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This week, the Illinois Supreme Court announced temporary changes to paragraph (h) Remote Electronic Means Depositions of Rule 206, which applies to methods of taking depositions on oral examination.  The amendments, made in response to COVID-19, were effective as of April 29, 2020. The amended Rule no longer requires deponents to be in the presence of the officer administering the oath and recording the deposition. It also no longer requires that parties attending a deposition with the deponent provide prior written notice of their intention to appear. Additions to Rule 206 are underlined below: (2) Any exhibits or other…
The American Inns of Court celebrated Professionalism Month in April. However, the professionalism challenges its members are facing in 2020 are a bit different than in years past. The American Inns of Court is a nationwide professional association consisting of more than 30,000 members across the legal community, including federal and state judges, lawyers, law professors, and law students. The organization promotes professional excellence through networking, mentoring, and continuing education opportunities centered on ethics and professionalism. The organization includes more than 400 chartered American Inns of Court across the U.S. Membership is divided into “pupillage teams,” with each team…
In this episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis about the Court’s response to COVID-19, the impact of remote access, and how the Court plans to use technology moving forward. Subscribe to our channel to be notified when a new episode of Reimagining Law is posted! Justice Mary Jane Theis Justice Mary Jane Theis has served on the Illinois Supreme Court since 2010. Prior to serving on the Court, Justice Theis served as an Appellate Judge in Illinois’ First District for 17 years. Justice Theis is also the Illinois Supreme Court liaison to…
In this episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to Valerie McWilliams, Staff Attorney at Land of Lincoln Legal Aid, about the impact of COVID-19 on legal aid organizations and how these groups plan to adapt as we adjust to the new normal. Subscribe to our channel to be notified when a new episode of Reimagining Law is posted! Valerie McWilliams Valerie McWilliams is a Staff Attorney at Land of Lincoln Legal Aid where she has worked since 1984. Valerie has worked in a variety of practice areas and was a Managing Attorney of the Eastern Regional Office in Champaign…
The Illinois Supreme Court announced significant updates this week in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time in its history, the Court will hold oral arguments virtually, through the Zoom videoconference platform. In addition, the Court will allow Illinois lawyers with a June 30, 2020, MCLE compliance deadline a three-month extension at no cost. Virtual Oral Arguments The Court will hold oral arguments virtually when it hears cases in May. This will allow the Court to continue to practice social distancing while conducting court proceedings. In the announcement, Chief Justice Anne M. Burke said, “These are extraordinary…
When writing a blog, I’ll often start with an anecdote. It’s usually something personal, with a connection to the topic that is best described as tenuous. But I’m not going to do that. Right now, each of us are living through a million of our own anecdotes; unique, unprecedented, and absolutely ours. This blog is a celebration of human ingenuity; how we learn and innovate and what we can take forward from these times and apply to learning design. I want to talk about how learning is part of being human and how we’re naturally drawn to new experiences and…
We are re-examining litigation practices through the prism of a global pandemic. Courts are issuing orders designed to keep the public and court personnel safe while still delivering essential court services. Lawyers are representing clients and trying to make a living despite courts that are only hearing emergency or essential business. But where are we drawing the line on what constitutes emergency or essential business? Judges Make the Tough Call Right now, it’s up to judges to make the hard calls. Judges must balance the physical health of the public, courthouse staff, litigants, and lawyers with their mandate to deliver…
  In this episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to Michael Bergmann, Executive Director of the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI), about its new COVID-19 Legal Answers Task Force and how Illinois attorneys are answering the call for pro bono during this challenging time. Subscribe to our channel to be notified when a new episode of Reimagining Law is posted! Michael G. Bergmann Michael Bergmann has served as the Executive Director of PILI since 2010. During his time at PILI, Michael has grown the Law Student Internship Program, overseen the development of innovative pro bono committees at the judicial circuit…
 In this episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to Cynthia Fountaine, professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law, about COVID-19’s impact on legal education, how students are adapting, and how she sees the pandemic impacting law schools long term. Subscribe to our channel to be notified when a new episode of Reimagining Law is posted! Cynthia L. Fountaine Cynthia Fountaine is a professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law and a Commission on Professionalism commissioner. Cynthia served as the School of Law’s first woman dean from July 2010 – September 2017. Cynthia now focuses her teaching on…
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to announce the launch of a new video series. Reimagining Law will explore how legal and judicial professionals are adapting the delivery of services to meet the unique needs of today’s consumers. The first episodes will focus on the ways that attorneys and judges are continuing to deliver justice amid the coronavirus pandemic. The weekly series, which will be available on the Commission’s website and YouTube channel, will feature interviews with professionals who are tackling challenges across the legal and judicial spectrum. In some cases, these guests have adapted established…
 In this episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to Dr. Diana Uchiyama, Executive Director of the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program (LAP), about COVID-19’s impact on our well-being and how lawyers and judges can adapt to this “new normal.” Dr. Uchiyama also shares how legal professionals can reach out for help. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified when a new episode of Reimagining Law is posted! Dr. Diana Uchiyama Dr. Diana Uchiyama is the Executive Director of the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program. Diana joined LAP in 2018 and was previously the Administrator of Psychological Services for DuPage…
Traditionally our Lawyer Spotlight series has highlighted Illinois lawyers who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives. However, in light of COVID-19, legal professionals are facing new challenges that are impacting their work and home lives in a way that we’ve never experienced. In a special Lawyer Spotlight series, we will explore how attorneys are adapting professionally and personally to the coronavirus pandemic. We begin with Maureen Kieffer, who is the Assistant Dean of Career Services at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Maureen also teaches in Loyola’s Children’s Law and Policy Masters of Jurisprudence program and…
In the first episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to Katie M. Blakeman, Clerk of the Circuit Court for Champaign County, about how her office and circuit clerks across Illinois are continuing to deliver services to the public amid COVID-19. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified when a new episode of Reimagining Law is posted! Katie M. Blakeman Katie M. Blakeman is the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Champaign County. Elected in 2012, Katie has focused her efforts on improving technology and accessibility in the courts, both locally and statewide. Her work has led to several…
Last week, the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) announced that it would offer an alternative date for the July bar exam for jurisdictions that cannot or choose to not move forward with the exam this summer due to COVID-19. The NCBE will decide by May 5 whether there is enough demand from jurisdictions to administer the July bar. In the meantime, it has committed to making materials available for two fall 2020 administrations: September 9-10 and September 30-October 1. The legal system is dependent on the more than 24,000 law school graduates who begin careers requiring bar admission each…
My late father practiced law in Illinois for 53 years as a self-described “small town [Champaign] lawyer.” While Champaign-Urbana may be a micro-urban area and he litigated many complex cases for high-profile clients, he prided himself most for his work on behalf of individuals and small business clients. So, when he found himself at a bar association golf outing in a foursome with three other trial attorneys, he was ready to demonstrate his modesty with a joke. The other lawyers talked up their complex, high-value cases and judgments for the first few holes as my dad kept quiet. They eventually…
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Pretrial Practices has released a final report on pretrial reform in the Illinois criminal justice system. The report, which was published on April 2, includes recommendations for modifying state law, Supreme Court rules and policies, and circuit court systems, practices, and procedures, to create a more fair and effective system. The recommendations aim to “balance the defendant’s presumption of innocence and due process while protecting the public, assuring court appearance, and maintaining the integrity of the court.” According to Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne M. Burke, the Court will now take the report under…