Like many, I came to Chicago for the 2023 ABA TechShow knowing that ChatGPT was going to be a buzzword in the hallways, sessions, and panels. That was no surprise as it has been trending (including in legal tech circles) since its public launch in November 2022.

My goal as a TechShow attendee was two-fold: (1) Gain a better understanding of how ChatGPT works, and (2) attempt to put aside the hype to objectively evaluate its potential impact on how lawyers work.

Here is what I discovered and why I am excited about what ChatGPT can do for legal services
Continue Reading Why ChatGPT Matters for the Future of Legal Services

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis recently announced amendments to Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5, titled “Fees,” and 1.15, titled “General Duties Regarding Safekeeping Property.”
The amendments to the rule officially recognize the common types of fee agreements, with the notable additions of:

  • The engagement (or classic) retainer
  • The security retainer
  • The special purpose (or advance payment) retainer
  • The amendments were made on March 1, 2023, and become effective July 1, 2023.
    The amendments explicitly note that nonrefundable fees and nonrefundable retainers are prohibited, and “any agreement that purports to restrict a client’s right to terminate the
    Continue Reading Illinois Supreme Court Announces Rule Changes for Illinois Attorney Fees

    The Commission on Professionalism recently delivered our Courthouse Professionalism Training for the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Sixth Municipal District in Markham Courthouse.

    The exercise allows courthouse personnel to experience their courthouse from the perspective of court users, encouraging them to discuss ways of enhancing professionalism in their protocols and procedures.

    The session involves interactive skits, discussion of access to justice resources and listening skills, and my favorite part: breakout sessions. During the breakout sessions, small groups of attendees are asked three questions:

  • What about your work in the courthouse do you find the most rewarding?
  • What prevents you from

  • Continue Reading Creating Psychological Safety to Improve Feedback at Your Law Firm  

    At a time when the legal profession is struggling to become more inclusive and innovative, four of Illinois’ nine law schools are led by Black women. Their dynamic paths and approaches to leadership demonstrate how legal organizations can better reflect and represent the communities they seek to serve and how leaders can shepherd and shape institutions through periods of unprecedented change.
    The power of pipelines
    While NALP’s 2022 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms showed that Black women comprise just 0.94% of all partners, they are receiving substantially greater leadership opportunities in law schools. According to Rosenblatt’s Deans Database
    Continue Reading Meet the Black Women Leading Illinois Law Schools

    Professionalism issues were at the forefront of the American Bar Association’s 2023 (ABA) Midyear Meeting, which took place earlier this month in New Orleans.

    More than 30 resolutions were considered, covering a myriad of topics from condemning antisemitism to guidelines regarding the use of artificial intelligence in the legal profession.

    Notably, many of the resolutions addressed professionalism in the legal profession.
    How the ABA Midyear Meeting works
    As the largest voluntary association for lawyers in the world, the ABA’s mission is “to serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the
    Continue Reading 4 Professionalism Takeaways from the ABA Midyear Meeting

    The courthouse is not just a building, it is a critical component of the legal system and a vital public service. It serves as a central hub for the administration of justice in communities and plays a vital role in safeguarding the rights of individuals.
    Beyond its bricks and mortar, a courthouse is a place where people can receive legal assistance, resolve disputes, and access justice. However, access to these services can be impeded if they are not administered civilly, effectively, and professionally.
    Our sister organization, the Access to Justice Division of the Illinois Courts, has joined us since 2019
    Continue Reading Advancing Professionalism and Access to Justice in Illinois’ Courts

    Despite increased representation of women, people of color, and those who identify as LGBTQ among associates, progress for Black and Latina partners remains “excruciatingly slow,” according to the NALP 2022 Report on Diversity in Law Firms.
    Black and Latina women each accounted for less than 1% of all partners in 2022, increasing by less than 0.1 percentage point from 2021.
    Conversely, women in general now make up nearly half of all associates and summer associates.
    Over the 30 years that NALP has collected data, the representation of people of color at the partner level has increased by less than
    Continue Reading Little Progress for Black and Latina Lawyers at the Partner Level, According to NALP

    Our Lawyer Spotlight series highlights Illinois lawyers who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives.
    Michele M. Jochner, partner at Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP in the Chicagoland area, represents family law clients in complex appellate matters.
    Previously, Michele served as a judicial law clerk to two Chief Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court: the late Justice Mary Ann G. McMorrow and the late Justice Charles E. Freeman.
    How has your practice evolved during the last few years?
    After nearly 16 years of service at the Illinois Supreme Court, I joined the internationally-recognized law firm of
    Continue Reading Lawyer Spotlight: Michele M. Jochner

