed offices in Peoria, Rock Island, and Urbana. This position is located in Urbana. The application deadline is March 17. Find out more.

Asked and Answered

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

Q. We have a two-partner firm in Columbus, Ohio. We have two staff members, and there are no other attorneys in the firm. We have been in practice together for 17 years. I am 62 and my partner is in his fifties. My practice is limited to intellectual property and my partner’s practice is limited to medical malpractice defense. Recently, as a result of lack of coverage, our unwillingness to hire associate attorneys, and our frustrations with dealing with management issues, we have decided that we would like to merge with a larger firm. However, we are concerned that our numbers may not be satisfactory. Our five-year averages are as follows:

  • Gross Revenue – $500,000
  • Expenses – $240,000
  • Net Income – $260,000

Since we split the pot evenly we each made $130,000 on average. With these numbers are we a suitable candidate or are we just whistling in the wind? We would appreciate your thoughts.

On January 25, 2017, Illinois State Representatives Will Guzzardi, Steven Andersson, and Tom Demmer introduced HB 689. The bill, which has bipartisan support and 14 other co-sponsors, would amend various asset-forfeiture statutes to increase fairness to property owners, increase transparency in the forfeiture process, and remove financial incentives that encourage police and prosecutors to seize citizens' property.

Civil forfeiture is heavily used under current Illinois law. Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, civil forfeiture does not require a criminal conviction before an individual's property can be taken by the government. In some situations, property owners may not be aware that a forfeiture proceeding is taking place because the case is brought in rem. HB 689 would change that.

The bill's changes are in line with recommendations by two strange ideological bedfellows, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Illinois Policy Institute. The two organizations recently produced an article examining asset forfeiture in Illinois and proposing reforms for the existing system (read it at http://www.aclu-il.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/civil-asset-forfeiture.pdf).

Find out more about the bill in the March Illinois Bar Journal.

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers the Mechanics Lien Act, the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, defining "high school" for child support purposes, the Health Care Services Lien Act, name changes and IMDMA judgments, the Residential Real Property Disclosure Act, and the Presumptively Void Transfers Article of the Probate Act of 1975.

More information on each bill is available below the video.

Beginning with its March 2017 term, the Illinois Supreme Court is posting briefs for each case in the term’s Call of the Docket on the court’s website.

The briefs for the March term are available under Docket in the Quick Links tab. Briefs for upcoming terms will typically be available one to two weeks before each term starts.

“Briefs and oral arguments are the primary tools used by courts of review in deciding cases," Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier said in a court press release. "Our court has made videos of all oral arguments available online for several years now. We are very pleased that briefs will now be available online as well."

The change was made possible when the Illinois Supreme Court adopted Rule 364 to protect against identity theft and the disclosure of personal information in cases before the state's reviewing courts. The rule took effect July 1, 2016, and affects all documents and exhibits filed by paper or electronically in criminal and civil cases before the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Courts.

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.