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


If you have a subscription to Veranda magazine...or home-design-related boards on Pinterest...or love watching HGTV — today is your (D4S) day — because today, we're talking office style.

Different Strokes for Different Folks. Gone is a one-size-fits-all office. Legal office settings are just as varied as the different areas of law practiced. One person may have the corner office in a Chicago highrise while another is working from a home office in Mt. Vernon. Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum, your office environment contributes to your overall happiness and productivity.

For those of you who accomplished last week's decluttering challenge, you're ready to move on to the next step in creating an office that not only works for you but also gives you #goodfeels.


Looking to update the look of your entire law firm?

Check out the trendy design of Strauss & Malk LLP's Lake Forest Office on Houzz.

Design by Lisa Wolfe Design Ltd. Reprinted with permission from Strauss & Malk LLP.
Design by Lisa Wolfe Design Ltd. Reprinted with permission from Strauss & Malk LLP.


Congratulations to Steven Pietrick, who was selected at random to win $250 after filling out our usability survey. We asked members to complete a usability survey, the results of which will help us as we work to redesign the ISBA website. Thank you to the more than 400 members who participated in the survey. 



Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the managing partner of a 12-attorney firm in Toledo, Ohio. Our firm is evaluating new billing software and we are looking into some of the cloud-based solutions. We are currently using a desktop program that we have been using for 15 years. The program handles our billing as well as our accounting. We have kept up with the updates to the program and the software has worked well for us. Several of our younger attorneys have used a couple of cloud-based billing programs in other firms and are trying to convince the firm to change over to one of these programs. They believe it is easier to enter time sheets and the software is easier to work with. What are your thoughts?

A. I agree that the subscription cloud-based billing programs are easier to learn and use. In part this is due to limited function and capabilities. However, user simplicity is only part of the equation. The bigger question is whether the software will meet your needs. Many of the cloud-based programs were designed for solo practitioners or very small firms with limited reporting requirements. While these programs are getting better and inheriting more features they are still not up to par with the older desktop programs. Limitations include:


Winning #deskie
Winning #deskie
Congratulations to Joy Gossman for winning a set of Marie Kondo's books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Life-Changing Maging: A Journal, and a Royal 1600mx paper shredder in ISBA's #deskie challenge on Instagram!

On the first day of Member Appreciation Month, we tackled de-cluttering Marie Kondo-style and asked readers to share a photo of their decluttered desks or the item that sparks the most joy.We loved seeing your photos of our tips being put to good use in your offices and what brings our members joy during the workday! 

Don't forget to check out our Membership Appreciation Month site for upcoming promotions.



There's probably no better way to project a polished professional presence than having a good brand. Today we're looking at what that means exactly, and exploring ways to improve yours.

Your Brand Is Your Promise to Your Client. If you Google 'branding' you'll find many different descriptions of what it means. But at the heart of it, your brand is how others see you based on how you present yourself and the characteristics that define you. This is your personal brand.

Your professional brand adds the context of your work to that equation, defining your unique value proposition in the marketplace.

And your firm brand is about the reputation and value proposition of your firm as a whole, not just you (unless you are a solo lawyer).


"Knowing who you are, what you stand for, your professional strengths and what clients can expect when they hire you - as well as being able to communicate this clearly and effectively - will be key to your success both in terms of becoming better known internally (within your law firm) and externally (with your clients)." - The Importance of Personal Branding for Lawyers, Stephanie Solakian Goldstein


It's Sunday afternoon and the neighbor kid's drone comes buzzing over your yard, maybe 50 feet overhead. Like any good lawyer you ask yourself, "Is this drone flight violating my airspace?" (If you're a really good lawyer, you refer to "airspace" as "vertical curtilage.")

The short answer is yes, writes Elizabeth Austermuehle in the April ISBA Real Property newsletter. "[I]n the absence of federal or state regulations granting drones the right to fly over private property without the property owner's permission, drones do not have the right to do so," she writes. Though Illinois has passed legislation ordering up a task-force report on drone regulation (due July 2017), state law does not currently regulate drone use.

As for federal law, the FAA has long permitted flights over private property in "navigable airspace," which generally applies to the space 500 feet and higher above ground, Austermuehle writes. But it hasn't had much to say about drones - at least not until June 2016, when the agency "released its first operational rules for routine use of small [unmanned aircraft systems]," she writes. "The rules offer safety regulations for UAS weighing less than 55 pounds conducting non-hobbyist operations. Among other things, the rules require drone operators to keep the drones within their visual line of sight and prohibit flights over unprotected people on the ground who are not directly participating in the UAS operation."



The Illinois State Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service provides referrals to local lawyers Mondays through Fridays.  The Service makes referrals in a number of areas of law.  For the month of April, there were at total of 940 calls.



Today's challenge is to create a more thoughtful out-of-office ('OOO') message, also called an automatic email responder, to better serve and delight your clients.

An Easy Way to Extend Your Customer Service. Picture this...it's the end of the day the Friday before your week-long vacation. You're about to shut down your computer when you remember - shoot! - I need to let everyone know I'll be out next week. So you log back into Outlook/Gmail, spend 60 seconds updating your last (generic) OOO message with next week's dates, and 2 minutes later you're out the door.

Sound familiar? If so, you're not alone.

And while just the basics will suffice, it's certainly not taking advantage of the opportunity to create a positive memorable experience for the reader. You've worked hard to develop client relationships and deliver exceptional service while you're in the office. It's time to extend that to your client touches when you're out of the office as well.

The Bare Necessities. A professional OOO message should at minimum cover the following 3 items:



Don’t miss ISBA’s final installment of the Family Law Table Clinic Series! Join us in Chicago on May 18, 2017 as our speakers offer informal table top presentations on a number of key family law topics, including how to understand financial statements, personal returns, operating agreements, and LLC returns; proving marital and non-marital characterization; maintenance issues; property division; issues with pension and retirement asset division; and more. This interactive innovative CLE format gives you ample opportunity to ask questions, clarify issues, and discuss concerns with faculty members at the end of each presentation. Attendees move from table to table throughout the day, gaining the perspective of both experienced and newer attorney speakers throughout each 30 minute table clinic. The series is open to all levels of practice experience, but designed with attorneys new to family law (or who need a refresher) in mind.

The program is presented by the ISBA Family Law Section and qualifies for 6.0 hours MCLE credit.

Click here for more information and to register.



Enter 'MMAM17' as a coupon code when viewing your shopping cart in the Bookstore.


Save 25% on ISBA books, Fastbooks and merchandise* from May 8-19.

ISBA books are a great resource to help save you time and money. Covering a wide range of subjects, all books are written by recognized authorities and are focused on Illinois law.

Each title is available in a convenient paperback format, and most are also available as a downloadable Fastbooks PDF. Because Fastbooks are downloadable and searchable, they make it easy to always have the law at your fingertips.

What's more, most ISBA books are bundled with a complimentary Fastbook PDF that you can download after placing your order.

A few recent bestsellers include...