Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism

Our Mission To promote a culture of civility and inclusion, in which Illinois lawyers and judges embody the ideals of the legal profession in service to the administration of justice in our democratic society.

Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism Blogs

Latest from Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism

During the American Bar Association’s recent ABA Equity Summit, Torey Dolan, an attorney and scholar who focuses on Native American self-determination and political actualization, spoke on the slow growth of Native American attorneys in the law, especially in leadership positions.
“We just got here,” Dolan said during a discussion about Native American attorneys securing seats at the table to weigh in on issues impacting the legal profession.
Dolan, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma who serves on the Board of the National Native American Bar Association, was kind enough to speak to us about the experiences of
Continue Reading How to Create Intentional Pathways for Native American Attorneys

The American Bar Association recently released a qualitative study on the experiences of Native American women in the legal profession. The study is only the second national study focused on Native American attorneys and the first specifically focused on Native American women attorneys.
While younger generations of Native American women attorneys noted in the study that advancements have been made in terms of access to law school and legal careers, they still feel the same levels of bias, harassment, and isolation experienced by generations before them.
As one respondent noted, “I feel like Native American lawyers are relegated to footnotes,
Continue Reading ‘Native American Talent is Invaluable’: A Q&A With ABA President Mary Smith

During this season of giving, we had the opportunity to connect with Illinois legal leaders who were recently recognized by the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) for their pro bono work and contributions to access to justice. These pro bono award winners were honored during the annual National Pro Bono Week celebration, which highlights inspiring work in pro bono and volunteerism.

In the Q&A below, we spoke with the following legal leaders to learn more about why they do pro bono work, how they balance it with workplace demands, and some memorable pro bono experiences throughout their careers.

Continue Reading Season of Giving: A Q&A with Illinois Pro Bono Leaders

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

In response to public concerns about a lack of ethics rules governing U.S. Supreme Court Justices, the U.S. Supreme Court adopted a Code of Conduct for Supreme Court Justices (Code) earlier this month.
While the Court said it codified these rules and principles to “dispel this misunderstanding” that U.S. Supreme Court Justices are not bound to ethics rules, a statement preceding the Code noted that “for the most part” the rules aren’t new. The statement went on to say that the Court has adhered to the “equivalent of common law ethics rules” for some time.
The reaction from the legal
Continue Reading Reaction from the Legal Profession to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Code of Conduct

A new study from the American Bar Association documents the frustration and isolation Native American women lawyers feel in a profession that they feel relegates them “to footnotes.”

In “Excluded and Alone: Examining the Experiences of Native American Women in the Law and a Path Towards Equity,” the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and the National Native American Bar Association collaborated in what is only the second research study focused on Native American attorneys and the first specifically on Native American women.

The qualitative study explored the experiences of 74 Native American women each at one
Continue Reading New ABA Study Finds Native American Women Lawyers Feel ‘Relegated to Footnotes’

Law firms may lose an average of 10%—or $21,982,675—of their annual staffing costs due to poor employee mental health, according to a survey of six BigLaw firms by Unmind, a workplace mental health solutions provider.

This equates to almost $22 million lost in staffing costs annually or $14,512 per employee, based on estimated loss of wages from firms who participated in the survey.

These losses spurred by poor mental health can include deteriorated work quality, absenteeism, and attrition.

The data is based on a survey of 3,814 attorneys and professionals from U.S. law firms. The questions covered things
Continue Reading Law Firms Lose 10% of Staffing Costs Due to Employee Mental Health, Study Finds

On November 9, 2023, the Illinois Supreme Court welcomed 1,360 new attorneys to the profession across the state, bringing the total number of licensed Illinois attorneys to approximately 98,000.
As newly admitted lawyers who have graduated from law school and passed the bar exam, you’ve already proven your legal knowledge and prowess. But you may not be well-versed in another skill that is just as important in our client-driven profession: good customer service.
As a lawyer, clients will seek your services based on your proven expertise and knowledge in the field. But if you want them to stick around, you
Continue Reading Customer Service 101 for New Lawyers

The Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee will hold a public hearing on November 15 to hear public comment on five proposals. The hearing will include proposed amendments to Rule 8.4, which focuses on attorney misconduct, and Rule 794, which outlines the 6-hour professional responsibility MCLE requirement.
The hearing will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (222 N. LaSalle Street, 13th Floor, Chicago) and livestreamed here.
Those wishing to comment on the proposals should submit written statements to the Rules Committee no later than Wednesday, November 8. Comments can be emailed
Continue Reading Illinois Supreme Court to Hold Public Hearing on 5 Proposed Rule Amendments, Including Rules Impacting Professionalism

Legal departments attempting to control costs are moving work in-house, according to a recent survey of in-house legal professionals by the Association of Corporate Counsel and legal tech company Everlaw.
In the survey, 66% of respondents cited bringing work in-house as their top cost-cutting strategy. Respondents noted insourcing increases value by using internal expertise and improves cost predictability.
And this may be a trend, according to a report from Thomson Reuters on how legal departments are looking to control costs. The report found that 68% of legal departments are planning to bring more work in-house over the next year.
Continue Reading In-House Legal Departments Cut Costs with Less Outsourcing, Survey Says

The Illinois Supreme Court announced this week amendments to Rule 299 that will double compensation for an attorney appointed by a court in Illinois to represent an indigent party.
The amended Rule raises attorney compensation to $150 per hour, up from its previous minimum of $75 per hour. Attorneys will also receive $150 per hour “for time reasonably expended out of court” (up from its previous minimum of $50 per hour) and maximum compensation for representing an indigent defendant of $10,000 (up from its previous maximum of $5,000).
The amendments are effective on Jan. 1, 2024. Rule 299 was last
Continue Reading Illinois Supreme Court Increases Compensation for Attorneys Representing Indigent Parties

Law firms looking to improve collection rates should consider online billing and payment options, according to new data from Clio’s 2023 Legal Trends Report. And their clients will appreciate the efficiencies.
According to 2021 data from Clio, a legal technology company, 66% of consumers said they prefer to make payments for legal services online, while roughly 60% said they are comfortable viewing and sharing documents with attorneys through email or secure client portals.
Each year, Clio summarizes trends impacting the legal profession in its Legal Trends Report. The report is based on data from legal professionals who use
Continue Reading Clio Identifies Small Efficiencies That Can Add Up Big for Law Firm Revenue

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

Shouldn’t all residents in the state of Illinois, regardless of the language they speak, have access to quality legal services?
I recently came across this startling statistic: According to the U.S. Census, more than 23 percent of households in Illinois spoke a language other than English at home between 2017 and 2021. That equates to roughly 1.123 million Illinois households, according to Acutrans, a translation and interpretation service.
This diversity of language means a significant number of legal clients in Illinois may have Limited English Proficiency (LEP). Nevertheless, they deserve legal and justice systems that are accessible to them.
Continue Reading Bilingual Attorneys: An Essential Conduit Between Culture and Justice 

The current national standards for public defender caseloads, set in 1973, are “outdated, not empirically based, and inadequate” and should be updated for public defenders to adequately represent indigent clients, according to findings from a recent study.
The National Public Defense Workload Study set out to create new national standards for public defender workloads, which the study says are essential for adequate funding and staffing so that public defenders can competently represent their clients per the Rules of Professional Conduct and as guaranteed to indigent defendants by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The study was conducted
Continue Reading Current Standards for Public Defender Caseloads Are Too High, Study Says