The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to welcome Justice Mary Ellen Coghlan, Judge Franklin U. Valderrama, and attorney Kurt Reitz as new Commissioners. The Commissioners were appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court for three-year terms beginning on January 1, 2021. “Justice Coghlan, Judge Valderrama, and attorney Reitz are well-known for their professionalism and contributions to the bar and their communities,” said Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne M. Burke. “I look forward to working with our new Commissioners to promote civility and professionalism in Illinois’ legal community. In addition, I would like to thank past-Commissioners Judge Jorge…
As the tumultuous year of 2020 was ending, I started looking for positive stories that would provide hope for 2021. To my surprise, they were not hard to find. In reaching out to lawyers across Illinois, I found examples of how the resiliency that lawyers had developed led to increased professionalism. Resiliency has become a buzz word for effectively dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, lawyers aren’t known for their resiliency. Dr. Larry Richard, a leading expert on the psychology of lawyer behavior, found that 90% of lawyers score in the bottom half of the scale on the psychological trait…
This week, the Illinois legal profession welcomed 1,590 new lawyers to its ranks. Attorneys from Illinois’ five districts were sworn in during a virtual, statewide bar admission ceremony on Thursday, January 14. Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita B. Garman presided over the event. Prior to the bar admission ceremony, all newly admitted attorneys passed the Illinois State Bar Examination, an ethics examination, and were certified by the Supreme Court Committee on Character and Fitness. Of the state’s five districts, the number of admitted attorneys is as follows: First District: 1,240 Second District: 184 Third District: 55 Fourth District: 51 Fifth…
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to announce the launch of a new website and logo, which reflect its mission of advancing the principles of attorney professionalism in the lawyers and judges of Illinois. The Commission’s new website provides a streamlined and user-friendly platform for legal professionals to access and interact with the Commission’s educational content, including its free online professional responsibility CLEs, its lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring program, its judicial and law school programming, and its legal profession-focused blog, including the popular Reimagining Law video series. “The Court is dedicated to using education to promote civility and professionalism…
Since March, many attorneys have swapped commutes to the office with strolls to home workstations, practicing virtually in jurisdictions where the lawyer is licensed, even if they’re physically located elsewhere. In response to this new normal, the American Bar Association (ABA) issued Opinion 495 on December 16, addressing remote work and the unauthorized practice of law (UPL).   ABA Opinion 495 states:  Lawyers may remotely practice the law of the jurisdictions in which they are licensed while physically present in a jurisdiction in which they are not admitted if the local jurisdiction has not determined that the conduct is the unlicensed or unauthorized practice of law and if they do not hold themselves out…
In this episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to David Jaffe, Associate Dean for Student Affairs at American University Washington College of Law, and Janet Stearns, Dean of Students and Lecturer at University of Miami School of Law. David and Janet discuss how lawyers and law students can prioritize well-being in 2021, identifying mental health and substance abuse issues virtually, and simple well-being habits lawyers and law students can add to their toolkit. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date on new episodes of Reimagining Law! Timestamps 0:43 – This has been a law school semester like…
The Illinois State Bar Association is addressing Illinois’ rural lawyer shortage with the launch of the new Rural Practice Fellowship Program. The program is designed to connect rural and small-town law firms with law students and newer attorneys interested in practicing outside of urban areas.   The disappearance of rural lawyers in Illinois has been well–documented. According to the ISBA, more than half of Illinois counties have fewer than 0.7 lawyers in private practice per 1,000 residents. Moreover, increased job opportunities and high student loan debt has led many young lawyers to practices in higher-paying urban areas, forcing rural residents to travel long distances to seek legal help.    Data, including the November 2019 class of admitted Illinois attorneys, show these “legal deserts” are worsening: 76 Illinois counties have five…
Our Lawyer Spotlight series highlights Illinois lawyers who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives. These attorneys are teaching us how to adapt and thrive in the changing legal environment. Sari Montgomery is a partner at Robinson, Stewart, Montgomery & Doppke LLC,  where she focuses on legal ethics and professional responsibility matters. Sari formerly worked for the ARDC, but now represent lawyers in ARDC matters, judges in JIB matters, and bar applicants in Character and Fitness proceedings. She also consults with and provides opinion letters to lawyers, firms, government agencies, and law-related businesses on legal ethics matters…