    The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice (ATJ Commission) recently announced that the Motion to Seal Court File in an Eviction Case form suite is available for comment for 45 days, through March 3, 2023.
    This new form set is meant to help self-represented litigants request to seal their eviction court files.
    The forms and a link to submit comments can be found on the Illinois Supreme Court website.
    After the public comment period ends, the ATJ Commission will review any feedback or suggestions received and make any necessary revisions.
    What eviction forms are available for comment?
    Continue Reading ATJ Commission Approves a New Suite of Eviction Forms for Public Comment

    Last week, Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism Executive Director Erika Harold returned to her alma mater, Harvard Law School, as part of the teaching faculty of the Winter Trial Advocacy Workshop. This is the sixth year that Harold has taught as part of the Trial Advocacy Workshop.
    The Trial Advocacy Workshop is an intensive course in trial analysis, skills, and techniques taught over three weeks. Harold taught during the second week, which focused on bench trials.
    “We are delighted that Erika joined the teaching faculty of our Trial Advocacy Workshop again this year,” said Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., Director
    Continue Reading Executive Director Erika Harold Part of Teaching Faculty for Harvard Law School’s Winter Trial Advocacy Workshop

    U.S. News & World Report said it will amend the methodology used in its ranking of best U.S. law schools after several law schools cited concerns with its criteria.  
    More than 20 law schools including Northwestern, Harvard, and Yale, have said that they will stop providing data to U.S. News for the annual rankings because the rankings lack diversity metrics, penalize schools whose graduates pursue advanced degrees or careers in public interest, and encourage schools to favor wealthy students by offering financial aid based on test scores rather than financial need.  
    “We make this decision – despite our
    Continue Reading U.S. News & World Report Amends Law School Rankings Amid Boycott

    New year, new you? Who is ready?
    Was anyone else crawling to the end of the invisible finish line of 2022? Maybe it was just me, but I doubt it. We are all part of the legal profession; no one gets a prize at the end of the year for working the fewest number of hours.
    I am not here to write about the best self-care routine for 2023 or how to work more efficiently. While I do believe in all of that, if I had the answer, I would not be wiping off the dirt from all of the
    Continue Reading 4 Development Goals for Lawyers This Year

    January is National Mentoring Month. At the Commission on Professionalism, we would like to congratulate the attorneys and legal organizations that have already made mentoring a priority by participating in our lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring program or programs elsewhere.
    2022 was an exciting year for mentoring at the Commission. As of December 2022, 111 organizations across Illinois are implementing the Commission’s mentoring program, including 50 law firms, 22 bar associations, 15 professional organizations, 11 government offices, 9 law schools, two court districts, and one corporation. And participants have come from 13 states and 84 cities.
    If you are not already part of
    Continue Reading 3 Priorities for Lawyer Mentoring in 2023

    Welcome to a new year! And if you are an attorney in New York, you are welcoming a new category of CLE.
    Beginning on July 1, 2023, licensed attorneys in New York will be required to complete one CLE credit hour of cybersecurity, privacy, and data protection training as part of their biennial learning requirement.
    While 40 states (as of publication) have adopted the duty of technology competency (including Illinois, see Rule 1.1, Comment 8), and some states even require CLE devoted to technology training (see e.g., Florida, North Carolina), New York is the first state to
    Continue Reading Shields Up! What Lawyers Need to Know to Avoid Phishing Attacks

    Our Commissioners and staff at our September 2022 meeting
    2022 was a year of profound change for both the Commission on Professionalism and me.
    In April 2022, I assumed the role of Executive Director from Jayne Reardon, who was retiring after leading the Commission with vision and passion since 2009.
    I transitioned from a fulfilling litigation practice at Meyer Capel in Champaign and moved to Chicago, invigorated and grateful for this new opportunity to serve the legal community and its stakeholders.
    After nine months as Executive Director, I am more energized than ever by the work of the Commission and
    Continue Reading Letters from Erika: 4 Reasons I Was Proud of the Commission in 2022

    Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis administers the Oath of Unity to Illinois bar associations
    If diversity and unity in Illinois’ legal profession could be reflected in a tableau, the image of bar association presidents from different backgrounds collectively pledging to promote diversity and collaboration in the legal profession would encompass those ideals.
    That was the scene at the Diversity Scholarship Foundation, NFP’s Unity Gala & 20th Annual Swearing-In Ceremony of Bar Presidents, which was held in December in Chicago.
    The annual gala recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the legal community and the community at large, including
    Continue Reading Illinois Bar Associations Pledge to Promote Diversity and Unity In the Legal Profession