A new, interactive glossary from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) translates complex legal terms into plain language that it says courts should use when communicating with the public.
The glossary rephrases 46 terms into simpler language that is more transparent and easier to understand. Examples include:

  • Using “amount claimed,” not “ad damnum”
  • Using “eviction court,” not “forcible entry and detainer court”
  • Using “person who signed,” not “affiant”

The glossary also includes links to a court form or document that uses the suggested language effectively. These examples come from more than 20 different state courts, including several from Illinois.
Continue Reading ‘Use This, Not This’ Says NCSC Glossary That Translates Complex Legal Terms into Plain Language

Quick show of hands—who has taken an online CLE that is a one-hour video of an expert talking to the camera? Everyone? Now let me ask you this: how engaging was the CLE and what did you learn?
The basic principles of adult education tell us that learning must make the learner feel good (endorphins), challenged (dopamine), and in control; that learning through experience is more likely to stick; and that people will commit to learning when they can connect it to their experiences, beliefs, or to tangible outcomes that meet their needs.
Too often in online CLE we attempt
Continue Reading Flip the Script: Use CLE Presenters as Resources, Not the Focus

The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice is requesting public comment on standardized eviction answer forms meant to help self-represented litigants respond to an Eviction Complaint.
The “Eviction Answer, Defenses, and Counterclaims” form suite includes the forms “Getting Started Responding to an Eviction Complaint,” “How to Respond to an Eviction Complaint,” “Eviction Answer,” “Eviction Answer Additional Bad Property Conditions,” and “Eviction Answer Additional Defenses/Counterclaims.”
The forms are available for comment on the Illinois Courts website until December 30, 2022.
After the public comment period ends, the Commission on Access to Justice will review the feedback and
Continue Reading Public Comment Requested for Standardized Eviction Answer Forms

Online legal education endures as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. And, according to the 2022 Law School Survey for Student Engagement (LSSSE), it is here to stay.
The LSSSE surveyed more than 13,000 law students at 70 law schools in 2022. The goal of the survey, which was administered by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, is to “improve legal education and inform decision-making and compliance efforts, enhance student success, facilitate internal assessment and analysis, and support research on legal education.”
LSSSE found that, over the past year, at least half of law students were enrolled in at
Continue Reading Diverse Students More Likely to Participate in Law School Courses Online, According to Survey

Our Lawyer Spotlight series highlights Illinois lawyers who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives.
Timothy S. Tomasik is a founding member of Tomasik Kotin Kasserman, LLC., a Chicago-based personal injury firm. His primary practice area is plaintiff’s personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, trucking litigation, and transportation. Before his personal injury practice, he spent more than eight years as a prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Timothy is president of the Chicago Bar Association for the 2022-2023 term.
How has your practice evolved during the last few years?
I have committed to focusing on
Continue Reading Lawyer Spotlight: Timothy S. Tomasik, CBA President

Soft skills are the hard skills. Professor, author, and leadership researcher Brené Brown recently made this point in her “Dare to Lead” podcast.

Brown, who has worked with organizations ranging from the U.S. military to Pixar and IBM, said that if people are asked to choose a course on learning PowerPoint skills or on having a tough conversation, they would choose PowerPoint 100% of the time. Why? Because having a tough conversation is hard.

Brown’s sentiment made me think about professional responsibility (PR) CLE. We can often discount PR CLEs as “soft skill” courses and aren’t as important to our
Continue Reading Valuing ‘Soft Skills’ Will Make Us Better Lawyers

What were the legal ramifications of the 1919 Black Sox scandal? A new theatrical production from the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission takes another look in light of recent research that challenges established myths.

The Black Sox scandal occurred when eight members of the Chicago White Sox allegedly threw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate.

You may recognize some of the names of the accused players: “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Arnold “Chick” Gandil, Eddie Cicotte, Oscar “Happy” Felsch, Fred McMullin, Charles “Swede” Risberg, George “Buck” Weaver, and Claude “Lefty” Williams.
Continue Reading ‘History on Trial’ Series Reexamines Legal Ramifications of 1919 Black Sox Scandal

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, a time when we increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and the more than 6.2 million Americans living with it. And as our population ages, the chances that a lawyer may interact with a client with cognitive decline may increase too.

The Alzheimer’s Association predicts that 12.7 million Americans 65 and older (almost 1 in 6) will have Alzheimer’s by 2050.

Someone showing signs of diminished capacity may be experiencing acute symptoms, while others may be encountering a chronic and eventually debilitating condition impacting one’s mental and physical functioning.

Few lawyers are medical professionals, qualified to
Continue Reading Ethical Considerations for Lawyers When Responding to Clients With Cognitive Decline

This week, the legal technology company Clio released its annual Legal Trends Report, which is an industry benchmark for workplace and economic trends in the legal industry.