According to my social media feed, lawyers have had two types of responses to the work from home edicts of the past year. There are those who love remote work and say they’ll never go back to an office and then there are the parents of school-aged children.   While the legal profession has spent years spinning initiatives—and its wheels—to address the lack of gender diversity in law, many fear that women will suffer further setbacks as a result of the pandemic. On the other hand, some say that changes wrought by the pandemic will level the playing field, spurring…
For some, a diverse and inclusive workplace wasn’t something they spent much time thinking about until this year. However, 2020 has shined a light on longstanding inequities across our nation and caused law firms and in-house legal departments to take a closer look at diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the legal profession. To explore the impact of corporate efforts to promote inclusion in the legal profession, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) and Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA) recently surveyed nearly 300 attorneys, 70% of whom identify as Asian, Black or African American, and Hispanic or Latinx, on their organizations’…
On December 9, the Illinois Supreme Court announced the approval of new Rule 14, which will facilitate the expansion of text messaging in Illinois courts by authorizing any Illinois court or county clerk to implement a text message notification program.   The new Rule, which was effective immediately, provides the court implementing the program the discretion to determine the content and scope of the text message notification program, which may include reminders about court dates, probation-related events, court-required appointments, new court filings, and general court announcements.   The programs must be approved by the chief circuit judge before implementation. Mobile telephone information collected will be confidential and participants can opt-out at any time.   Reducing Failure to Appear Rates  New…
Cries for lawyers to “embrace technology” have been echoing in the legal profession since before the Model Rules were amended to require tech competency (adopted by 38 states as of this post). Now, lawyers and law firms are utilizing various types of technology like never before to embrace quantifiable benefits for themselves and their clients.   The numbers are quite astonishing (and promising), according to Clio’s 2020 Legal Trends Report. For example, 85% of law firms use software to manage their practice, 83% of firms meet with clients virtually, 73% enable clients to pay invoices electronically, and 62% allow clients…
As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the livelihoods of many, residents in Cook County may find some relief with the recent launch of Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt (CCLAHD). The county-wide initiative focuses on helping residents resolve eviction, foreclosure, debt, and tax deed issues. Affordable housing has been an issue across the country for some time but the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated challenges, particularly among the city’s most vulnerable residents. In a recent press release, Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans highlighted the need for such a program, saying, “It…
In this episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to Valarie K. Howard, Senior Manager of Talent Evaluations and On Boarding at Jenner & Block, and Morgan L. Smith, Professional Development Director at Dykema. Valarie and Morgan talk about navigating the new professional development environment in the legal profession, the opportunities that COVID-19 has created, and the importance of mentorship during a pandemic. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date on new episodes of Reimagining Law! Timestamps 0:49 – As you reflect on 2020, how has professional development in the legal profession been impacted? 4:30 – How have conversations and actions…
Our Lawyer Spotlight series highlights Illinois lawyers who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives. These attorneys are teaching us how to adapt and thrive in the changing legal environment. J. Steven Beckett is an attorney in Urbana, Illinois and serves as of counsel to his former law firm, now known as Beckett Law Office PC. He has been practicing law since 1973 in Champaign County and has appeared in state and federal trial and appellate courts in both criminal and civil cases, including twice before the U.S. Supreme Court. How is your firm adapting to…
Is it just me or could you use a refresher on well-being essentials for lawyers too? The colder and darker winter days in the Midwest are never easy. On top of that, this year we’re faced with a surge in COVID-19 cases, an unknown pandemic end date, political and social unrest, family and holiday obligations, and don’t forget high-stress jobs in the legal profession.  So, how can we realistically improve or at least maintain our well-being? I have written before about making sure your well-being toolkit is ready. While exercise and eating well are important right now and often stressed,…