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 to share and sign documents electronically.  Whether lawyers continue to run their practice virtually or return to brick and mortar in whole or…
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, I want to discuss three well-being essentials for lawyers that we already do and cost nothing. However, the key…
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 Plan, which outlines principles and initiatives aimed at enhancing access to justice and improving the experience of those who access the courts.   “This website is a necessary step in ensuring SRLs, LEP litigants,…
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.…