The survey included 1,134 legal professionals, 458 professionals from other industries, and 1,168 consumers in the U.S. in April and May 2022, as well as aggregated and anonymized data from tens of thousands of Clio’s product users to determine how and where these legal professionals are working.

While high demand for legal services has meant significant financial opportunities for many firms, sustained inflation and the risk of a recession on the horizon
Continue Reading Clio Legal Trends Report Anticipates Stress in a Strong Legal Marketplace  

Calling all Illinois attorneys. It’s time to give back. National Pro Bono Week is coming up!

Legal and civic organizations throughout the country will celebrate the annual National Pro Bono Week from October 23 – 29. This year the theme “Law in Everyday Life” will highlight how legal assistance can help low-income or other marginalized individuals in all aspects of their lives.

National Pro Bono Week is coordinated by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service to inspire pro bono participation.

The Preamble to the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct outlines a lawyer’s responsibility to
Continue Reading Celebrate Pro Bono Week from October 23 – 29, 2022

When considering staying at a job, work-life balance, compensation, welcoming and collaborative workplaces, and remote work options top the list for today’s lawyers, according to a new nationwide survey from the American Bar Association.
Some key findings: 54% of women lawyers and 44% percent of all lawyers practicing 10 years or less would change jobs for the greater ability to work remotely; attorneys reported a high level of stress at work on account of their race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability status; and nearly half of all attorneys say better work-life balance and increased compensation are very or extremely important
Continue Reading How Can Legal Employers Keep Their Attorneys Satisfied?

The Commission often covers Illinois’ rural access to justice crisis and the promising programs aimed at addressing it. However, challenges attracting rural lawyers remain.

According to the Illinois State Bar Association, there is fewer than one attorney per 1,000 people in more than 50 Illinois counties. Three Illinois counties have only a single attorney.

And as established lawyers in rural communities retire, new attorneys aren’t moving in to take their place. Based on 2021 bar admissions data, of the 7,872 new attorneys who were admitted and practicing in Illinois in the four years preceding 2022, roughly 90% practiced
Continue Reading Illinois Lawyers Asked to Weigh in on Rural A2J Crisis During ISBA Listening Tour

While some lawyers view incivility as a relatively minor transgression, a recent New York Supreme Court decision shows incivility can be costly.

Justice Andrea Masley’s decision is noteworthy not only because of the steep penalties she imposed but also because of the strength of the opinion itself. Justice Masley rejected the notion that incivility is simply vigorous advocacy and instead reinforced civility as a first principle of the legal profession.
Objecting on the grounds of ‘being obnoxious’
The litigation at issue involved a dispute over music publishing and production agreements between plaintiff Jacob Hindlin, a music writer and producer, and
Continue Reading The True Cost of Incivility in the Legal Profession

1Ls at the University of Chicago Law School
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to announce that it has again had the privilege of facilitating professionalism orientations for 1Ls at Illinois’ nine law schools.

Each year, Illinois Supreme Court and Appellate Court justices, federal judges, and Illinois circuit court judges introduce incoming law students to the principles of professionalism and explain why it matters in their legal careers.

They then lead the students in the Pledge of Professionalismduring which the students commit to practicing integrity, civility, and respect as law students and future attorneys.

Given the COVID-19
Continue Reading Illinois 1Ls Pledge to Professionalism in Annual Professionalism Orientations

I can’t think of a more appropriate visual metaphor for a blog on productive procrastination than the version history of the blog as it was written.
I began to draft the piece on August 26, driven by a desire to have the piece finished well ahead of my mid-September deadline. I returned to work on it on September 1, a little deflated that I hadn’t achieved more, but not too concerned as I still had ample time to finish. Ditto on September 7.
And then September 13 hit, and I realized that my procrastination had pushed me right up against
Continue Reading Productive Procrastination: How to Feel Good About Avoiding Tasks

The Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee is asking for public input on six proposed updates to Supreme Court Rules in areas including peremptory strikes, fee arrangements, and e-Filing.

A live public hearing will be held on Wednesday, October 5, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. To testify at the hearing, email RulesCommittee@illinoiscourts.gov no later than Wednesday, September 28, 2022.

Written comments are also invited and should be submitted no later than Wednesday, September 28, 2022.

Please email written comments to RulesCommittee@illinoiscourts.gov or mail to: Committee Secretary, Supreme Court Rules Committee, 222 N. LaSalle Street, 13th Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60601.

The public will
Continue Reading Sign Up to Testify On Proposed Rule Changes Regarding Peremptory Strikes, e-Filing, and Fee Arrangements