Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has issued updated guidelines addressing the services of notary publics and the remote witnessing of document signings. The guidelines are in response to social distancing recommendations linked to the coronavirus outbreak. Executive Order 2020-14, which was issued on March 26, states that during the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation related to the outbreak of COVID-19, the following should be observed: The requirement that a person must “appear before” a notary public is satisfied if the notary public performs a remote notarization via two-way audio-video communication technology, provided that the notary public is physically located within Illinois while…
In these unfamiliar times, it’s more important than ever that all Americans have access to legal help. Many organizations are answering the call and stepping up to help those impacted by COVID-19. We’ve compiled a running list of ways Illinois lawyers can get involved. We will keep this list updated as new information becomes available. If you have an opportunity to add, please reach out to us at mail@2civility.org. ABA – Free Legal Answers Attorneys can provide pro bono help for income-eligible users through the ABA’s virtual legal clinic. Attorney volunteers, who must be authorized to provide pro…
As the situation surrounding COVID-19 evolves, and thereafter as we start to settle on the new normal of the legal profession, hosting a full or partial practice out of a virtual law office is an apparent reality. In the past, operating a virtual law office (also known as a VLO) meant less overhead, more flexibility, and new marketability to target audiences and geographical regions (e.g., see the Disappearing Rural Lawyer). Nowadays, frankly, it may be less about convenience and more about necessity. With modern technology, lawyers can draft, share, review, and file documents as well as communicate with clients…
Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice approved a new Small Claims Complaint form suite and the Motion to Appoint Special Process Server. The development of these new form suites is part of a larger initiative to make court forms easier to understand and more accessible for all Illinoisans. The forms are available for comment until May 1, 2020. Comments may be submitted through the court’s website or by emailing Kathleen Callahan at kcallahan@illinoiscourts.gov. After the public comment period ends, the Commission on Access to Justice will review the feedback and suggestions and make any necessary…
An email lands in your inbox. It begins: Following recently updated guidelines from the CDC, we have made the difficult decision to move the course you’re scheduled to present this month to an online webinar session. If you’re scheduled to present a CLE in the next few months, you may have received a similar email. You had committed to a CLE presentation in front of a friendly crowd of attorneys seated in a nice conference room that had decent snacks. Instead, your commitment now is to a small laptop in your “home office,” also known as the room in…
“We want people to trust the judicial branch in good times. We want people to trust the judicial branch even more in bad times.”  Dan Wallis, Trial Court Administrator of Illinois’ 22nd Judicial Circuit, offered this remark to over 300 members of the Illinois judicial branch on March 19, 2020. He, along with Chief Judge Gene Doherty of the 17th Judicial Circuit, were presenting the timely webinar, “Access to Justice and Emergency Preparedness in a Pandemic,” for the Illinois Judicial College. The program was reassuring, not only due to the preparedness of the courts in ensuring the delivery of justice…
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism would like to recognize former Commissioner and Advisor to the Commission Hon. Michael P. McCuskey for his 15 years of service. McCuskey’s term as Advisor to the Commission ended on March 9, 2020, pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court guidelines. “As one of our first Commissioners, Judge McCuskey has been instrumental in establishing the Commission on Professionalism as a leading advocate for civility, integrity, and inclusion in the legal and judicial professions,” said Martin Sinclair, Chair of the Commission. “In his 15 years with the Commission, he has been both a valuable mentor and…
Social distancing is becoming the new normal. Yet, it was only two weeks ago that I attended an excellent program on women in the law where the common theme was supporting women lawyers so they can lead in the workplace. The event was the Summit on Advancing Women in the Law, which was organized by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois. It was a great way to kick off Women’s History Month. I took away many valuable insights but want to focus on the last panel of the afternoon, which…
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to announce that Justice Mary Jane Theis has been appointed as its Supreme Court Liaison. Justice Theis assumes the role from Justice Robert Thomas (Ret.), who retired from the Illinois Supreme Court in February. “The Commission on Professionalism was established to promote the principles of integrity, civility, and inclusion among lawyers and judges in Illinois,” said Justice Theis. “Upholding these ideals is fundamental to effective and efficient dispute resolution in our state. I am delighted to work with the Commission as we advance this important mission.” As Supreme Court Liaison, Justice…
My college-aged daughter tried to persuade my husband and me that it would be best for her to return to campus after spring break and complete her senior year of online classes from her apartment with her young and healthy roommates. She argued that they aren’t in the demographic likely to contract the new coronavirus and even if they did, they would be very likely to recover. My husband and I countered that even if the risk to her is small, she may carry the virus and the consequences for others may be quite large. We recommended that she stay…
As an organization dedicated to promoting professional responsibility in the legal and judicial professions, the health and well-being of our community, staff, and supporters is our highest priority. Due to concerns about COVID-19, and in accordance with guidance from the Illinois Supreme Court, the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, and the Centers for Disease Control, we have decided to cancel The Future Is Now: Legal Services 2020, which was to be held April 23, 2020, in Chicago. The Future Is Now is an opportunity to connect with legal professionals from across the U.S. to reimagine the industry…
Women’s History Month is a time for commemorating and celebrating the vital role women play in American history. Beginning in 1982 and continuing for the next five years, the U.S. Congress passed resolutions designating a week in March as Women’s History Week. After petitioning by the National Women’s History Project, in 1987 Congress declared March as Women’s History Month. In the U.S. judiciary, as in the legal profession, women still trail men when it comes to representation. Women make up 34% of state court judges in the U.S. and 32% of state judges in Illinois. Similarly, women account for roughly…
There’s a lot going on in the world right now. For many, COVID-19 has abruptly disrupted the familiar pattern of personal and professional lives, leaving many organizational leaders at a loss for how to manage the situation.   However, there’s no need to panic. A properly orchestrated response plan can do wonders for diminishing anxiety and demonstrating professionalism and preparedness. Here are some things to keep in mind when responding to a crisis.   Plan, plan, plan When was the last time you reviewed your business continuity plan? A business continuity plan details how an organization will recover interrupted critical business functions after an unexpected occurrence.   While crises can trigger unease among employees, clients, and other stakeholders, businesses with contingency plans can make…
Michelle Mancias is an Assistant Vice President and Counsel at State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. How has your practice evolved over the last few years? Even in an in-house context, the legal landscape is changing to keep up with the increased pace of change of the business environment. External factors are having such an impact on strategies, operations, and even perspectives, so it is critical to understand how the law functions within those changes. How can lawyers adapt to the changing legal profession? Adapting well requires an innate curiosity and drive to continually learn and grow. It requires flexibility,…
The Chicago Bar Foundation (CBF) has kicked off its 14th Annual Investing in Justice Campaign. The campaign rallies the Chicago legal community to help ensure that everyone has access to necessary legal help. Every year, thousands of lawyers and legal professionals from Chicago-area law firms, corporate legal departments, companies, and other law-related organizations donate to Investing in Justice. Contributions help strengthen Chicago’s pro bono and legal aid organizations, supporting attorneys and making the courts more user-friendly and accessible for people in need. “Fewer than half of the 600,000 low-income Cook County people who need legal help this year will…
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to announce the speaker talks for its fifth annual The Future Is Now: Legal Services conference. The conference will be held on Thursday, April 23, from 9:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CT at Venue SIX10 in Chicago. For the first time, the Commission will expand on its popular TED-like talk and townhall format with a keynote session exploring the legal regulatory innovation debate that’s happening across the U.S. “The Future Is Now is an opportunity for lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals to learn crucial tips to improve our practice while debating larger issues that…