On November 15, 2023, the U.S. Department of Education’s (“Department”) Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) released new civil rights data from the 2020-2021 school year, as well as seven data reports and snapshots which provide an overview of that data. OCR also launched a redesigned Civil Rights Data Collection (“CRDC”) website that includes public-use data files, reports, and snapshots, which school districts can use to review their own and other districts’ data, available here.

OCR’s CRDC, a mandatory survey of public schools, provides the federal government and the public with data about the extent to which students have
Continue Reading Civil Rights Data on Students’ Access to Educational Opportunities During the Pandemic Released by U.S. Department of Education

By Jeffery M. Leving:
The coronavirus pandemic impacted every facet of our lives. We changed how we worked. We changed how we socialized. We changed how we parented and educated our children. With all these changes, it should come as no surprise that we changed how the legal system operated, particularly when it came to family law and divorce.
Divorce is likely to be a growing issue in the coming months. According to a recent report in Kiplinger, the rates of people looking to get a divorce increased dramatically once the courts started to open back up after lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.
Continue Reading Two ways COVID changed divorce

Earlier this month, the Oregon Supreme Court unanimously approved an alternative to the bar exam for students hoping to practice law in the state.
Beginning in May 2024, graduates from an ABA-accredited law school can complete a Supervised Practice Portfolio Examination (SPPE) instead of the traditional bar exam. SPPE requires graduates to complete 675 hours of work under the supervision of a licensed Oregon attorney and compile a portfolio of their work, which will be evaluated by the Oregon State Board of Bar Examiners.
Oregon is the first state to implement a program like SPPE, Brian Gallini, Dean of Willamette
Continue Reading Oregon Becomes Third State to Approve Alternative to the Bar Exam

ABSTRACT: In its 2023 year end litigation round up and strategic enforcement plan for fiscal years 2024-28, the EEOC highlights its increased enforcement activities over the past year, and new areas of emphasis for future enforcement.

In its Year End Litigation round up for Fiscal Year 2023, the EEOC reports that systemic lawsuits, defined as “pattern or practice, policy and/or class cases where the discrimination has a broad impact on an industry, profession, company or geographic location,” have increased to 25, nearly doubling the number of filings from the previous year. The EEOC also filed 32 non-systemic class suits
Continue Reading EEOC Issues Its Year End Litigation Round Up and Strategic Enforcement Plan for the Next 5 Years

When COVID-era Title 42 restrictions ended in May, the Biden administration announced new regulations for migrants seeking asylum at the Mexican border. This announcement led to a lawsuit filed by advocacy groups to block the implementation of the regulation. This week, the case made its way to the federal appeals court. Given the unknown of how this lawsuit will be resolved and the complexities of U.S. immigration law, it is critical for anyone seeking asylum to have the legal guidance of an Illinois immigration lawyer.    
Court Case
The regulation makes the assumption that most of those migrants are
Continue Reading Asylum Immigration Regulation Lawsuit Reaches Appeals Court

In 2022, Illinois significantly restricted the use of non-compete agreements with the passage of the Freedom to Work Act. The Act prohibits non-compete agreements for workers earning less than $75,000 per year (adjusted upwards every five years, capped at $90,000 per year beginning on January 1, 2037), prohibits non-solicitation agreements for workers earning less than $45,000 per year (again, adjusted every five years), requires certain notices to accompany non-competition and non-solicitation agreements, and restricts the use of such agreements for many COVID-related layoffs and for most construction workers and for public workers or educators covered by collective bargaining agreements.

Continue Reading Illinois Freedom to Work Act – Are Non-Competes On Their Way Out?

The resumption of student loan payments has been a hot topic in recent months, as many borrowers felt the pressure of the impending restart of their financial obligations. For many, the COVID-19 pandemic brought financial uncertainty and relief in the form of temporary payment pauses. However, with the pause ending, borrowers have had to confront their student loan debt once again. This transitional period has been marked by both anxiety and hope, thanks to programs like those offered by Daniel J. Winter and StudentLoanLawChicago, and we have already helped many borrowers get back on track with their payment plans and
Continue Reading Empowering Borrowers: The First Month After the Student Loan Payments Resumed

When Jerome “Jerry” Larkin joined the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) in 1978, he had just graduated from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, spent eight years in the Catholic seminary system, and knew he wanted to dedicate his career to public service.
After just a couple of years at the ARDC—an entity charged by the Illinois Supreme Court with upholding the legal profession’s integrity in Illinois—Larkin began to realize he might have found the place where he could accomplish his mission.
“As early as year three or four, I was sitting on a curb with John O’Malley
Continue Reading Marking the Retirement of Jerry Larkin, Who Led the ARDC With Exceptional Foresight, Integrity, and ‘Irish Wit’

