Last Friday, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87. Ginsburg, affectionately known as RBG, was a trailblazing jurist who spent her career fighting for equal justice for women and other marginalized communities. She occupied the roles of U.S. Supreme Court justice, gender equality pioneer, and pop culture icon with decorum and humility, striving to use her position of power to benefit those less fortunate. She once said: “I tell law students … if you are going to be a lawyer and just practice your profession, you have a skill — very much like a plumber. But if you…
When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March, I thought we would be working from home for a couple of weeks to help flatten the curve. As Executive Director of the Commission on Professionalism, I didn’t make any long-term plans for my staff to work remotely for months on end. Nor did I consider how I would maintain our corporate culture while my team was working across the state and beyond. Then, reality sank in: we are in this for the long haul. Employees across industries are learning new skills and applying innovative tools to help them adjust to working…
In this episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to Ken Koehn, Chief Financial Officer at Gould & Ratner LLP and President of the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA). Ken discusses how law firms can maintain their corporate culture during COVID-19, why strong leadership is more important than ever, and how firms can nurture success in their attorneys. Timestamps  1:04 – How has the virtual work environment impacted the team culture at Gould & Ratner and law firms across the nation? 2:03 – Now that most employees are virtual, how can firms continue to connect with their…
Roughly six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, a partner at a BigLaw firm in Chicago shared an exciting revelation with me. “While I’ve become more physically distanced from my coworkers, I’ve actually become more personally connected to them,” he said. “We’ve stepped into each other’s homes and lives much more while working remotely.”  His discovery caused me to recall a discussion with a colleague about our mentoring program for new lawyers in Illinois. The year-long program pairs lawyers early in their careers with more experienced attorneys for a mentoring experience centered on skill-building and instilling the values of professionalism in the next generation of attorneys. Given social distancing guidelines, in the early weeks of the pandemic, we thought, “How are we going to keep our mentoring pairs active?” To which we quickly…
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. Susan L. Zielke is a Managing Attorney in the Eastern Regional Office of Land of Lincoln Legal Aid. In her practice, Susan focuses on legal aid work, primarily criminal records and public benefits, in addition to housing/homeownership, domestic violence/family, and consumer debt. How is Land of Lincoln Legal Aid adapting to the changing work environment? Because we are a program spread over 65 counties with five regional…
Small law firms continue to struggle with administrative tasks and new business, but few are taking meaningful action to address these challenges, according to the Thomson Reuters 2020 State of U.S. Small Law Firms survey. This inaction creates opportunities for small firms willing to take the lead in innovating their service delivery models. In its fourth report on the state of the nation’s small law firms, Thomson Reuters surveyed more than 400 solo and small firm lawyers in April and May 2020. The survey found that in spite of societal upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the operations of many…
Evictions were prevalent before COVID-19, but the situation has reached a crisis level. The national unemployment rate hit an all-time high of 14.7% in April 2020 and was still at 8.4% in August. The high unemployment rate has resulted in fewer people being able to pay their rent or mortgages. In the first three months of 2020, landlords collected 80% of total rent due from tenants. In the first half of July, they collected just 37%. To help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 due to homelessness, laws have been created and amended to address the eviction crisis in…
Illinois attorneys A-M who received the MCLE reporting extension for the 2018-2020 cycle: September 30 is your deadline to complete your MCLE credits and submit your online report. Newly-admitted attorneys have separate requirements. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Supreme Court, in consultation with the MCLE Board, provided attorneys in the current reporting group with a no-cost, three-month extension to complete the 30-hour MCLE requirement. This pushed the completion deadline from June 30 to September 30, 2020. Attorneys who secured this extension must complete both their MCLE credits and report “complied” to the board online by September…
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. Ivy Lee is an attorney at Hlustik, Huizenga, Williams & Vander Woude Ltd. (HHWV) in Chicago, where she serves as outside general counsel to a variety of small and mid-size businesses. As a generalist, Ivy is experienced in various fields of law, including negotiating commercial transactions, drafting contracts, participating in merger & acquisition transactions and due diligence, advising on intellectual property strategies, reviewing insurance policies, responding to…
The supreme courts of Arizona and Utah have approved far-reaching modifications to court rules aimed at addressing the access to justice gap. On August 27, the Arizona Supreme Court announced that it will eliminate the rule prohibiting fee sharing and prohibiting nonlawyers from having economic interests in law firms. The announcement follows that of the Utah Supreme Court, which voted on August 13 to establish a regulatory sandbox that will allow lawyers and non-traditional legal providers and services to explore creative ways to practice law and promote their services, including entities with nonlawyer investment or ownership. Over the past couple
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. Carl R. Draper is a partner at FeldmanWasser in Springfield, Ill., where he practices employment and administrative law, focusing specifically on individuals who are having legal issues with state agencies. He has also practiced civil rights law, representing individuals on civil rights claims, matters involving state government regulation, and many types of administrative hearings. How is FeldmanWasser adapting to the changing work environment? Working through this period…
Remote learning may not be the panacea we all hoped for, but we can learn from the new normal if we embrace our role in the experience. “Can you help me with this?” This question used to be asked of parents when inexplicable homework problems were served up alongside impenetrable instructions. “Wait, you don’t carry the 1 now? You have to add it to the second column on the right? When did basic math change?” Parents had a few options for responding: Be pleasantly surprised that you know how to solve the problem Ask some delaying questions while trying to…
 In this episode of Reimagining Law, we talk to Blake D. Morant, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at the University of California Irvine School of Law and Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School. Blake discusses how to reverse the trend toward incivility, why he establishes rules of engagement in his classroom, and cancel culture’s impact on the legal profession. Subscribe to our channel to stay up to date on new episodes of Reimagining Law! Timestamps 0:49 – You’ve been an advocate for civility for some time. Incivility in our society and specifically in our…
Civility has a tough row to hoe these days. In our national discourse, on our social media platforms, and even in the legal profession, civility can be fleeting. Instead, pejorative criticism unfettered by courtesy or respect has become the norm. Add to that heightened emotions and rhetoric around social justice issues and our national conversations have at times morphed into “cancel culture,” wielded as the weapon of choice against those espousing oppositional viewpoints. But shouldn’t we embrace civility even more tightly during these extraordinary times? Or has civil discourse been mortally wounded, slinking its way to the corner to die?…
Over the next couple of months, hundreds of law students across Illinois will commit to upholding the highest ideals of the legal profession through annual professionalism orientations. Professionalism orientations are designed to introduce first-year law students to the core concepts of attorney professionalism. The programs are held in conjunction with broader law school orientation activities. For the 14th year, the Commission on Professionalism is assisting with the professionalism orientation at each of Illinois’s nine law schools. At many Illinois law schools, the typical in-person orientation has gone virtual, with video remarks from Illinois Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr.…
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to report that 143 first-year Illinois law students participated in Jumpstart 2020, a preparatory program designed to provide historically underrepresented students with tools to succeed in law school. Student participation in 2020 more than doubled that of previous years. In 2019, 63 students participated in Jumpstart. The usual three-day, in-person program in Chicago was held virtually from August 11-14. Students from the University of Illinois College of Law, DePaul University College of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law, UIC John Marshall Law School, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Northwestern Pritzker School…