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,…
As of January 1, 2021, litigants will be allowed to cite unpublished Illinois Appellate Court opinions for persuasive purposes thanks to an amendment to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 23. The Supreme Court, which announced the amendment last week, cited the availability of text-searchable electronic legal research databases as an impetus for the change.   Under the earlier version of Rule 23, litigants could cite rulings from other jurisdictions as persuasive authority but couldn’t cite unpublished Illinois Appellate Court rulings. This led to confusion, as Illinois trial court rulings could be cited, but an unpublished appellate order affirming that same ruling could not, the press release said.    However, electronic…
In this episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to Danielle Hirsch and Zach Zarnow, consultants at the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and hosts of NCSC’s popular Tiny Chats. The duo discusses the role and priorities of NCSC, challenges and opportunities for the legal profession amid the pandemic, and how courts can adapt to be more responsive to public needs.    Subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date on new episodes of Reimagining Law!      Timestamps     0:57 – Give us a 1000-foot view, what does NCSC do and how have its priorities realigned given COVID-19?  2:37 – What specific challenges are state courts facing today?   4:34 – Where do you see opportunities for collaboration in the…
The English poet Walter Landor once said, “delay of justice is injustice.” While these words were spoken over 100 years ago, the sentiment still rings true. The quest for the efficient delivery of justice was a driving force behind the National Center for State Court’s Effective Criminal Case Management project (ECCM). Before COVID-19 forced the reduction of court operations, state courts nationwide resolved 40 criminal felony cases and 100 criminal misdemeanor cases every minute. Despite this seemingly rapid pace, most courts weren’t meeting the national time standards due to too many continuances and scheduled hearings. To address these challenges, the…
Things guaranteed to start an argument: Chicago style vs. New York-style pizza, Star Trek vs. Star Wars, Pepsi vs. Coke. In the world of learning design, these debates are joined by one more: course evaluation surveys.   If the thought of course evaluation surveys – those questionnaires you fill out at the end of a CLE, often to receive CLE credit — causes anger, that’s understandable. But while these surveys aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, they do concern all of us indirectly.   Course evaluation surveys often focus on how you enjoyed the presentation, whether you learned anything, and if you would recommend the presentation to others. Now think back to law school. Imagine if your professors’ primary metric of success was whether you enjoyed the class (I’m sure some of you feel that this definitely wasn’t their primary metric) or they asked whether…
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. Deane B. Brown is a shareholder at Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. in Chicago. Her primary practice area is employment law, including severance negotiations, employment discrimination claims, and retaliatory discharge cases.  How is your firm adapting to the changing work environment? My firm is adapting very well. We are all working remotely as our top priority is keeping everyone safe and healthy. Lawyers (wearing masks)…
Judge Alicia N. Washington Judge Debra B. Walker Women in the law have come a long way since the Supreme Court of Illinois denied Myra Bradwell’s petition for a license to practice law in 1869. However, while Illinois passed a law in 1872 providing that “No person shall be precluded or debarred from any occupation, profession or employment (except military) on account of sex,” significant challenges to equal representation still exist. The number of women in the legal profession has steadily increased over time. Currently, and for the last several years, women have accounted for more than 50% of American law students.…
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the success of the remote October bar exam, the Illinois Supreme Court announced this week that the February 2021 Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) in Illinois will be administered online. The filing deadline for the exam is Tuesday, December 15. “The Illinois Supreme Court and the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar understands that an in-person exam would remain at risk of cancellation based on changing pandemic conditions. That risk is untenable for all stakeholders,” the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar (IBAB) said in a statement. In October, Illinois…
This week, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice (ATJ Commission) announced the launch of its website, www.atjil.org. This website contains legal information, standardized court forms, and resources for court staff who interact with SRLs and Limited English Proficient (LEP) litigants regularly.   The number of SRLs in Illinois has been rising rapidly. In 2019, SRLs filed about 90,000 civil cases in Illinois, according to the 2019 Illinois Courts Annual Report. At the appellate court level, 41% of civil appeals filed statewide last year were filed by SRLs.   The website is part of the ATJ Commission’s 2020-2023 Strategic…
In this episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to John K. Kim, Counsel at State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. in Bloomington, Ill. John discusses the importance of diversity in the legal profession, which DEI initiatives are working and which aren’t, and how a virtual work environment may impact diversity at law firms and legal organizations. Subscribe to our channel to stay up to date on new episodes of Reimagining Law! Timestamps 0:43 – What would you say to people who don’t think diversity in the legal profession matters? 3:08 – What has your experience been working in downstate Illinois, outside of the…
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission on Professionalism is pleased to announce that its virtual mentoring meeting expectation will be extended through June 30, 2021. In accordance with COVID-19-related guidance from the Illinois Supreme Court, the Commission issued a virtual meeting exception in March, which enabled mentors and mentees participating in its lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring program to complete their required minimum of eight meetings over the one-year term through video conference. Previously, participants were required to hold meetings in-person to receive professional responsibility CLE credit. “The Illinois Supreme Court is pleased to extend this virtual mentoring option, which…
Before COVID-19 rocked our workplaces, law firms were making strides in reducing office space. When considering what millennials want from their employers, skyscrapers with marbled interiors and stately furnishings may not have the same allure as they once did. In contrast, younger lawyers seek working environments dedicated to collaboration and efficiency. Law firms have noticed this shift in priorities. According to a 2019 survey by Cushman & Wakefield, many law firms are leasing smaller offices that prioritize collaborative spaces. Others have begun using hoteling systems, where employees schedule the use of a deck or a workspace preemptively, over assigned seating.…
This week, the Illinois Supreme Court issued two orders that support the expansion of remote court operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.   The Order on Remote Jury Selection in Civil Matters permits circuits to conduct jury selection in civil cases via video conference. This expands upon rules that were amended in May to support the use of remote hearings.   The order addresses jury selection in civil cases, which have been mostly on hold during the pandemic. It doesn’t address any other part of the jury trial or whether this method of questioning potential jurors is permissible in criminal jury trials.   “The order allows for a flexible approach to implementing remote jury selection, affording individual circuits discretion to determine if it is an appropriate tool based…
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. Jeffrey R. Hall is a founding member at Hall, Rustom & Fritz LLC in Peoria, Ill. His primary practice areas include criminal law, DUI/traffic, driver’s license reinstatements, FOID reinstatements, and criminal record expungements. How is your firm adapting to the changing work environment? At Hall, Rustom & Fritz LLC, we have made substantial changes to how we represent and interact with clients. Prior to the COVID shutdowns…
The new normal is that there is no normal. That may seem to be the lesson from 2020. All is thrown into the air and determining a trend for how things might land is an impossibility. The same holds for the state of the legal industry being on tilt. Or is it?  From solo and small firms to BigLaw, the COVID-19 pandemic played no favorites in impacting organizations and their clients. The storm blew hard, and the waves were fierce as most just tried to hold on. Nevertheless, as troubled waters certainly haven’t abated, the legal industry has charted a new course: a new trend led by accelerated tech adoption in delivering legal services.   Lost…
In this episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne M. Burke. Chief Justice Burke discusses how the judiciary has adapted to the pandemic, the Court’s increased collaboration with communities across the state, and how the Court is promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the judicial branch. Subscribe to our channel to stay up to date on new episodes of Reimagining Law! Timestamps 0:37 – What major changes have you made to the judiciary as a result of the pandemic? 2:08 – Which changes may become a permanent part of the way we serve the public moving forward? 3:28…