Northwestern Pritzker School of Law has joined a national initiative aimed at creating a more diverse legal profession. The Move the Needle Fund, a first-of-its-kind experimental “laboratory,” will test innovative approaches to improving diversity and inclusion over five years at five U.S. law firms. These pilots will serve as roadmaps for diversity and inclusion efforts in the legal profession and beyond. The Move the Needle Fund is a unique collaboration between the Diversity Lab — an incubator for innovative ideas and solutions that boost diversity and inclusion in law — law firms, more than 25 general counsel, community leaders and…
Legal organizations around Illinois and the nation will celebrate Pro Bono Week October 20-26. During and after Pro Bono Week, legal and civic organizations will hold events raising awareness of pro bono opportunities and the contributions of lawyers. Attorneys will also have the opportunity to volunteer their time. Model Rule 6.1 states that lawyers have a “professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay.” Last year, 32,866 Illinois lawyers performed over 2 million hours of pro bono service, according to the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission’s 2018 Annual Report. The report also states that 19,871 Illinois…
Last week, the Illinois Judicial Conference released a three-year strategic agenda for the Illinois Judicial Branch. The agenda, which runs through 2022, outlines the mission, vision and core values of the judicial branch, as well as organizational goals and strategies for achieving those goals. “If the courts are to continue to make good on the promise of equal justice under law in this new and challenging environment, we must be proactive. Waiting for problems to develop and then responding will no longer do,” wrote Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier in the strategic agenda. “Rather, it is critical…
When Jesse Ruiz was sworn in as Chicago Bar Association (CBA) president in June 2019, he said his primary focus was investing in the future. To combat declining membership in professional associations nationally, Ruiz said that through career advancement and educational opportunities, the CBA must be “indispensable to our members by preparing them for the future.” Ruiz, the son of an undocumented immigrant, also wants to make the CBA “a kind of focal point for other diverse groups.” During his tenure, he will focus on collaboration with diverse bar associations and prioritize advancing diversity on the bench. We caught up…
Yesterday, the Chicago Bar Association (CBA) and the Chicago Bar Foundation (CBF) launched a joint task force to respond to the market failure in consumer legal services. In addition to addressing the gap in access to legal services, the CBA/CBF Task Force on the Sustainable Practice of Law and Innovation will address how lawyers are hampered and suffering under the current regime. As CBF Executive Director Bob Glaves said at the kick off, “this new task force is dedicated to looking at how can we modernize the regulations governing the practice of law so that lawyers can practice in a…
In September, Michigan adopted an ethical duty of technology competency for lawyers. This makes Michigan the 37th state to adopt the standard since the American Bar Association amended Comment 8 to Rule 1.1. in its Model Rules of Professional Conduct in 2012. The Michigan amendment will take effect on January 1, 2020. The Michigan Supreme Court’s order amends the comments to Rule 1.1 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct. The new rule is as follows (modified text underlined): To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should engage in continuing study and education, including the knowledge and…
Steven Fus is a pro bono attorney and legal advisor. He formerly served as an Associate General Counsel for United Airlines, Inc. What’s your primary practice area? What drew you to this area? I’ve been fortunate during my 30-year career at United [Airlines] to have practiced in several different practice areas. Most recently, I oversaw international, regulatory, alliances, environmental, health and safety. I’ve always loved aviation and spent virtually all of my career working for an airline. After obtaining Federal Aviation Administration certifications as an aircraft mechanic and pilot, I started my career as an airline mechanic. I wanted to advance and learned that I could leverage my experience, with additional…
Steve Fus is a pro bono attorney and legal advisor. He formerly served as Associate General Counsel for United Airlines, Inc. What’s your primary practice area? What drew you to this area? I’ve been fortunate during my 30-year career at United [Airlines] to have practiced in several different practice areas. Most recently, I oversaw international, regulatory, alliances, environmental, health and safety. I’ve always loved aviation and spent virtually all of my career working for an airline. After obtaining Federal Aviation Administration certifications as an aircraft mechanic and pilot, I started my career as an airline mechanic. I wanted to advance and learned that I could leverage my experience, with additional education,…
