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Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am managing director of a 45 attorney firm in Pittsburg. Due to changes in our client industries, shrinking demand and competition from both regional and national law firms, we are starting to work on our first strategic plan. I have been hearing a lot about competitive intelligence. Should this be part of our planning process?

A. Competitive intelligence is a popular term being used to describe information gathering (secondary research) on your clients, client industries, prospective or target clients, competitors, geographic markets, emerging practice areas, etc. Its goals are to provide actionable intelligence that provides a competitive edge. It reduces risk and identifies opportunities.

All strategic plans should contain a secondary research (competitive intelligence) component. Research objectives might focus on one or all of the following:

1. Identify prospects
2. Spot litigation activity for current and prospective clients
3. Identify emerging litigation issues and trends
4. Improve the quality of your client proposals
5. Identify lateral candidates
6. Identify potential acquisition and merger partners
7. Identify emerging client and industry needs
8. Identify emerging new practice areas
9. Explore expansion into new geographic locations

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The Illinois State Bar Association’s Lawyer Finder Service provides referrals to local lawyers Mondays through Fridays. The Service makes referrals in a number of areas of law.  For the month of March 2012, ISBA helped people in need of legal services find lawyers in the following areas:

  • Administrative Law - 13
  • Animal Law - 2
  • Bankruptcy - 13
  • Business Law - 7      
  • Civil Disputes - 63
  • Civil Rights - 25
  • Collection - 27
  • Consumer Protection - 8
  • Contracts - 12
  • Criminal Law - 75
  • Education Law - 15
  • Elder law - 7
  • Employment Law - 64
  • Estate/Probate Law - 34
  • Family - 149   
  • Government Benefits - 15
  • Health Law - 8
  • Immigration - 4
  • Insurance Disputes - 8
  • Intellectual Property - 3
  • Miscellaneous - 5        
  • Municipal Law - 7                  
  • Personal Injury - 90                
  • Real Estate - 60
  • Social Security - 18                             
  • Tax - 3
  • Workers Compensation - 10

These numbers do not include additional referrals made through the online Lawyer Finder service.

ISBA member Sam Amirante will be signing copies of his book, "John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster" on May 10 from 5:30-7 p.m. at Beef and Brandy, 127 S. State in Chicago. This event is sponsored by Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity.

Sam, ex Public Defender, retired judge, husband, father, and leader of his own private law firm practice, shares “the story behind the story” at this gathering. Mark your calendars and come after work to join the world’s largest legal fraternity as Sam shares stories with fellow barristers and personalizes an inscription for your very own copy of his book.

Many of us have known Sam for years and have enjoyed his wit, perceptions, and conviviality as practicing lawyers. Now his book has achieved national acclaim and great reviews. The book chronicles the efforts by Sam to defend the same rights of every American accused of a crime. He answers the question of "How could you defend that monster?" with candor and honesty, shedding a different insightful light on a lawyer's most difficult duty. Here’s your chance to meet and enjoy the man behind the story and claim your copy of this book.

This event is free and no RSVP is required. Questions? Contact Charlie McCarthy at or (630) 571-4126

ISBA President John G. Locallo (left) views tornado damage with Shawneetown lawyer James Smith, who lives near Harrisburg. The grain bin came from a nearby farm and was embedded in a grove of trees.
ISBA President John G. Locallo (left) views tornado damage with Shawneetown lawyer James Smith, who lives near Harrisburg. The grain bin came from a nearby farm and was embedded in a grove of trees.
Illinois State Bar Association President John G. Locallo lectured a law school class, discussed cameras in the courts with the news media, and toured tornado damage on a visit this week to southern Illinois.

Locallo met with Saline County lawyers for lunch in Harrisburg on Wednesday. Harrisburg was hard hit by the “Leap Day tornado” on Feb. 29, that took seven lives and destroyed a significant section of the city. He also took a tour of area storm damage.

On Thursday, President Locallo took time to lecture SIU School of Law Dean Cynthia Fountaine’s class on starting and keeping a law practice. He also met other students during a reception hosted by the law school.

Click here to watch a television report on President Locallo’s comments on cameras in the courts.