Our Professionalism Spotlight series highlights Illinois legal professionals who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives.
The Professionalism Spotlight replaces our popular Lawyer Spotlight series, to recognize the inspiring work of lawyers, as well as paralegals, court clerks, legal assistants, trial court administrators, law school personnel, and other legal and court professionals across the state.
These individuals are all essential in the delivery of equitable, efficient, and effective justice in Illinois.
In our first Professionalism Spotlight, we profile Thomas McClure, a professor in Illinois State University’s Department of Politics and Government where he teaches paralegal education
Continue Reading Professionalism Spotlight: Thomas McClure, Illinois State University

Baker Sterchi Member Megan Stumph-Turner recently presented the Quimbee CLE course, “Hot Topics in Real Estate Litigation.” This program delves into current trends in real estate litigation, such as antitrust cases, post-pandemic force majeure clause disputes and construction delay and cost-related litigation.
Stumph-Turner is located in Baker Sterchi’s Kansas City office, with a practice focused on civil litigation across various areas, including creditors’ rights, financial services, real estate, construction and commercial litigation. She has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America for her outstanding work in real estate and commercial litigation in the Kansas City Metropolitan area. She is
Continue Reading Megan Stumph-Turner Presents on Hot Topics in Real Estate Litigation

The average cost of owning a vehicle in 2022 was $10,728, about 17.5 percent of the median income for a household of one in the state of Illinois.

Macroeconomic Environment


The macro-economic global environment is still experiencing fallout from many governments’ economic policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic which included, stimulus packages supporting individuals and businesses with direct payments, increase unemployment benefits, and grants to businesses. Additionally, the government mandated that many businesses shut down to stop the spread of the coronavirus through social interaction. These policies caused demand to increase and supply to decrease, causing a significant
Continue Reading The Automobile Financing Crisis

The legal process of foreclosure has been historically inclined towards banks and lenders. This process demands homeowners to relinquish their homes to lenders upon defaulting on their mortgages. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with the government stepping in to retain homeownership, over 214,000 foreclosure lawsuits were filed in the US in 2020.
However, many homeowners now resist foreclosure by delaying or completely stopping the proceedings using a legal strategy called foreclosure defense.
What Is Foreclosure Defense?
The primary objective of foreclosure defense is to establish that the bank doesn’t have the legal right to foreclose. The likelihood of success heavily depends
Continue Reading Foreclosure Defense: Everything You Need to Know to Fight Back

Hospital workers play a vital role in healthcare but face various occupational hazards that can result in injuries. Like any industry, on-the-job injuries and illnesses can happen and disrupt a healthcare worker’s job and life in general. 
Illinois requires employers to carry workers’ compensation coverage to provide benefits to injured workers, and the healthcare industry is no different. However, large hospitals and their insurers can make it challenging to receive the benefits you deserve. Never hesitate to seek help from a Joliet, workers’ compensation lawyer if you need to pursue a claim. 
Common Injuries to Hospital Staff on the Job
Continue Reading Workers’ Compensation Claims for Hospital Workers

ABSTRACT: In a move that may further exacerbate the growing “nuclear verdict” issue in Illinois, plaintiffs will now be permitted to seek punitive damages from defendants under the Wrongful Death Act and Survival Act. While this law may be challenged on constitutionality grounds in the near future, we examine the history of this new amendment and its potential impact to businesses in Illinois.

For the first time in its history, Illinois approved an amendment expanding punitive damages recovery to Plaintiffs under the Wrongful Death and Survival Acts. Previously, Illinois courts held that punitive damages rights belonged to the injured person
Continue Reading Illinois Expands Law to Allow Punitive Damages for Wrongful Death and Survival Plaintiffs

ABSTRACT: The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Defendant’s removal to federal court based on (1) diversity; (2) preemption; (3) and U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1) were improper and thus, a COVID-19 nursing home wrongful death suit can proceed in Missouri state court.

In June 2020, the plaintiff, the son of a nursing home resident who contracted and died from COVID-19, brought suit in Missouri state court against the nursing home, its corporate owners, and twelve individual defendants. Plaintiff asserted Missouri causes of action for wrongful death, negligence per se, and lost chance of survival. While none of the corporate
Continue Reading Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Allows COVID-19 Case to Proceed in Missouri State Court

ABSTRACT: The Supreme Court reversed the standard for “undue hardship” under Title VII. What that means for employers and vaccine requirements.
In a Supreme Court term with many headline-grabbing decisions, the high court’s decision in Groff v. De Joy might be the most immediately consequential for employers. In Groff, the Supreme Court changed the prevailing standard for employers responding to employees’ religious accommodation requests under Title VII. By the plain language of the statute, it is unlawful for employers to deny a religious accommodation unless the accommodation would create an “undue hardship” for the employer. Thanks to language from
Continue Reading Supreme Court Reverses Standard for "Undue Hardship" in Title VII Religious Accommodation Cases