I’ve had a few weeks to reflect on ILTACON 2019 in Orlando. It was my first ILTACON so I knew little of what to expect outside of the scheduled content and vendor list. However, I knew for sure that it would be big and there would be a lot of conversations. And like most conferences, the conversations would generate valuable nuggets of information to bring home. It delivered! Here are a few takeaway conversations I overheard during my days (and nights) at #ILTACON19. “We Should Collaborate” Our society is entrenched in crowdsourcing and group engagement. Therefore it’s no surprise…
Each year, National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the Latino community’s contributions to American history, heritage and culture. In 1968, the U.S. Congress authorized and requested that the president issue an annual proclamation designating the week that included September 15 and 16 as National Hispanic Heritage Week. President Lyndon Johnson issued the first proclamation that year. It stated, in part: Wishing to pay special tribute to the Hispanic tradition, and having in mind the fact that our five Central American neighbors celebrate their Independence Day on the fifteenth of September and the Republic of Mexico on the sixteenth, the Congress by…
I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of diversity in the legal profession. Naturally, I’m asking questions of myself and others. How can I act to improve diversity? And will it matter? Though efforts are being made, the racial makeup of the legal profession hasn’t budged much in the past decade. Moreover, the discrepancy between the diversity of the legal profession and the general population is alarming. According to the 2019 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession, 5% of all lawyers are African American — the same number as 10 years earlier. However, the U.S. population is 13.4%…
The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) and The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) are partnering on the novel U.S. Justice Needs survey to evaluate the legal needs of American people and businesses not typically studied. Historically, U.S. access to justice studies have been limited in geographic scope or focused on those with lower incomes, says IAALS. US Justice Needs will be the first assessment of the legal needs of people of all income levels and regions of the country. This includes those in urban and rural areas, and small and mid-size…
Erika Harold is a litigation attorney at Meyer Capel, P.C. in Champaign, Illinois, where she handles complex commercial litigation matters and disputes involving wills, estates and trusts. She has served on the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism since 2017. Why did you want to become a lawyer? When I was in high school, I was the victim of racial and sexual harassment and ultimately had to transfer to a different school because of the hostile environment that had been created. After leaving the school, I explored various forms of legal recourse. However, lawyers explained to me that the case law…
The Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) is accepting applications for attorneys to be part of its new Leadership Academy. Applications will be accepted from Sept. 23 to Oct. 18, 2019. The Leadership Academy is designed to “enhance the professional careers of young, diverse members of the Illinois Bar.” ISBA President David B. Sosin told the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin that even though lawyers learn valuable skills in law school, they’re not being taught leadership skills. By establishing the Leadership Academy, the ISBA is filling an education gap and preparing young lawyers to be future leaders. This year, a maximum of…
The justices of the Supreme Court of Illinois have selected Hon. Anne Burke to serve as their next chief justice. Burke was sworn in on Sept. 10, 2019, with an effective date of Oct. 26, 2019. Her three-year term will run through Oct. 25, 2022. Burke will be the court’s 121st chief justice. Burke succeeds Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier, who has served in the role since 2016. She will be the third woman to serve as chief justice, following the late Justice Mary Ann McMorrow and Justice Rita B. Garman. The position of chief justice rotates among the seven…
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice (ATJ Commission) and the Administrative Office of the Illinois Court (AOIC) are looking to improve the resources and programs available to self-represented litigants (SLRs). As such, the organizations are hoping to expand the number of statewide circuits participating in the self-represented litigant coordinator network. The organizations have issued a request for proposals from all Illinois judicial circuits to support new SRL coordinators. The application deadline is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. Outside of Cook County, roughly 65% of civil cases have one SRL. This lack of legal representation creates…