Wilson v. County of Cook

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

The circuit and appellate courts had rejected plaintiffs' constitutional challenges to the Cook County ordinance banning assault weapons. While the plaintiffs' petition for leave to appeal was pending in the Illinois Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of the United States filed its decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago, 130 S.Ct. 3020 (2010). The Illinois Supreme Court entered a supervisory order directing the appellate court to vacate its prior judgment and to reconsider the appeal in light of McDonald.

Theme Park’s Are Open For Business
There’s good news for roller coaster enthusiasts this month – All Six Flags parks are now open! And the better news – is offering savings up to 40% on Six Flags Theme Parks nationwide! Experience the 17 world-class roller coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California with 40% savings. Or visit the park that has won Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Award for “Best Theme Park Shows in the Country” for eight consecutive years at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio with savings up to 30%. There’s plenty more Six Flags to experience so make sure you check them all out at And speaking of theme park deals you can save up to 20% on meal deals at Aquatica Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay only at

Coordinators of a new foreclosure-mediation program in McLean County hope to expedite foreclosure litigation, clear up the court's docket, and help make the process a little more user-friendly for people at risk of losing their homes. Find out more in the April Illinois Bar Journal.

The Illinois Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that it has adopted a new rule to facilitate the delivery of legal services in an emergency resulting from a major disaster.

In the case of an Illinois disaster, new Supreme Court Rule 718 would allow attorneys who are licensed in another state to provide pro bono publico legal services to residents of Illinois. In the event of a disaster in another state, the rule would allow attorneys licensed outside of Illinois to provide pro bono legal services to residents of the stricken state who have been displaced to Illinois because of the disaster.

The rule also would allow attorneys licensed in a stricken state to provide legal services in Illinois as long as those legal services arise out of and are reasonably related to the lawyers’ practice of law where the major disaster occurred.

The rule has come to be known as the "Katrina Rule" because it was developed by the American Bar Association in response to the hurricane by that name which wreaked tragedy across New Orleans. The rule, however, is intended to address both natural and man-made disasters such as earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, public health emergencies, and acts of terrorism or war.

Application of the rule would be triggered by the Illinois Supreme Court’s determination that an emergency or other major disaster affecting the justice system had occurred. Attorneys practicing in Illinois pursuant to the new rule would not be allowed to make court appearances in Illinois unless that permission was generally granted by the Illinois Supreme Court in the aftermath of the disaster or pro hac vice admission was obtained in an individual lawsuit.

Karina Zabicki DeHayes
Karina Zabicki DeHayes
The Women’s Bar Association of Illinois (WBAI) will kick off a new term of office on Thursday, June 7, 2012, during its 98th Annual Installation Dinner at the Chicago Hilton Towers. The dinner serves as one of the largest annual celebrations within the Chicago legal community, with over 700 judges, attorneys, corporate supporters and prominent community leaders attending the event each year.

This year, the WBAI celebrates the installation of its incoming President, Karina Zabicki DeHayes, a partner in the Chicago law firm Tabet DiVito & Rothstein LLC. Incoming President Karina Zabicki DeHayes was named in the Law Bulletin’s “40 Under Forty”—Illinois Attorneys to Watch in 2008 and was named an Illinois “Rising Star” by her peers in SuperLawyers® magazine for three consecutive years beginning in 2009, a distinction reserved for the top 2.5 percent of Illinois lawyers who are under 40 or in practice for 10 years or less. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Bar Foundation. At the Dinner, incoming President Karina Zabicki DeHayes will detail the goals for her term and unveil her mission for the upcoming year, “Women and Men Partnering for Excellence.”

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the managing partner of a 16 attorney firm in Santa Monica, California. We represent large energy companies located on the west coast. We are contemplating developing our first strategic plan. We would like to obtain insight from our clients, receive their feedback, and use this information to assess our level of client satisfaction and our competitive profile. However, we are not sure whether we should conduct a random survey involving selecting a percentage of our clients or a census involving surveying all clients rather than taking a sample. Please advise as to your thoughts.

A. Rather than doing a random survey of your client base, you may want a more targeted and focused survey of a particular client group. For example, if 80 to 90 percent of your business comes from 10 clients, you may want to create a survey that is specifically targeted to them. The advantage of a targeted key client survey is that it is limited in scope and precisely focused. Before you commit time and resources to a client survey identify your purpose and establish specific goals and objectives.

Develop a survey plan. Insure that a follow-up strategy is incorporated into the plan.

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