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Practice News

Gabriela O. Asrow of Hoffenberg & Block, LLC discusses the six types of difficult family law clients and how to work with them.


Asked and Answered 

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

Q.  I am the founder, majority partner (80 percent), and managing partner of a 22-attorney firm in Phoenix, Arizona. The firm practice is focused in the area of healthcare. There are 12 equity partners, five non-equity partners, and five associates. I manage the firm as a benevolent dictator. I am becoming overwhelmed trying to manage the firm and practice law and I believe the firm is now at a size where others must become involved in managing the firm. I have been considering forming a committee of all the equity partners to manage the firm. Your thoughts are welcomed.


The Illinois Supreme Court today announced amendments to the January 22, 2016 E-filing Order, with the goal of further facilitating the Illinois courts' statewide move to an electronic filing system. The amendments address court and vendor fees, incarcerated pro se litigants, migration of counties with stand-alone e-filing systems, a statewide remote access system, and criminal e-filing. (For more about mandatory e-filing, see the June Illinois Bar Journal.)

Court and Vendor Fees. Effective July 1, 2017, for the Illinois Supreme Court and Illinois Appellate Court, and effective January 1, 2018, for the circuit courts, no court or e-filing vendor shall charge the filer a transaction or user fee to e-file. The supreme court’s Electronic Filing Standards and Principles (Standards) were created to govern stand-alone e-filing systems in those jurisdictions approved to e-file. The Standards prohibited courts from collecting a fee (beyond the statutory civil filing fees) but allowed for an e-filing vendor to charge a transaction or use fee to the e-filer.

Erica C. Minchella discusses how to help clients with distressed real estate. 


Asked and Answered 

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

Q. I am a sole practitioner in Peoria, Illinois. My firm is a general practice firm that services clients throughout central Illinois. I have four staff members. I am 58. While I have enjoyed having my own practice for the past 20 years, I am concerned – what if something were to happen to me today or tomorrow? What is my backup plan in the event of short-term illness, disability, death, and even vacations? How would the firm keep operating? Who would take care of the client’s needs? How would my staff be taken care of?

A. Sound practice continuation arrangements can solve this dilemma, preserve practice value, and help prevent a lawyer’s spouse or immediate heirs from facing a hasty sale or disposition of the practice in an emergency. A practice continuation arrangement can also give lawyer practitioners, staff, and families peace of mind.

A practice continuation arrangement is an arrangement, typically in the form of an agreement or contract made between an individual lawyer or a small law firm and another lawyer or law firm. The arrangement describes a course of action to transfer a lawyer’s practice and sets payment for its value. In the event of vacation, temporary or permanent disability, or death, a practice continuation arrangement protects the practice, the business interests of the lawyer or law firm’s clients, and the financial interests of the lawyer.

Approaches


Leading appellate attorneys review the Illinois Supreme Court opinions handed down Thursday, May 18. The cases are Better Government Ass'n v. Illinois High School Ass'n, In re Estate of Shelton, Ferris, Thompson & Zweig, Ltd v. Esposito, Chultem v. Ticor Title Insurance Co., and People v. Veach.

CIVIL

Better Government Ass'n v. Illinois High School Ass'n

By Joanne R. Driscoll, Forde Law Offices LLP

In the ongoing battle involving public records requests made of governmental agencies, the supreme court was asked to define the term “subsidiary bod[y]” as used in the definition of “public body” in the Freedom of Information Act (5 ILCS 140/2(a) (West 2014)) and then to determine whether the Illinois High School Association (“IHSA”) is subject to the FOIA.  The IHSA governs and coordinates interscholastic athletic competitions for public and private secondary schools in Illinois.

Marilyn Longwell with Marilyn Longwell & Associates P.C. discusses how to use your client's story to direct and control litigation.


Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am the managing partner of a 16-attorney insurance defense firm in Kansas City. Several of our insurance company clients have advised us that they are willing to send us cases in Texas. We have decided that we would like to establish an office in Texas. Our plan is to hire three lateral attorneys with seven to 12 years of experience with Texas-based insurance defense firms. We are not certain as to the best city to establish this office. We are thinking it should be a central location. We would appreciate your thoughts.

A. Unlike many states that have one or two major cities, Texas has several, including Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Ft. Worth, El Paso, Corpus Christi, and others. Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston are all desirable locations for branch offices. Austin is more centrally located if your goal is to service the entire state.

Jonathan Chatham, with consulting firm Network It Easy, Inc., talks about Microsoft Office 365, the collaboration and productivity software suite from Microsoft. 


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: